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Inuit Communities Panel
Blandina Makkik, Ryan Oliver, Koomuatuk Sapa Curley and moderated by Anna Hudson

The current decline in market support for Inuit art and crafts is happening alongside a rise in digital media for global cultural expression. This shift marks a loss of revenue for territorial economies, and underscores issues of uneven access to the Information and Communication Technologies across the Canadian arctic. Panelists will address questions of material supply and market development; the agency of artists and craftspeople in the stewardship of their careers; and the future role of technology in reimagining this agency to mobilize Inuit cultural heritage.


Blandina Makkik



Blandina Makkik was born and raised in Igloolik on the northwestern coast off Baffin Island, Nunavut. Previous to her current position as Inuit and Native Gallery Director with Craft Ontario, she worked for the Government of Nunavut. She has also worked as an Advisor for the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade where she traveled extensively throughout the Circumpolar world. Blandina was the Senior Producer for the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation where she developed the first children’s television programming available in Inuktitut. Blandina joined Craft Ontario in 2005.




Ryan Oliver



Ryan Oliver is the owner and lead producer with Pinnguaq, the first and only tech startup in the Canadian Arctic.  Pinnguaq is responsible for localizing existing games into Indigenous languages, developing their own original content across all platforms and teaching programming and game design across Nunavut.  Pinnguaq's most recent project is "Art Alive", a game in which Inuit print is brought to life and made into interactive gaming experiences. 


Koomuatuk Sapa Curley
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Koomuatuk Curley’s grandparents, Qaaqa Ashoona and Mayoureak Ashoona, taught him how to carve during the summers he spent as a child at their outpost camp near Cape Dorset, Nunavut. Koomuatuk’s artistic practice embraces the Ashoona family creative legacy. His style is Inuit traditional carving, using tools like axe, chisels, and hand files. Koomuatuk also sculpts with grinders and drills, through which he evolved a unique touch.

Curley started his professional carving career when he was in junior high school, surrounded by his family of artists and the creative community in Cape Dorset. He continues to carve all the northern animals like Polar bears, birds, whales, Inuit figures and the sea goddess, Sedna, and dancing polar bears. Curley uses all different kind materials: Serpentine, marble, jade, soap stone, ivory, whale bone alabaster, and BC chlorite. He works both on a large and small scale to produce works that weigh over 100lbs to miniatures as small as a nickel.

In February of 2014, Koomuatuk Curley collaborated with Bill Nasogaluak for the gift of an Inukshuk from the people of Canada to the people of India. The Inukshuk, which is 2.5 metres high and 1.5 metres wide, is made up of eight massive stones from Kingston, Ontario. The orientation of the arms is to the northwest, towards Canada.

While working as the Community Outreach Coordinator for the grant Mobilizing Inuit Cultural Heritage, Koomuatuk Curley has also begun a series of video interviews with artists from across Nunavut. He will be presenting his 20minute video interview of his great uncle, Kiawak Ashoona, at the Great Northern Arts Festival this July.

Anna Hudson
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Anna Hudson is an art historian, curator, writer and educator specializing in Canadian art and visual culture. Formerly associate curator of Canadian Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Hudson is currently leading a major Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Partnership Grant project titled “Mobilizing Inuit Cultural Heritage: a multi-media/multi-platform re-engagement of voice in visual art and performance.” The goal of the project is to conduct collaborative research on the contribution of Inuit visual culture, art and performance to Inuit language preservation, social well-being and cultural identity. The project builds on “Breaking the Boundaries of Inuit Art: New Contexts for Cultural Influence,” a previous SSHRC supported project.

Professor Hudson continues to pursue research in the area of her doctoral dissertation, Art and Social Progress: the Toronto community of Painters (1933-1950). Her most recent publications include “Jock Macdonald’s weave of reality” (2014), “Time and Image: Picturing Consciousness in Modern Canadian Painting” (2013), “Stepping into the Light of Clark McDougall’s Landscapes” (2011) and “Landscape Atomysticism: A Revelation of Tom Thomson” (2011).

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Formerly the Ontario Crafts Council, Craft Ontario is a not-for-profit service organization that works to have craft recognized as a valuable part of life. We promote and celebrate professional craft through providing member opportunities, and advocate for craft practice by educating and empowering diverse audiences.