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Nunavik (Arctic Quebec) Region

Akulivik (Cape Smith)


Akulivik (Cape Smith)


Akulivik (Cape Smith)

Akulivik was named for its surrounding geography. Akulivik means “central prong of a kakivak” which describes the land and sea around it. A peninsula jutting into Hudson Bay between two small bodies of water, the area is in the shape of a kakivak, a traditional, trident-shaped spear used for fishing. (108) It is located on the east coast of Hudson Bay. Just a few minutes from Akulivik is Qikirtajuaq (Smith Island), a traditional hunting ground.

Also a good area for hunting, Akulivik’s cape provides protection for the crumbled remains of fossilized seashells that give the soil its white sandy texture.

Interaction with Europeans dates back to 1610 when explorer Henry Hudson visited Qikirtajuaq. The island was given its English name in 1750 in honour of Sir Thomas Smith, merchant, first Governor of The Company of Adventurers and discoverer of the Northwest Passage. (109)

The existence of the settlement of Akulivik has been in large part a result of the actions of the Hudson’s Bay Company. In 1922, the Company established a post on the site of today’s Akulivik. The outpost was moved to a more strategic and accessible point on Qikirtajuaq, the nearby island, in 1926. Inuit who had been living along the coast began to congregate and settle around the trading post on Qikirtajuaq and from 1922 to 1955, used the area where Akulivik is located today as their summer camp. The closure of the post on Qikirtajuaq in 1952 forced the settled Inuit to move to Puvirnituq, the next closest trading post.

The displaced Inuit, however, never forgot where they had grown up. In 1973, one family moved back to the area. Later, others followed and together they built the village of Akulivik. Akulivik was incorporated as a community in 1976.

Based on their strong hunting heritage, the sculpture of this community is detailed and masculine often depicting action-filled hunting scenes. Many artists originally from Puvirnituq now live in Akulivik, also bringing the POV style to Akuvilik’s sculpture. (110)


A kakivak


Johnny Kakutuk (1946-)


Sir Thomas Smith c.1558-aft.1625

Inukjuak (Port Harrison, Inoucdjouac)


Inukjuak (Port Harrison, Inoucdjouac)

Inukjuak (Port Harrison, Inoucdjouac)

Northern Lights over Inukjuak (Port Harrison, Inoucdjouac)

Inukjuak is located on the eastern side of Hudson Bay, on the north bank of the Innuksuak River. Inukjuak translates as “The Giant”.

While archaeological sites along the river indicate thousands of years of inhabitation, recent interaction with ‘qallunaaq’ did not seem to have taken place until the 20th century.

Named Port Harrison at the turn of the 20th century, the French fur trading company Révillon Frères was first to establish a trading post followed by the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1920. Buying out its competition in 1936 the HBC enjoyed a fur trade monopoly until 1958. Through the 20s, 30s and 40s, missionaries arrived and the federal government began delivering service drawing Inuit to settle in the village in the 1950s. However, this time of settlement quickly turned into one of the worst periods for the Inuit. Federal government bureaucrats, in an attempt to occupy the High Arctic, relocated Inuit from Inukjuak to essentially act as human flagposts. Families were involuntarily split and moved some 2,000 kilometres north to Resolute Bay and Grise Fjord, to harsher climes and unfamiliar environs. It was not until 1996 that the Canadian government provided monetary compensation to the surviving relocatees and their families, but fell short of apologizing to the Inuit for the hardships they had endured. Instead, it offered a ‘statement of reconciliation.’

Perhaps based on their harsh history, sculpture from Inukjuak is strongly realistic. The general form of the sculpture is broad and rounded. Sculpture is created in images of family and everyday life of traditional times, the human figure and wildlife. Hunting scenes are favourites, often naturalistic and incised. The stone primarily used in this area is a dark green serpentine.

There are only a few female sculptors in this area and, interestingly, the male sculptors somewhat uncharacteristically focus on the themes of family and traditional female camp activities.

Inukjuak sculptor Johnny Inukpuk (b. 1911) was an early star of Inuit art with his broad rounded figures, which would become known as the Inukjuak style. Ingo Hessel describes classic Inukjuak style as: “rooted to the ground, self-contained, somewhat static,” in addition to what he says is a “quiet, somewhat reserved tone”.

Simeonie Weetaluktuk’s (1921 – ) sculptures are also good examples of this region’s style as are Abraham Pov’s (1927-)


Akeeaktashuk (1898-1954)


Johnny Inukpuk (1911-)


Johnny Inukpuk (1911-)

attrib: Syollie Weetaluktuk (1906-1962)


Johnny Inukpuk (1911-)


Simeonie Weetaluktuk (1921-)

Abraham Pov (1927-)

Puvirnituq (Povungnituk or POV)


Puvirnituq (Povungnituk or POV)

Puvirnituq (Povungnituk or POV)

Puvirnituq (Povungnituk or POV)

Puvirnituq translates as “place that smells of rotten meat”. There are several explanations for the name – one story refers to caribou migrating across the river being swept downstream and drowning, another talks of a deadly epidemic, and the last one to the time period of European whalers and intensive whaling in the area, all with the final scene of rotting caribou, whales or humans.

The POV region of the 1950s produced a bold realistic style – which has become the dominant characteristic of the entire area. The sculpture is described as bold, confident, masculine. Predominantly male, POV sculptors often depict hunters—both human and animal, mythological subject matter and personal narratives and dreams.

There is a gritty realism in some of the POV works; subject matter that is in direct contradiction to the simplistic naïve view of Inuit and their art. POV art ranges from the elegant to the coarse – with scenes of violence, bodily functions, and eroticism.

This contradiction in the themes of POV art was observed by Inuit art authority George Swinton as a ‘typically untypical paradox”, in that there was an identifiable style in the community – but also diversity.

This ‘typical untypical’ juxtaposition has led to comparisons with 20th century European art. In 1967 an anthropologist encouraged POV artists to “depict things never seen before” and the result was artwork that was fantastic and surreal, similar to the art of Dali, Bosch and Tanguy.

Two POV artists who represent the sense of individuality within a community theme are Davidialuk Alasua Amittu (1910–1976) and Joe Talirunili (1893–1976).


Anonymous – Puvirnituq (Povungnituk or POV)


Eli Sallualu Qinuajua (1937-)


Davidialuk Amittu Alasua (1910-1976)


Davidialuk Amittu Alasua (1910-1976)


Joe Talirunili (1893-1976) The Migration


Joe Talirunili (1893-1976)


Isapik Smith (1931-1970) c.1965


Davidialuk Amittu Alasua (1910-1976) the
demon Katyutayuuq


Davidialuk Amittu Alasua (1910-1976) Under
the Northern Lights


Davidialuk Amittu Alasua (1910-1976)


Joe Talirunili (1893-1976)


Joe Talirunili (1893-1976)

Salluit (Sugluk, Saglouc)


Salluit (Sugluk, Saglouc)


Salluit (Sugluk, Saglouc)

Salluit is located on the Hudson Strait, on the east bank of the Saglouc Fjord, 120 kilometres east of Ivujivik and 600 kilometres northwest of Kuujjuaq. Salluit has been previously known as "Saglouc" or "Sugluk," variations of the name Salluit, which means "skinny people." Salluit became the official name in 1979.

As the middle point between Nunavik’s 14 communities, it is a strategic location for meetings attended by people of the Hudson and Ungava coasts.

Contrary to Povungnituk, many Salluit sculptors are female, and the themes reflected in their work are more evenly divided along gender lines.

The stone of this area is grey with a coarse consistency. This stone could be shaped to create negative space but did not lend itself to detailed incising or polishing. Despite these restrictions sculptors strive for realistic detail in their work, developing a style of archaic, simplified form. A common theme is of people engaged in daily tasks.


Mary Sanaaq Papigatok (1910-1987)


Lizzie Akumalik Kakayak (1922-D)


Annie Ikikkuaq Saviakjuk (1938-)

Kangirsuk (Payne Bay, Bellin)


Kangirsuk (Payne Bay, Bellin)

Kangirsuk, meaning ‘the bay’ in Inuktitut, is located on the north shore of the Payne River, 13 kilometres inland from Ungava Bay and 230 kilometres north of Kuujjuaq. A small community, its current population is under 400.

A nearby archaeological site of a stone foundation of a long-house is believed to be the remains of Vikings, presumed to have been in the area in the 11th century.

Kangirsuk developed around trading posts established by the French fur company Révillon Frères in 1921 and, four years later, the Hudson’s Bay Company.

Kangirsuk is known to produce small, quirky, often crudely carved folk-art style stone carvings. The Canadian federal government department, Indian and Northern Affairs, echoed this assessment with the following comment: “its appeal lies chiefly in its quaint charm rather than technical virtuosity”. Portions of the dull grey stone used are often roughly blackened as accents to the sculpture.

Kangirsuk artist Thomassie Kudluk (1910-1989) expressed his individuality not only in his sculpture, but also in the titles he gave to his sculpture that, like his work, demonstrated his appreciation of the “foibles of human existence”.


Thomassie Kudluk (1910-1989) "We clean ourselves
this way"


Thomassie Kudluk (1910-1989) "My boyfriend
works at the co-op"

Kangiqsualujjuaq (George River)


Kangiqsualujjuaq (George River)

Kangiqsualujjuaq is the easternmost village of Nunavik. It is located about 160 kilometres to the north-east of Kuujjuaq, situated 25 kilometres from Ungava Bay on the George River, nestled at the end of a cove called Akilasakalluq. The village stands in the shadow of an granite rock outcrop to the north of the bay. Despite its northerly location, the valley sheltering the village is rich with vegetation. In the 1960s, the village even operated a small spruce lumber mill.

Although there has been activity in the area for some 200 years, Kangiqsualujjuaq did not develop as a village until the early 1960s. The Hudson’s Bay Company operated a post from 1838 to 1842, 1876 to 1915 and 1923 to 1932, but the Inuit of the area never settled around the post, preferring to live along the coast in summer and setting their camps inland in winter. In 1959, local Inuit established the first co-operative in Northern Quebec to market arctic char.

Kangiqsualujjuaq was legally established as a municipality in 1980.

Due to its late development, the artwork of this area was not well known until the 1970s. During this period the area’s artists began to specialize in antler sculpture that ranged from small art works created from pieces of antler, to that of works carved from full antler racks. Noteworthy in these works is their sense of movement and what Ingo Hessel calls a “lively folk-art sensibility”.


Joseph Morgan (1914-1985)