The Winnipeg Art Gallery has teamed up with an urban Inuit association to bolster the well-being of the local Inuit community.
Tunngasugit, located at 818 Sargent Ave., offers front-line services to help Inuit community members transition to city life through services available in English and Inuktitut.
With the recent opening of Qaumajuq, the WAG’s Inuit art centre, it’s an ideal time to forge a formal partnership with Tunngasugit since they both aim to support the Inuit community — both in the North and in Winnipeg.
Nikki Komaksiutiksak, executive director of Tunngasugit, said this partnership stems from a year-long conversation.
“It was evident that having a space for local Inuit would have the Inuit community feel more at ease,” she said.
“Historically, Indigenous people have expressed that they did not feel comfortable visiting the WAG as it was seen as a place for upper-class folks, so breaking those barriers by having local Inuit have space within Qaumajuq is a great way to change those stereotypes.”
For Tunngasugit, the goal is to work together to deliver programming for Inuit and other Canadians through art, she added. In turn, Komaksiutiksak notes that the Inuit community can also teach its own stories to the public.
“It is important to have Inuit tell our own stories rather than stories coming from non-Inuit,” she said.
“This collaboration will strengthen Inuit voice. Inuit have often been misrepresented and have often been excluded from conversations pertaining specifically to Inuit.”
Through this partnership, the WAG and Tunngasugit will explore ways to provide gallery tours in Inuktitut while also offering a venue for Inuktitut language classes. In addition, the WAG will provide transportation from Tunngasugit for the Inuit community to visit Quamajuq, which will provide dedicated programming.
Amy Rebecca Harrison, the WAG’s engagement supervisor, said the partnership ensures the gallery is a safe space for Inuit to visit and feel at home.
“The goal of the partnership is to make Qaumajuq as accessible and welcoming as possible for Inuit, enhancing the well-being of the Inuit community and encouraging the exchange of ideas, which benefits everyone,” Harrison said.
“The partnership aims to support the social, mental and emotional well-being of the growing Inuit community here in Winnipeg through joint programs, ongoing collaboration and care.”
This type of collaboration is important because Qaumajuq is home to the largest public collection of Inuit art in the world and the first purpose-built space to house and display this incredible artwork, she added.
“Because of this, Qaumajuq offers a unique space to learn about Inuit art and culture, with Inuit artists and curators leading the conversation,” Harrison said.
“These inclusive collaborations are also an important part of the WAG’s continued commitment to respond to the TRC’s (Truth and Reconciliation Commission) calls to action and advance reconciliation.”
Throughout the process, a key consideration has been to enhance accessibility.
“The gallery has worked to make Qaumajuq and the WAG as accessible as possible. With the opening of Qaumajuq, the WAG announced free admission for Indigenous peoples,” Harrison said.
“The whole main floor, featuring the visible vault displaying thousands of Inuit carvings, is free for all.”
In addition, Canada Life Free Sundays at the WAG take place on the second Sunday of every month, offering free entry for everyone and fun family programming based on exhibitions on display.
Taken from – winnipegfreepress.com
by Jennifer McFee