September 13, 2022 – March 31, 2023


Works by Shuvinai Ashoona
Curated by Naulaq LeDrew

In the Instructional Centre Vitrines
Inuktitut translations by Rhoda Kayakjuak

Shuvinai Ashoona is a world-renowned third-generation Inuk artist living in Kinngait, Nunavut. Celebrated for her inventive drawings and fearless experimentation, Ashoona comes from a long line of innovative Inuit artists, including her grandmother Pitseolak Ashoona and cousin Annie Pootoogook. During the 1980s Ashoona was introduced to the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative’s renowned drawing, printing, and carving studio by her younger sister Goota Ashoona. Incorporated in 1959, the studio has the strongest and longest tradition of any community-run artmaking co-operative in the Arctic. Here, Ashoona has been working daily for more than twenty-five years, acting as a major force in the development and recognition of Inuit art in the Canadian and international art canon.

Ashoona’s distinct style dynamically blends traditional Inuit motifs with everyday life, from a deeply personal perspective. The artist does not act as a spokesperson for her culture, but rather a complex and sensitive storyteller, skillfully combining reality and imagination. Through these exemplary selections from her oeuvre, Ashoona’s vignettes provide glimpses into life in the North, while effectively demonstrating the innovative and resilient qualities of Inuit culture and artistry. 

Shuvinai Ashoona’s artworks were selected for acquisition to the Doris McCarthy Gallery Collection in 2021 by University of Toronto Inuk Knowledge Keeper and multidisciplinary artist Naulaq LeDrew. For Qanuqtuurunnarniq, LeDrew has selected related objects from her personal collection to complement and expand upon Ashoona’s drawings.

ᓱᕕᓇᐃ ᐊᓲᓇ ᐅᓇ ᓯᓚᕐᔪᐊᒥ-ᖃᐅᔨᒪᔭᐅᑦᑎᐊᖅᑐᖅ ᐊᔭᐅᑉᐱᐊᕆᔭᐅᔪᖅ ᐱᖓᔪᒋᔭᐅᕗᖅ ᐃᓄᒃ ᓴᓇᖕᖑᐊᖅᑎ ᑭᓐᖓᓂᑦ, ᓄᓇᕗᑦ. ᖁᕕᐊᓱᒍᑎᒋᓚᕗᑦ ᓴᓇᑐᔫᓂᖓ ᑎᑎᕋᐅᔭᖅᑕᖏᑦ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᐃᓕᕋᓱᒐᓂ ᖃᐅᔨᓴᕈᑎᒋᕙᒃᑕᖏᑦ. ᐊᓲᓇ ᐃᓚᒋᔭᐅᕗᖅ ᐃᒻᒪᑲᓪᓚᓂᑦ ᓴᓇᓐᖑᐊᑐᔪᒻᒪᕆᐋᓗᐃᑦ ᐃᓄᐃᑦ ᓴᓇᖕᖑᐊᖅᑎᑦ ᑎᑎᕋᐅᔭᖅᑎᑦ, ᑖᓐᓇ ᐊᓈᓇᑦᓯᐊᖓ ᐱᑦᓯᐅᓚᖅ ᐊᓲᓇ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᐃᓪᓗᖓ ᐋᓂ ᐳᑐᒍᖅ. ᑕᐃᑲᓂ 1980ᓂ ᐊᓲᓇ ᐱᒋᐊᖅᑎᑕᐅᓚᐅᖅᑐᖅ ᒍᐃᔅ ᐸᕙᓐ ᐃᔅᑭᒨ ᑯᐊᑉ ᑎᑎᕋᕆᐅᖅᓴᑎᓪᖢᒍ, ᑎᑎᖅᑐᒐᐅᔭᖅᓯᒪᓕᖅᖢᑎᒃ, ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᓴᓇᖕᖑᐊᕐᕕᖓ ᑖᔅᓱᒪ ᓄᑲᖓᑕ ᒎᑕ ᐊᓲᓇ. ᑎᒥᖑᖅᑎᑕᐅᓚᐅᖅᑐᖅ 1959-ᒥ, ᐅᓇ ᑎᑎᖅᑐᒐᕐᕕᒃ ᓴᖕᖏᓛᖑᔪᖅ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᐊᑯᓂᐅᓛᖑᔪᖅ ᐱᐅᓯᑐᖃᕐᓂ ᓇᒥᑐᐃᓐᓇᖅ ᓄᓇᓕᖕᓂ-ᐃᖏᕐᕋᑎᑕᐅᔪᓂ ᑎᑎᖅᑐᒐᓕᕆᓂᕐᒥᒃ ᑯᐊᐸᒃᑯᓂ ᐅᑭᐅᖅᑕᖅᑐᒥ. ᑕᒡᕙᓂ, ᐊᓲᓇ ᓴᓇᖃᑦᑕᓚᐅᖅᑐᖅ ᖃᐅᑕᒫᑦ ᐅᖓᑖᓄᑦ ᐊᕙᑎᑦ-ᑕᓪᓕᒪᓪᓗ ᐊᕐᕌᒍᓄᑦ, ᐱᓇᓱᐊᕈᑕᐅᒋᐊᓪᓚᒃᓯᒪᔪᖅ ᐱᕙᓪᓕᐊᑎᑕᐅᑦᑎᐊᖅᖢᓂ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᐃᓕᓴᕆᔭᐅᓪᓗᓂ ᐃᓄᐃᑦ ᓴᓇᖕᖑᐊᖅᑐᓕᕆᓂᖓ ᑲᓇᑕᒥ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᓯᓚᕐᔪᐊᒥ ᓴᕿᔮᕐᓂᖓᑦ.

ᓱᕕᓇᐃ ᐊᓲᓇ ᐊᔾᔨᒋᔭᐅᓐᖏᑦᑐᒥᒃ ᐃᓕᖁᓯᖃᖅᑐᖅ ᐊᑐᖅᓯᑦᑎᐊᖅᖢᓂ ᐃᓄᐃᑦ ᓴᓇᖃᑦᑕᖅᑕᖏᑦ ᐱᐅᓯᑐᖃᖏᓐᓂᒃ ᖃᐅᑕᒫᑦ ᐃᓅᓯᕆᔭᒥᓂᒃ, ᐃᓗᑐᔪᖅ ᐃᒻᒥᓂᖔᖅᑐᑦ ᑕᐅᑦᑐᕆᔭᒥᓂᒃ. ᐅᓇ ᑎᑎᕋᐅᔭᖅᑎ ᐅᖃᖅᑎᐅᓇᓱᐊᕐᓗᓂ ᐱᓐᖏᑦᑐᖅ ᐱᐅᓯᑐᖃᕐᒥᓄᑦ, ᑭᓯᐊᓂ ᐊᔾᔨᒌᓐᖏᑑᑕᐅᖕᒪᑕ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᐊᑦᑕᕐᓇᖅᑑᒋᓪᓗᑎᒃ ᐅᓂᒃᑳᖅᖢᒋᑦ, ᓴᓇᔪᓐᓇᑦᑎᐊᕋᒥ ᑲᑎᑦᖢᒋᑦ ᒫᓐᓇ ᐃᓅᓯᖅ ᐊᑐᖅᑕᕗᑦ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᐃᓱᒪᒋᑐᐃᓐᓇᖅᑕᓂ. ᑖᒃᑯᑎᒍᑦ ᐱᐅᓛᖏᑦ ᓂᕈᐊᖅᓯᒪᔭᓂ ᑕᒪᒃᑯᐊ ᓴᓇᓯᒪᔭᒥᓂᑦ, ᐊᓲᓇᐅᑉ ᑕᕐᕆᔭᐅᓯᐊᖏᓐᓂᑦ ᑕᑯᑎᑦᑎᔪᖅ ᐃᓅᓯᕆᔭᐅᔪᓂᒃ ᐅᑭᐅᖅᑕᖅᑐᒥ, ᓴᕿᑎᑦᑎᐊᖅᖢᒋᑦ ᓄᑖᑎᒍᑦ ᐱᓕᕆᔾᔪᑕᐅᓕᖅᑐᑦ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᐊᓐᓇᒍᓐᓇᕐᓂᖅ ᐃᓄᐃᑦ ᐱᐅᓯᑐᖃᑦᑎᐊᕙᖓᑦᑎᒍᑦ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᓴᓇᖑᐊᑦᑎᐊᒃᑳᓘᒐᒥᒃ.

ᓱᕕᓇᐃ ᐊᓲᓇ ᑎᑎᕋᐅᔭᖅᑕᖏᑦ ᓂᕈᐊᖑᓯᒪᔪᑦ ᓂᐅᕕᖅᑕᐅᓗᑎᒃ ᑐᐊᓕ ᒥᒃᑳᑎ ᑕᑯᔭᒐᖃᕐᕕᖓᓂ ᓄᐊᑕᐅᔪᓄᑦ ᑕᐃᑲᓂ 2021 ᐃᓕᓐᓂᐊᕐᕕᒃᔪᐊᒥᑦ ᑐᓛᓐᑐ ᐃᓄᒃ ᖃᐅᔨᒪᔨᐅᔪᖅ ᑎᒍᒥᐊᖅᑎᐅᔪᖅ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᖃᓄᑐᐃᓐᓇᖅ ᓴᓇᖃᑦᑕᖅᑐᖅ ᓇᐅᓪᓚᖅ ᓕᑐᓗ. ᑖᔅᓱᒧᖓ ᖃᓄᖅᑑᕈᓐᓇᕐᓂᖅ, ᓕᑐᓗ ᓂᕈᐊᖅᓯᒪᕗᖅ ᑕᒪᒃᑯᓄᖓ ᐃᓚᖏᓐᓂᒃ ᐱᖁᑎᓂ ᓇᖕᒥᓂᖅ ᓄᐊᑕᒥᓂᑦ ᐊᔾᔨᒋᑦᑎᐊᕐᓂᐊᕐᒪᒋᑦ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᐊᖏᒡᓕᒋᐊᕐᓗᒍ ᐊᓲᓇᐅᑉ ᑎᑎᕋᐅᔭᖃᑦᑕᖅᑕᖏᑦ.

About the Artist

Shuvinai Ashoona is a contemporary Kinngait artist whose work often combines reality and the imaginative. Ashoona first came to prominence in the late 1990s, when her artwork was included in the Cape Dorset Annual Print Collection of 1997. Her work can be found in many collections including the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, Canadian Museum of History, and Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. After being appointed to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 2017, Ashoona went on to win the coveted Gershon Iskowitz Prize in 2018. The prize is presented annually to an artist who has made an outstanding contribution to the visual arts in Canada.

About the Curator

Born and raised in Apex Hill, Nunavut, Naulaq LeDrew is Inuk and was brought up with eight siblings and many cousins. During her formative years in Apex Hill, Naulaq learned from her family how to live traditionally, developing a deep respect for the land and all that it provides that is grounded in Inuit knowledge and understandings. Naulaq has supported the Urban Inuit community in Toronto for many years and has been elected to be an Inuit community knowledge keeper.

As part of her responsibilities in community, Naulaq has presented at universities and symposiums on the topic of Inuit well being, has provided ceremonial openings for organizations and has served lightening qulliq (oil lamp) for Ontario's Ministers.

Naulaq has collaborated with a Dance Choreographer Avatara Ayuso from London England, which they had performed with room filled audiences about Colonization in Dresden Germany and London England. They continue to make plans to do more performances in Canada and Europe.

Naulaq is also a co-founder of Head Start program for children in Toronto, she is a member of several committees and councils of Universities & Organizations. Naulaq works for University of Toronto and part time with McMaster University.

Naulaq was a Inuk Guest for TVO Kids tv show, talking about the Landmark Inukshuk, how an Inukshuk is a big part of Inuit Culture.

Her favourite pastime is sewing seal skin and creating art and crafts that celebrate her Inuk heritage. Naulaq is happily married to Randall LeDrew, and between them they have seven children and twelve grandchildren.