Spotlight on Inuit Futures in Arts Leadership

Project Spotlight: A seven-year program supports mentorship, self-directed learning, and strengthening circumpolar connections.

Indigenous Sovereignty Circumpolar Collaboration Creating
Large group of people pose together smiling, in a gallery setting.

Inuit Futures in Arts Leadership: The Pilimmaksarniq/Pijariuqsarniq Project is a seven-year project funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to support Inuit and Inuvialuit to become leaders within their communities in all areas of the arts, by providing innovative, hands-on mentoring and training opportunities across the North and South. Led by an all-Inuit team of researchers and artists from across Inuit Nunangat (the four Inuit regions of Canada), Inuit Futures Ilinniaqtuit (students/learners) gain valuable skills and knowledge both through self-designed research and by participating in collaborations with the network of arts and educational institutions across the North and South. These experiences improve students’ readiness for careers in the arts as well as fostering a new generation of knowledge creators.

Large group of people pose together smiling, in a gallery setting.
Inuit Futures in Arts Leadership first year cohort at the 2019 Venice Biennale. PHOTO: TOM MCLEOD.

Ilinniaqtuit have engaged in a wide variety of arts-related activities throughout the project, often for the first time, including: exhibition research and creation; popular and scholarly publishing and editing; performance, film and video production; arts administration; social media and website creation; event planning, coordination, and more. Matching students to opportunities and mentors is done in conversation according to the interests, expectations and abilities of all involved.

Inuit Futures also provides opportunities for Ilinniaqtuit to attend major international arts events. In May of 2019, the first Inuit Futures Summer Institute brought together a cohort of Ilinniaqtuit with Inuit arts leaders at the 58th Venice Biennale where Canada was represented by Isuma, the award-winning Inuit video arts collective, marking the first time Inuit art was exhibited at the Canadian Pavilion. Coinciding with this momentous event, Inuit Futures partnered with the Inuit Art Foundation to publish a special digital and print issue of Inuit Art Quarterly showcasing the critical and creative contributions by Ilinniaqtuit who offered a distinctly Inuit perspective on the Biennale. Co-edited by Emily Henderson and Napatsi Folger, this is the first issue of IAQ to be entirely produced by Inuit contributors, featuring artwork and writing by Darcie Bernhardt, Tom Mcleod, Megan Kyak- Monteith, Jason Sikoak, Jessica Winters and Krista Ulujuk Zawadski.

The Summer Institute in Venice was a collaborative effort between Inuit Futures and the Office of Contemporary Art Norway to build Indigenous circumpolar alliances by strengthening exchanges between Inuit and Sámi artists and curators as they imagined the future. Inspirational Sámi leaders Aili Keskitalo (Sámi President of Norway), Tiina Sanila-Aikio (Sámi President of Finland), Per-Olof Nutti (Sámi President of Sweden), and Henrik Olsen (Council Member on Cultural Affairs from the Sámi Parliament in Norway) were present to offer insights into Sámi perspectives today and into the future, as well as deepen connections and dialogue among the next generation of Inuit and Sámi artists, scholars and curators.


This story is part of the Inuit Futures in Arts Leadership: The Pilimmaksarniq/Pijariuqsarniq Project Spotlight. View more content from the Spotlight here.