Inuksuk shows the Way

Posted on Tuesday, November 10th, 2009 at 2:10 pm

Guardians of the North

By Barbra Hesson

Canada’s Arctic has three territories:  the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and on April 1, 1999, the Canadian territory of Nunavut was created. It is the largest territory and has one-fifth of the land in Canada. Nunavut is made up of a mainland and many islands in the Arctic Ocean.   The symbol on the Nunavut flag is the Inuksuk (EE-NOOK-SOOK.)

An Inuksuk is a stone pile arranged in the likeness of a person.  It was first built by the Canadian people of the North called the Inuit.  The Inuit have lived in the areas now called Canada, Alaska, and Greenland for thousands of years.

The word Inuksuk means ‘in the image of man.’  It is an extension of the work Inuk which means ‘a human being.’

Legend has it that they were first built by a young Inuit girl to show her father the way home during a snow storm.

The meaning of each rock formation is different.  In the Artic where there are no trees and few land marks they were used as signs, pointing to a good hunting or fishing spot or used to mark where food was stored.  Some were built to help travelers find a safe trail or identify a family home.

Over time the Inuksuk has become a sign of hope and friendship. In appreciation of Canada’s aboriginal heritage the Inuksuk has become the official symbol for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games to be held in Vancouver, British Columbia.  It has been named ILANAAQ, which is the Inuit word for ‘friend.’

The Inuksuk has become a popular image and can be seen along many highways in Canada.

You can build your own Inuksuk wherever you go.  You can leave it on a beach or near a pathway to show that you have enjoyed your stay and welcome others to come.  Or you can build one at home and put it in your garden or on your desk.

How to build your own Inuksuk:

An Inuksuk can be built any size you wish, using as many or as little pieces, and from any kind of stone.  Look for rocks with flat bottoms and tops as they are the best for stacking.  Experiment by piling your stones into different arrangements.

Step 1.  Start with a base to build your Inuksuk; a larger stone with a level surface.

Step 2. On top of this place two leg stones that are the same in height and flat on the top and bottom.

Step 3.  Place one or more stones across the legs to create the body.

Step  4.  Next a long flat stone twice the width of the body creates the arms.  Or you may use two smaller stones which hang over the edge.

Step 5.   Place a heavier piece on top of the arms.  This adds weight and becomes the shoulders.

Step 6.  Look for a round stone for the head.  It is best if it has a slightly flat bottom.

Inuksuit (plural of Inuksuk) were made to fit perfectly and stand tall over many years.  However if you wish to keep yours sturdy you may use white glue that is suitable for crafts with wood, paper, fabric or ceramics.  You may need a helping hand with this, and remember to let it dry for 24 hours before you move it.

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