What is an Inukshuk?

What is an Inukshuk?

Did you know?

About 100 Inukshuks stand at Enukso Point on Baffin Island, Nunavut. In 1969, the site was designated a national historic site of Canada.

The Nunavut flag features an Inukshuk.

In 2002, Canadian soldiers in Kandahar built an Inukshuk in memory of their fellow soldiers who died accidentally in Afghanistan.

The 2010 Vancouver Olympic logo used an Inukshuk as inspiration.

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An Inukshuk is a stone structure traditionally used by the Inuit as guides or directional markers in the North.

Varying in shape and size, the Inukshuk can mean different things — as a marker for a sacred place, an aid for hunting and fishing or a navigation tool.

For thousands of years, these land markers or "sign posts" were important for Inuit survival in a constantly-changing landscape covered in ice and snow.

Though it is often referred to as an Inukshuk, a structure with a head, legs and arms is actually called an Inunnguaq (or "Inunnguat") meaning "imitation of a person".

The symbol has become popular with non-Inuits — and the Inukshuk has been popping up all across the country.

More recently, people have been building Inunnguat — it's not an Inukshuk — it's Inunnguat which means it's a formation with a head, with arms and with legs. That is not called Inukshuk. That is called Inunnguat which means imitation of a person...or pretend person.

» Peter Irniq, Inuit cultural activist and former Nunavut commissioner

VIDEO: Peter Irniq explains the meaning of an Inukshuk. [YouTube]

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