North

Dreamt of for decades, Cape Dorset finally gets a cultural centre

A new cultural centre is coming soon to Cape Dorset, Nunavut — and for some, it's a decades-long dream come true.

'This is a remarkable milestone for Cape Dorset and I think for the North,' says art representative

The Cape Dorset Cultural Centre and Print Shop was made possible through a partnership between the municipality of Cape Dorset and the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative. Together, they raised more than their $13-million campaign goal through private and public donations by December. (Submitted by William Huffman)

A new cultural centre is coming soon to Cape Dorset, Nunavut — and for some, it's a decades-long dream come true.

The Kenojuak Cultural Centre and Print Shop — named after acclaimed local artist and Inuit art pioneer Kenojuak Ashevak who passed away in 2013 — will be a community facility, an art studio and an exhibition space to officially launch in September.

It's a project made possible through a partnership between the municipality and the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative. Together, they raised more than their $13-million campaign goal through private and public donations by December.

"In early 80s we talked about maybe planning something like a cultural centre idea, and during that time after the 80s, bad recession down south killed our plans," said Jimmy Manning with the co-operative.

Construction of the Cape Dorset Cultural Centre. Its official launch will be in September. (Submitted by William Huffman)

"Feeling proud and very, very happy to see this new building coming up," he added.

William Huffman, marketing manager for Dorset Fine Arts, said he thinks he and his team are very lucky to see the plan come to fruition after decades of dreaming.

"This is a remarkable milestone for Cape Dorset and I think for the North," he said.

'Gorgeous blue box'

The centre, according to Huffman, is beautiful.

"It is this gorgeous blue box at the top of the hill," he said. "I'm surprised. When you see this space, it looks far more expensive than $13 million dollars."

The centre will also be home to many cultural programs for youth and elders. There has already been an elders gathering at the centre which was a success, said Huffman.

The centre was named after acclaimed local artist and Inuit art pioneer, Kenojuak Ashevak who passed away in 2013. (Submitted by William Huffman)

But most importantly, it'll be a place where once hidden away pieces of local work will be displayed.

There's been a lack of space at the local co-op for drawings, carvings and artefacts, said Manning.

"These works that we would put aside will one day have a house in Cape Dorset, so I'm very pleased," he said.

The centre will have its grand opening with two "never-before-seen works of art" on exhibit, once on Sept. 5, for community members, and on Sept. 8 for dignitaries and VIPs.

With files from Lucy Burke

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