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Artists celebrate Pangnirtung fishery
Granite monument to welcome fishing vessels and cruise ship passengers as they disembark at small craft harbour

Daron Letts
Northern News Services
Monday, August 3, 2015

Turbot and tourism provide an income for hundreds of Pangnirtung residents and this month a team of local carvers are paying respect to both industries. The artists are creating a monumental relief sculpture that celebrates the fish and the people who earn their living from it.

Master carver Jaco Ishulutaq and eight assistants are grinding elegant textures into a granite boulder the hamlet installed on the end of the pier on the community's new small craft harbour last month.

They began their work on July 23 and are scheduled to complete the project by late September.

"They go through diamond blades almost twice as quick with granite than they do with soapstone as it is quite a bit harder," said Jason Harasimo, economic development officer with the hamlet, following a conversation with Ishulutaq facilitated by a translator.

According to Ishulutaq's current design plan, an inuksuk is to be carved into the back of the boulder, although the design is not set in stone, so to speak.

"The inuksuk shows everyone that the people of Pangnirtung are here," said Harasimo.

Of a population of around 1,700 residents, approximately 250 local fish harvesters operate about 150 fishing vessels from the community, which welcomed the completion of the new small craft harbour in September 2013.

Kakivak Association's Skills Link Program is providing funding for the wages as part of the project, which is overseen by the Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association.

The Nunavut Department of Economic Development and Transportation is providing support for the tools and Ishulutaq's instructor fees.

The project is designed to give participants on-the-job professional experience while familiarizing them with carving using hard local stone rather than soap stone, which has to be imported into the community.

Once complete, the carving will be the first thing cruise ship passengers see when they enter the harbour to visit, said Harasimo.

"It's attracting attention already," he said of the work in progress.

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