M992.111.1 | Inukshuk

Jusipi Nalukturuk
Inuit: Nunavimiut
1990-1992, 20th century
300 x 270 cm
Gift of the Ministre des Affaires Culturelles du Quebec
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  sculpture (112) , Sculpture (113)
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This inukshuk 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. It was created by Jusipi Nalukturuk with the assistance of Booby Aupaluktuk and Allie Nartai. The sculpture was first constructed on Naqsaluk Island off the village of Inukjuak in Nunavik. One the work was completed, the stones were numbered and marked, and the inukshuk dismantled for shipment. It was rebuilt in the workshops of the Centre des arts contemporains du Québec in Montreal and exhibited in the Old Port of Montreak during the summer of 1992 as part of the 1er Salon international de la sculpture extérieure de Montréal. The sculpture was then transported in a single piece to its present home in front of the McCord Museum.

The inukshuk measures 3 meters in height by 2.7 meters in width and weighs 9 tons. It is constructed with some 200 stones.

Keys to History

Inukshuit (plural of inukshuk) are found in their 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 at strategic sites, generally on high ground, which makes them visible from a great distance. Depending on their location, shape and orientation, inukshuit fulfill many varied functions.

  • What

    They serve as trail markers, for example, suggesting the best route to follow, or indicate ideal campsite, the depth of snow, a dangerous river, or perhaps a caribou trail. Strategically placed, they are an invaluable aid to the hunter, guiding him the to the best spot for hunting caribou.

  • Where

    Clearly outlined against the sky or snow-covered expanses, they are visible from great distances and serve as landmarks to guide traveler, both on land and water.

  • When

    They also mark the site of an important event, for example, or the place where a death has occurred, and other memorable events, such as special meetings with other groups.

  • Who

    In addition to their practical uses, inukshuit often take on a spiritual or sacred dimension. They may be erected to the memory of a deceased ancestor or important person, or on the site selected by a shaman.