Gayle Uyagaqi Kabloona’s work puts a modern take on traditional Inuit imagery, and strong women frequently make appearances in her art, such as this image of a Inuit woman in traditional dress lighting a qulliq depicted on a new stamp commemorating National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. (Photo courtesy of Canada Post)

Baker Lake artist’s design chosen for truth and reconciliation stamp

Gayle Uyagaqi Kabloona’s woman lighting a qulliq 1 of 4 designs chosen by Canada Post

By Andrea Sakiyama Kennedy

These days, opportunity doesn’t knock, it sends emails.

And when Gayle Uyagaqi Kabloona received such an email earlier this year, inviting her to submit art concepts for a Canada Post stamp to commemorate this year’s National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, she was quick to say yes.

The series of four stamps is meant to showcase the visions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis artists for the future of truth and reconciliation, as well as reflect a message to Canadians of the responsibility that still lies before them.

In the end, Kabloona’s design was one of four chosen by Canada Post to appear on the stamp.

Artist Gayle Uyagaqi Kabloona says she was honoured to be able to design one of four new stamps commemorating National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. (Photo courtesy of Gayle Uyagaqi Kabloona)

A multidisciplinary artist, Kabloona works in textiles, printmaking and drawings. Her stamp design is a black-and-white block print of an Inuit woman in traditional dress, lighting a qulliq.

This image is meant to signify caretaking and the role women play in caring for culture, caring for herself and for others as a means of healing.

A set of four new stamps released by Canada Post to commemorate the ongoing work of truth and reconciliation. (Photo courtesy of Canada Post)

Reflecting on the different styles of Indigenous art shown on each stamp, Kabloona said each plays an important part of the message of truth and reconciliation.

“Even the mediums that we were all working in were so diverse and different that it is a nice representation of the people that make up Canada,” said Kabloona.

“We are all very separate people, and sometimes different nations all living, in my opinion, all on Indigenous land.”

Kabloona, who was born in Baker Lake and now lives in Ottawa, has art in her blood. She is the granddaughter of artist Victoria Mamnguqsualuk and the great-granddaughter of artist Jessie Oonark, both of whom have been celebrated for their artistic representations of the Inuit people and culture.

The stamps are available on the Canada Post website. Kabloona said the opportunity to participate in this project was an honour, but she admitted “it feels really daunting” to have her artwork be representative of the Inuit people and culture.

“This is the biggest project I have had where it is kind of like I am representing the larger population, and I felt that when I was working on it I wanted to do it as well as I could so that I wasn’t doing any disrespect to other people’s opinions, other people’s experiences.”

The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is observed on Sept. 30.


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