Inuksuk or Inunnguaq?

inukshukI’ve recently discovered that although the fabulous 1989 sculpture on the rooftop of the Winnipeg Art Gallery by Manasie Akpaliapik is called Inuksuk it really isn’t one.  It is in fact a inunnguaq.  What’s the difference? 

inukshuks on Foxe Peninsula

Inukshuks on Foxe Peninsula- Baffin Island- photo by Ansgar Walk

According to the Canadian Encyclopedia inuksuks which have been found at sites that date from as long ago as 2400 BC, were formations of rocks used by people across the Arctic as markers for all kinds of purposes- navigational routes, good kayak landing spots, good hunting and fishing sites, locations of celebrations and caches of meat. These markers could be in many different formations. 

Inunnguaq on the other hand were shaped like human beings and could venerate a person, mark a spot for people to meet, or have spiritual significance. 


Flag of Nunavut

An article in the Toronto Globe and Mail discusses the use of the inuksuk or inukshuk on the flag of the Nunavut Territory and the way the inunnguaq was used as a symbol for the Canadian Olympics in 2010 but mistakenly called an inuksuk.  Some people think inukshuks and inunnguaqs are important Inuit cultural symbols and should not be used for decoration or marketing. What do you think?

Tourists from around the world are building impromptu inukshuks all over the place in Canada’s national parks and conservation officers are removing them because they alter the natural landscape. Are the officers doing the right thing? 

I’ve learned there are inunnguaqs mistakenly called inukshuks all over the world.  


An “inukshuk” but really a inunnguaq in Hiroshima Japan donated by a variety of Canadian groups as a landmark for peace.


A Inunnguaq labeled as an inuksuk in the Canadian Embassy in Washington DC

Other posts……….

Build Your Own

Making Wishes in Sedona

Getting Nostalgic and Just a Little Sad

1 Comment

Filed under Art, winnipeg art gallery

One response to “Inuksuk or Inunnguaq?

  1. Pingback: ما هو inukshuk? اهلا بكم في كندا. Welcome to canada

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