Olympic inukshuk irks Inuit leader

Not everyone is thrilled with the Vancouver 2010 Olympic committee's choice of an inukshuk for its logo.

The emblem, unveiled Saturday, was chosen to symbolize friendship, hospitality and teamwork. It's a colourful, stylized inukshuk, or Inuit rock marker, with legs, arms, a head, and smiling mouth. It's been called Ilanaaq, which means "friendship" in Inuktitut.

Nunavut Premier Paul Okalik and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami president Jose Kusugak were in attendance at the unveiling. Okalik told a Vancouver newspaper he likes the design, and is touched it will be used for such a high-profile event.

But former Nunavut Commissioner Peter Irniq does not agree.

Irniq has built inukshuks in Nunavut, in Canada and in the United States.

He says every inukshuk has a meaning and a reason why it was built in a certain location. He says building the structures should not be taken lightly.

"Inuit never build inuksuit with head, legs and arms," he says. "I have seen inuksuit build more recently, 100 years maybe by non-Inuit in Nunavut. with head, legs and arms.

"These are not called inuksuit. These are called inunguat, imitation of man, imitation of a person."

Irniq says the Olympic Committee should have consulted with the elders of Nunavut before they went ahead and chose the design.