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Kivalliq (formerly Keewatin) Region

Kangiqtiniq (Rankin Inlet)


Kangiqtiniq (Rankin Inlet)

Kangiqtiniq is the regional seat of Kivalliq. Kangiqtiniq (“deep bay/inlet” in Inuktitut) is the business and transportation hub of the Kivalliq region and is the gateway to Nunavut from Central and Western Canada. This large volume of traffic through the area in the form of the establishment of regional government, mining and exploration forays has undoubtedly affected the outlook and style of local artists. In fact, a strong motivation to turn to art as an income source was the closure of the nickel mine in 1962.

The unyielding quality of the hard, local grey stone and black Kivalliq stone dictates a semi-abstract style, rough yet expressive. Artists dating back to the 1940s also worked in ivory. Sculpture themes focus on animals, hunting and in the case of two of Kivalliq’s best-known artists John Tiktak and John Kavik – the human form.

Tiktak’s (1916-1981) work focused on mother and child pairings as well as the human face. His work has been described as both serene and elegantly stark, almost brutal and has been compared to Henry Moore sculptures.

John Kavik (1897–1993) also created mother and child images, but is considered to be a more instinctive and robust style than Tiktak, creating bold, powerful sculpture.

As demonstrated by Tiktak and Kavik’s work, Kangiqtiniq artists use heavy chunks of stone, leaving the surface rough, with visible chisel marks.


John Tiktak (1916-1981)

John Tiktak (1916-1981)

John Tiktak (1916-1981)

John Kavik (1897-1993)

John Kavik (1897-1993)


John Tiktak (1916-1981)

Arviat (Eskimo Point)


Arviat (Eskimo Point)

Translated as ‘place of the bowhead whale’, Arviat is the southernmost community on the Nunavut mainland and is close to the geographical centre of Canada.

Arviat’s artists began creating their unique style of sculpture in the 1960s. Their distinctive style resulted from the tough grey stone (steatite) used. Familial themes are depicted in a rugged, almost a primal manner, and is considered by some to be the least naturalistic style of Inuit art. While the Arviat style is attributed to the hardness of the stone; the simplistic style is still favoured even when softer stone is available. Inuit art scholar Susan Gustavison explains while Arviat is associated with abstraction, with naturalism as a component, the abstraction is an “aesthetic choice” and is not “totally related to the particular stone available.”

Gustavison also states what is characteristic of Arviat’s artists is the “tendency” to “work serially,” and to “explore a form and or subject through a multitude of permutations over a very long period of time”.

The favoured themes of Arviat are images of maternity and family, single figures and multiple faces, tending to be small, minimal and barely polished.

John Pangnark (1920–1980) and Andy Miki (1918-1982) are exemplars of the Arviat style. They both usually focused on a single theme – in Pangnark’s case mother and family, and in Kavik’s case, a figure. They both portrayed their subjects in abstract, geometric form and shared a serious sensibility, creating emotion through streamlined simplicity rather than detailed decoration.

Arviat is also known for its female artists, for example, Lucy Tasseor Tutsweetok (b.1934). Tasseor’s technique utilizes the stone in its bulk and leaves it essentially unworked, carving only the surfaces and edges of the stone. Her work focuses on family and community themes. Meeka Walsh, editor of Border Crossings art magazine, notes “perhaps a feminine sense of delicacy directs her to impose her intent on the stone in the least aggressive and radical way. In any case, the blocks are left intact with the figures and detailing extruding from the stone.” (44, 44a, 44b)

In contrast to the somberness of some of the community’s stone sculptors are Arviat’s antler sculptors. Described as playful and naturalistic these sculptures often depict shamanism and hunting. Antler sculptors, interestingly, tend to be male. (44c)


John Pangnark (1920-1980)


Andy Miki (1918-1983)


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Andy Miki (1918-1983)


Andy Miki (1918-1983)


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John Pangnark (1920-1980)


John Pangnark (1920-1980)


Lucy Tasseor Tutsweetok (1934-)


Lucy Tasseor Tutsweetok (1934-)


Lucy Tasseor Tutsweetok (1934-)


Lucy Tasseor Tutsweetok (1934-)


Luke Anowtalik (1932-)

Qamanittuaq (Baker Lake)


Qamanittuaq (Baker Lake)


Qamanittuaq (Baker Lake) from the airport,
c.1958

Qamanittuaq (translated as “where the river widens”) is located on the lake’s northwest shore near the mouth of the Thelon River, 320 kilometres inland from the west coast of the Hudson Bay, near the geographical centre of Canada. It is Nunavut’s only inland community.

Even within the relatively small confines of the region, nine Inuit cultural groups could be identified in the Qamanittuaq area prior to settlement. Four groups lived to the north of the present hamlet of Baker Lake: the Illuiliqmiut, Kihlirnirmiut, Hanningayuqmiut and Ukkuhiksalingmiut. The Qairnirmiut and Hauniqturmiut territories extended from the east to northwest of Baker Lake, the Akilinirmiut also lived northwest of Baker Lake and the Harvaqtuurmiut and Paalirmiut were located south of the lake.

Southern influence has been felt in the area for almost a century. In 1916 the Hudson’s Bay Company established a trading post at the mouth of the Kazan River, which flows into Baker Lake from the south. Twenty years later, the Hudson’s Bay Company set up shop and soon traders and Anglican and Roman Catholic missionaries would follow. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police established a temporary base at the east end of the lake in 1915, moving to the present settlement of Qamanittuaq in 1930. When children from the region were brought in for school in the 1950s parents eventually moved as well in order to keep their families together.

A community also well known for its print makers (for example, Jesse Oonark (1906-1985), close to half of the 500 residents of Qamanittuaq were creating sculpture by the mid 1960s.

The hard, green-black local stone dictates a style distinctly representative of Qamanittuaq. Solid, sometimes massive and monumental, yet elegant in its highly polished, ebony-like finish that highlights the form of the stone, the sensitivity of line and delicacy of detail. Inuit art scholar Susan Gustavison observes that many of the sculptors of this area produce work that is “very rounded,” with “bulging silhouettes” and “whose curves are reinforced by the internal, rhythmic movement of sleeves, pant legs, and other details”.

Dependent on the caribou hunt, antler is also used as both tool and material for sculpture as well as material for utilitarian tools.

Barnabus Arnasangaaq (b.1924) is an excellent example of Qamanittuaq sculptors; the movement in his muskox sculpture defies its powerful solidity.

As found in the works by Arnasangaaq and Tataniq, Qamanittuaq artists focus on the family, hunting, animals (especially musk ox), spirituality and mystical themes such as human and animal transformations. Differences in subject matter are slightly evident in the works of female versus male artists. Ten to twenty percent of Baker Lake’s sculptors are women who create sculpture on a smaller scale and more personal, choosing mythological themes more often than their male counterparts.

Presenting a different style of Qamanittuaq work, Luke Iksiktaaryuk (1909–1977) used antler as his material of choice. Allowing the antler to determine form and movement, Iksiktaaryuk’s works can be described as ethereal due to both the thin form of antler and the spiritual themes.


Peter Sevoga (1940-)


Thomas Sivuraq (1941-)


Barnabus Arnasungaaq (1924-)


Ada Eyetoaq (1934-)


Miriam Marealik Qiyuk (1933-)


Luke Iksiktaaryuk (1909-1977)


George Tataniq (1910-1991)


Mathew Aqigaaq (1940-)


Barnabus Arnasungaaq (1924-)


Marie Kuunnuaq (1933-1990)


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Luke Iksiktaaryuk (1909-1977)

Naujat (Repulse Bay)


Naujat (Repulse Bay)

Naujat (Repulse Bay)
Arctic Circle marker

Caribou gather at Naujat (Repulse Bay)

Naujat is Keewatin’s region most northerly community and is located right on the Arctic Circle. Naujat means "seagull resting place” in reference to the seagulls that return each summer from the south.

The origin of the English name “Repulse Bay” is not clear – some attribute it to an unknown captain of the early 18th century, who blocked by the ice was obliged to turn back, calling the Bay “the one that repulses”. Others believe that the name of the Bay comes from an English vessel called “Repulse”, patrolling the waters of Hudson Bay in the mid 18th century, and another possibility is the naming of the bay by Christopher Middleton in 1742 when he realized it was a cul de sac and not a route out of Hudson Bay. However the name was established, further visits during that decade resulted in the establishment of the whaling industry.

Following suit over a century later, the Hudson’s Bay Company saw the potential to exploit the region – by trading in fur this time – and built its first post in the settlement in 1916 and was joined by a rival fur trading company in 1923.

In the 1940s the local Inuit were encouraged by Catholic missionaries and the Hudson’s Bay Company to create ivory miniatures in the form of animals and humans that were part of larger scenes made from ivory, stone and antler. The influence of the Roman Catholic missionaries ensured there were no overt references to shamanism or traditional Inuit spiritual beliefs.

Repulse Bay is still known for small realistic sculptures in ivory, stone and antler, depicting animal or daily life scenes with a folk art flavour, as well as mythological subjects. Their skill in ivory miniatures has developed to such an extent that it is now famous for its ivory “micro-miniatures”.

Mark Tungilik (1913–1986) began to carve ivory in Keewatin and later continued at Pelly Bay.


Mark Tungilik (1913-1986)