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An Inukshuk
at the McCord Museum of Canadian History

Montreal, Tuesday, January 7, 1997 — The inukshuk that occupies a place of honour in front of the McCord Museum of Canadian History was inaugurated for the reopening of the Museum in 1992. This stone sculpture was created by Jusipi Nalukturuk on Naqsaluk Island off the village of Inukjuak in Nunavik (northern Quebec), and was erected under the terms of the Politique d'intégration des arts à l'architecture et à l'environnement of the ministère des Affaires culturelles du Québec. The McCord Museum is proud to include this impressive piece of Inuit art in its important collection.

Inukshuks are found in the hundreds wherever Inuit have settled. Literally meaning "that which acts on behalf of man," they are among the most remarkable structures ever built by the Inuit. In varying shapes and sizes, and most often anthropomorphic in form, these sculptures are erected on strategic sites, and are an invaluable aid to the hunter. Depending on their location, shape and orientation, inukshuks fulfill many functions. They serve as trail markers, for example, suggesting the best route to follow, or indicate an ideal campsite, the depth of the snow, a dangerous river, or perhaps a caribou trail.

Because inukshuks are clearly outlined against the sky or snow-covered expanse, they are visible from great distances and serve as landmarks to guide the traveller, both on land and water. They may also be built to mark the site of an important event, or the place where a death has occurred, or other memorable events, such as special meetings. In addition to their practical uses, inukshuks often take on a spiritual or sacred dimension. They may be erected in memory of a deceased ancestor or important person, perhaps, or on a particular site selected by a shaman.

The McCord's inukshuk will no doubt become a landmark for passers-by on Sherbrooke Street. Its creator, Jusipi Nalukturuk, was assisted by two young men from his village, Bobby Aupaluktuk and Allie Nartai. A giant with humanoid characteristics, the inukshuk measures more than 3 metres in height, weighs 9 tons and was originally erected on Naqsaluk Island, more than 2,000 kilometres north of Montreal. Once the work had been completed, the 200 stones were numbered and marked, and the inukshuk dismantled for shipment. Stone by stone, the sculpture was transported by canoe to a trawler anchored off the island. It was then taken to the village of Inukjuak, where it was placed in a container for shipment to Montreal, its final destination.

The inukshuk was rebuilt in the workshops of the Centre des arts contemporains du Québec in Montreal, and exhibited in the Old Port of Montreal during the summer of 1992 as part of Montreal's 1er Salon internationale de la sculpture extérieure de Montréal. The sculpture was then transported in a single piece to its new home in front of the McCord Museum of Canadian History.

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Wanda Palma or Helen Bougas
(514) 398-7100

The McCord Museum is grateful for the support of the Museum Assistance Program of the Department of Canadian Heritage, the ministère de la Culture et des Communications du Québec and the Conseil des arts de la Communauté urbaine de Montréal.