The Canadian constitution recognizes three groups of First Nations peoples: Indians, Métis and Inuit. These are three diverse peoples with distinctive histories, languages, traditional practices and spiritual beliefs. The Inuit are Indigenous peoples in Northern Canada, who live throughout most of the Canadian Artic in about 53 communities covering 1/3 of Canada’s land mass. These communities are located in Nunavut, Northwest Territories, Northern Quebec (Nunavik) and Labrador (Nunatisiavut and NunatuKavut). The Inuit are of the group formerly known as “Eskimo” a name that is still used in Alaska to refer to all Inuit and Yupik people of the world. The word Inuit means “the people” in the Inuit language called Inuktitut and is how the Inuit refer to themselves.
Inukshuk (pronounced in-ook-shook) are stone figures constructed in the image of humans. The Inukshuk can be found all through the Arctic and the name itself means “in the likeness of a human”. Inukshuk are used as directional markers, helpers and guideposts to fishing or hunting grounds or to show the way to stored food. Something like the precursor to street signs. Traditional Inukshuk are can be large or small, a single rock, or several rocks which are held through balance and built big enough to been seen above the snow. The ability of constructing an Inukshuk was passed down from one generation to the next and they have evolved to be places of judgment and decision-making, worship and celebration. Inuit customs prohibit the demolition of an Inukshuk and they are often recognized as embodying a forefather who knew how to traditionally subsist on the land.
Earlier in the year SU constructed two Inukshuk (the plural is actually inuksuit); albeit in a non-traditional way given the materials available in Panama. A traditional material in Panama is concrete; lots and lots of concrete. So SU made a form got himself some concrete and some flagstone and he made an Inukshuk. And then he made another one for our Canadian neighbour.
Just as a traditional Inukshuk does, they help visitors navigate and get their bearing in this twisty, turny country of Panama with the coordinates and directional North, South, East and West stamped into the bases. We Canadians are known around the world for being friendly and many believe that it may be related to having to live in a harsh climate. The construction of an Inukshuk brings a little piece of Canada to Panama and is a pleasing sight when one is a long way from home. As with the more traditional Inukshuk it took several hands to stand up those heavy sculptures, retaining the symbolism of cooperation…in the campo.