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Exploring the Transformative Power of Inuit Art at Winnipeg Art Gallery

May 27, 2024

4 minute read
Post Contributed by Kanyin Oni, Senior Analyst – Customer Insights (Field Support), Workplace Solutions, National Accounts, Canada Life 
Leadership Winnipeg Class of 2023-2024

Located in the heART of downtown Winnipeg, amid bustling streets and vibrant culture, lies a beacon of artistic expression of the Metis, Inuit, and First Nations people – The Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG). Its recent expansion, called Qaumajuq, means “it is bright, it is lit” and is a name gifted through the naming circle to the WAG.

Recently, I had the pleasure of touring the Gallery with Leadership Winnipeg. We began our day by listening to Dr. Stephen Borys, Director, and CEO of the WAG-Qaumajuq. Dr. Borys shared insights into the transformative power of art, emphasizing that art is a voice that has profound impacts on individuals and communities alike. The WAG is committed to transparency, exposure and opening the inside to the outside — a philosophy reflected in the gallery’s design and ethos.

My highlight of the day was hearing a story from Colleen Leduc, the WAG’s learning coordinator, and our very knowledgeable tour guide about Nuliajuk, also known as Sedna, an Inuit sea spirit. In that moment, I realized for a story to become something that transcends time it is important to share one’s story and pass the story down from generation to generation.  This is what the WAG is all about.

The session also featured voices from passionate leaders in our city’s arts and culture sector. They discussed what it means to be on a board, their different perspectives through diversity in skillsets, and their experiences with professional development workshops. Brigitte Sandron, Board Chair of the Manitoba Museum, discussed the role of a board in strategic planning, understanding stakeholder needs and working on decolonization and repatriation of many arts of First Nation, Inuit, and Metis people.

There is a lot of support in Winnipeg when it comes to art and culture. Winnipeg is a place for people who love to see and experience art in its many forms, be it through dance, film, paintings, sculpture, opera, etc. I enjoy living in this city because of all these things I can experience, and it’s all thanks to the hard work and passion of these leaders and their staff in making it happen. These leaders come across many challenges but at the end of the day, they share a vision that art is fundamental to life.

Thank you to all the speakers for sharing your stories, Ellen and Doneta for organizing this beautiful session, my peers who I always enjoy seeing at each session, and most importantly Canada Life for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this outstanding program.

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