Baffin Inuit pledge $5 million toward Nunavut heritage centre
The QIA hopes their commitment inspires other groups to kick in money too
The organization that represents Qikiqtani Inuit is hoping a $5 million cash injection will help kick-start a northern home for Inuit archeological artifacts and other historical items.
The Qikiqtani Inuit Association’s board of directors pledged the money for a Nunavut Heritage Centre Oct. 5 during a board meeting in Iqaluit.
“Establishing a heritage centre is recognized as an urgent need under the Nunavut Agreement,” said QIA President P.J. Akeeagok in a news release.
Nunavut is the only jurisdiction in Canada without a designated heritage space to house and present its history, the release said.
That’s because historical artworks and artifacts must be stored in a unique facility where temperature and humidity can be strictly controlled and which has enough storage space to house thousands of pieces found within Nunavut’s modern boundary.
Up until recently, historical Nunavut artworks and artifacts were stored at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre in Yellowknife.
But last year, the Nunavut government worked out partnership arrangements to transfer historical art pieces to the Winnipeg Art Gallery and to relocate museum artifacts—some 140,000—to the Canadian Museum Of Nature’s state-of-the-art collections facility in Gatineau, Que.
Those partnerships are considered temporary until Nunavut can find the money to build its own facility North of 60.
Although such a territorial facility goes beyond the QIA’s Baffin Inuit focus, Akeeagok and his board feel it’s important enough to set aside money for it.
“The heritage centre would empower our communities and instil a sense of pride in our culture by allowing more Inuit to gain exposure to the rich traditional knowledge and skills of our ancestors,” Akeeagok said in the release.
The QIA said it would donate the money, “provided that the $70 to $90 million project will receive its financing through the territorial and federal government and a number of other factors to allow the project to go through.”
The announcement came with a call to action from other Inuit groups, the Government of Nunavut and “other relevant organizations,” to join them in supporting a heritage centre.