Young Inuit artists unveil Harbourfront mural inspired by environmental stewardship

A group of young Inuit artists from the remote northern community of Cape Dorset, Nunavut, left their mark in Toronto for a second time with a brand-new mural titled 'Avatittinnik Kamatsiarniq.'

'Avatittinnik Kamatsiarniq' mural in Coronation Park was created by Embassy of Imagination from Nunavut

'Avatittinnik Kamatsiarniq,' a mural created by six Inuit youth from Embassy of Imagination, a northern organization run by artists Alexa Hatanaka, far right, and Patrick Thompson, far left, was unveiled Sunday. (Saajid Motala/Embassy of Imagination)

A group of young Inuit artists from the remote northern community of Cape Dorset, Nunavut, have made their mark in Toronto for a second time with a brand-new mural titled Avatittinnik Kamatsiarniq.

Avatittinnik Kamatsiarniq is an Inuit principle of environmental stewardship and means "respect and care of the land, animals and environment" in Inuktitut. 

The Harbourfront mural located in Coronation Park was unveiled Sunday. It's a project by the Embassy of Imagination, an organization run by artists Alexa Hatanaka and Patrick Thompson who give northern youth the tools to bring their ideas to life.

"They deserve the opportunity to do these sorts of projects and have their experiences and voices heard," said Hatanaka, noting for many it's their first foray outside the territory.  

A whale by Inuit artist Taqialuk Pudlat is held by fellow artists Iqaluk Quvianaqtuliaq, left, and David Pudlat, right, before being installed on a Coronation Park building. (Embassy of Imagination)

The mural depicts a collection of animals and landscapes that feature in the north, including sea mammals, caribou, an iceberg and an igloo.

They were painted by six artists — Christine Adamie, David Pudlat, Taqialuk Pudlat, Moe Kelly, Iqaluk Quvianaqtuliaq and Cie Taqiasuk — who finished them in Cape Dorset over several months before travelling to Toronto.

The youth, who come from a Baffin Island community of about 1,200 people, say installing their artwork has been an eye-opening experience.

"It was fun going new places and trying new foods," said 13-year-old Moe Kelly. 

He painted a dancing polar bear on the side of the park building, an idea he says was inspired by his father. 

"My dad carves dancing bears a lot so I did it," said Kelly, who didn't know how to paint when he first started working on the project.   

David Pudlat, 13, painted a walrus carrying a baby walrus while dancing, an upside down fish and a snowmobile.

For 13-year-old David Pudlat installing the mural in Toronto was his first foray outside Nunavut. (Embassy of Imagination)

In 2015, another group of youth artists from Embassy of Imagination painted an 18-metre high mural on the side of a building at the corner of King Street East and Jarvis Street.