The Inuit occupy and survive in the northern territories in extraordinary ways. They have made of whaling a vital relationship. The 611 First Nations that occupy the rest of Kanata have learned to adapt their lifestyles and cultural forms to the rhythms of the seasons, including winter. The Canadiens will do the same. One of the most famous songs of the great Quebec poet and songwriter Gilles Vigneault famously proclaims "Mon pays ce n’est pas un pays, c'est l'hiver." (“My country is not a country, it’s winter.”). We continue to live together here in North America. Thus, snowshoeing, playing lacrosse in summer and ice hockey in winter, hunting big game modulate all to the rhythm of the seasons and Nature.
Hunting is based on a sacred relationship to the spirit of animals. Whether be it towards great polar bears, fearsome Grizzlies, or black bears, thank-you rituals, like Makusham, exist. A pipe is smoked in their honour and everything is eaten in order to benefit from their wisdom. Inuit sculpture depictures hunting scenes that translate into visual language this ethic, so distinct from that of present "sportsmen".
A robust and spectacular Amerindian sport, lacrosse was the official summer sport in Kanata, while ice hockey was the winter sport. Still very popular in the form of professional leagues in America and Europe, Iroquois teams excel while perpetuating its traditional ritual dimensions. These team sports inspire art, for example this work merges the lacrosse stick with the hockey stick.
Originally made with strips of babiche (sinue) from animals such as moose and having evolved with new materials, the efficient design of snowshoes makes for an essential piece of equipment for winter walkers. The Ancients knew how to recognize different styles associated with families and thus their territories. Four types of snowshoes are recognizable: the beaver tail, the raised and tapered swallow tail...and here, the famous bear's paw, round and flat.
In all fields of expression, the Inuit imagination relates to the future of humanity. So is it in this impressive sculpture exhibited as table center piece during the Summit talks. Representing the largest of marine mammals, appropriately carved out of whale bone, their precarious survival serves as a reminder of the responsibility to protect Mother Earth, and the ecosystem also shared by political leaders all citizens alike.
Sculpture - Whale
Norman Young 1985 Whale bone 11 x 31,5 x 9 cm Donation by Véronique et Pierre Riverin; MMAQ - 2009.15.165
Charlie Sivuarapik Around 1979 Walrus ivory 13 x 57 x 4 cm Donation by Véronique et Pierre Riverin; MMAQ - 2009.15.147
19th Century Wood; sinew Carrier Collection, ancien musée du Collège de Saint-Laurent - MMAQ - 1982.1
Snowshoes - Bear paws
1850-1870 Wood; sinew 50,7 x 59,8 x 1,8 cm Collection Jean-Marie Gauvreau - MMAQ - 732-0576.1-2
Lacross and hockey stick
Tehariulen Michel Savard 2017 Wood; feathers; sinew 117 x 3 x 28 cm Loan from Guy Sioui Durand