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Inukshuks at the Olympics

January 31, 2010

If you’re in Vancouver you’ll notice the Inukshuk symbol that was chosen from thousands of entries to represent the Olympics in British Columbia.   This design was created by one our friends, Elena Rivera MacGregor, who is a participant in a class that Susan and I have been taking.   Elena is, we believe, pretty much one of the faster thinkers we’ve ever met and it’s a gift to have her with us.  

Inukshuks are one of the oldest forms of art in the world, and are situated throughout the Arctic and into Greenland – they served many purposes, to direct hunters, to mark food caches and also as a kind of spiritual and tribal marker.   One of the things we like about them is the idea that some authors talk about, that an Inukshuk was made to simply break the loneliness of the isolation of what seemed to be an endless landscape of ice and snow, and that travellers would build Inukshuks at intervals so that, no matter where they were going, they would feel they were seeing a friend on the horizon.  

Did you know that the Olympics organizers have tried to ensure the participation of folks with disabilities in all kinds of roles.   I ran into a friend the other day who was just coming from his orientation, with all kinds of great shirts and a blue Olympics coat.   He was very proud to participate.   You can find out more at the 2010 Legacies Now site. 

From Wikipedia:

The word inuksuk means “something which acts for or performs the function of a person.” The word comes from the morphemes inuk (“person”) and -suk (“ersatz” or “substitute”). It is pronounced inutsuk in Nunavik and the southern part of Baffin Island (see Inuit phonology for the linguistic reasons). In many of the central Nunavut dialects, it has the etymologically related name inuksugaq (plural: inuksugait).

Despite the predominant English spelling as inukshuk, both the Government of Nunavut [9] and the Government of Canada through Indian and Northern Affairs Canada [10] are promoting the Inuit preferred spelling inuksuk.

A structure similar to an inuksuk but meant to represent a human figure, called an inunnguaq (ᐃᓄᙳᐊᖅ, “imitation of a person”, plural inunnguat), has become widely familiar to non-Inuit. However, it is not the most common type of inuksuk and is distinguished from inuksuit in general.

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