National Treasure #10: Inuksuk-Inunnguaq

Woohoo! Double digits! We’ll be here a while.

On the Nunavut flag, the inuksuk (also spelled inukshuk; plural, inuksuit) speaks of Canada’s North, but, as often happens, our common perception of it misses the mark a tad, at least according to the Canadian Encyclopedia:

The Inuit also construct a stone figure called an inunnguaq, which means “in the likeness of a human.” This familiar stone figure with head, body, legs and arms is often mistakenly referred to as an inuksuk. Its purpose is more symbolic than functional. Because of its humanoid appearance in the likeness of a little person, its image has become a popular cross-cultural symbol.

Since the Inuit Online Cultural Resource agrees, I’m guessing this is accurate, although it might be a “rectangle/square” distinction, if you see what I mean.

Here are three inuksuit or inunnguaqs that I have in my own photo collection. Whatever we call it, it helps to identify us.

Inukshuk/inunnguaq in Quebec City

Quebec City, QC


Inukshuk or inunnguaq at Echo Bay, ON

Echo Bay, ON


Inukshuk or inunnguaq in garden in Ottawa, ON

Ottawa, ON


This is one of a series on Canadian national treasures – my sesquicentennial project. They reflect people (living and dead), places and things that I think are worth celebrating about our country, and are done in no order of precedence.

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2 Responses to National Treasure #10: Inuksuk-Inunnguaq

  1. Jim Robertson says:

    Well chosen!
    (Does an ookpik semi-qualify too? ☺☺)

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