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Teacher's Centre

Inuit History, Art and Other Traditions of the Inuit

Learn about the traditions of the Inuit people of Canada's north.

Discover the Inuit, and learn about Inuit history, as well as art and other important Inuit traditions at the Virtual Museum of Canada. Fascinating museum exhibits and an assortment of images await you at the VMC!

Inuit History
The Inuit way of life is deeply rooted in tradition. Learn about Inuit history by visiting a number of links on the VMC. The Image Gallery contains an assortment of paintings, images, and portraits that recount Inuit history, such as the roles that traditions like hunting, trapping, fishing, and transportation play for the Inuit. Explore the exhibit Ilititaa...Bernier, His Men and the Inuit and learn about the migration to the North and important lessons about Inuit history. Find other interesting links that explore Inuit history and culture such as Inuit 3D, and many more on the VMC.

Inuit Traditions
Log onto the VMC and discover information relating to the important traditions practiced by the Inuit. The VMC houses an extensive Image Gallery where you'll find images of tools used by the Inuit for hunting and trapping. View pictures of hunting knives, seal borers, and much more in the Image Gallery. Visit the VMC Exhibits section and explore the lives and traditions of the Inuit. Click on Explore Herschel Island!, and discover the history and folklore behind the whaling practice and what life is like on a polar island, or on Our World - Our Way of Life, and explore Inuit culture and traditions. A variety of Indigenous Games and traditional of sporting events await you, in the VMC's Fun & Games section.

Inuit Art
The Virtual Museum of Canada also has a variety of images and museum exhibits that showcase Inuit art. Search the Image Gallery and find over a thousand images of Inuit artwork, including stone and ivory figurine carvings, as well as prints and other works of Inuit art. The VMC also houses a collection of exhibits that feature Inuit art, such as Holman: Forty Years of Graphic Art, and many other exhibits provided by museums across Canada.

Games

Part of the Virtual Museum of CanadaLiving Traditions: Museums Honour the North American Indigenous Games
Learn about the traditional games of the Inuit in Canada's north in this site about indigenous games. This site also has a Teachers' Corner, with suggestions for using the material in your classroom.

Inuit Games
Several Inuit games are detailed, using photographs and texts, provided by the Museum and Archive of Games of the University of Waterloo.

The Land

Part of the Virtual Museum of CanadaExplore Herschel Island
Learn about the way of life on this Arctic island. Students can test their knowledge with a quiz.

The Inuvialuit of Western Arctic From Ancient Times to 1902
The Inuit people of the western arctic call themselves "The Inuvialuit". This exhibit describes their traditions, the people, their territory and villages, and their way of life.

Artifacts and art

Part of the Virtual Museum of CanadaBone Snow Knives and Tin Oil Lamps
The Canadian Museum of the Civilization and the Royal Ontario Museum explore a collection of traditional objects of Canada's First Peoples. Choose 'Geopolitical Divisions' to view the objects from Inuit cultures.

Iqqaipaa : Celebrating Inuit Art 1948-1970
'Iqqaipaa' features art objects from the period in which the Inuit slowly abandoned their centuries-old nomadic lifestyle and moved into small settlements. The art reflects the culture they were leaving behind - Iqqaipaa means 'I remember' - with artifacts made out of indigenous materials such as whalebone, ivory, antler, and soapstone.

Where something Stands: Inuit prints inspired by Legend
Explore a number of Inuit prints and read the legends that inspired the artists. (available in English only)

Clothing

Threads of the Land
'Threads of the Land' examines the ways in which the clothing of three Canadian Aboriginal peoples (Dene, Copper and Caribou Inuit, and NLaka'pamux) identified individuals and their cultures. Traditional clothing, children's clothing, dance clothing, and contemporary clothing are showcased.

Watercraft

Wave Eaters - Native Watercraft in Canada
The watercraft created by Canada's aboriginal peoples are respected and admired throughout the world for their performance and exquisiteness. Learn about the kayaks traditionally used by the Inuit for hunting.

Exploration and Encounters

Part of the Virtual Museum of CanadaIlititaa...Bernier, his men and the Inuit
The story of Bernier, his men and the Inuit of the Canadian Arctic, travels by Captain Bernier and his men, depicting the meeting of the Inuit and French.

Part of the Virtual Museum of CanadaThe Bishop who ate his Boots
The history of Anglican Church Missions in Canada's North. This site explores the interaction between the First Nations people of the western Arctic and the commercial whalers and missionaries who traveled there. An Educational section includes lesson plans and an interactive quiz based on the northern lifestyle.

The Inuit and Englishmen: The Nunavut voyages of Martin Frobisher
Accounts of the sixteenth century voyages of Frobisher, his encounters with the Inuit people, and the attempts of the English to establish settlements in the Canadian North.

We also recommend:

North: Landscape of the Imagination
This exhibit from the National Library of Canada, divided into four historic periods, celebrates more than 2000 years of Inuit Art.

Material covered in the resources can be used in the classroom to enhance students' understanding of the culture and traditions of the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada. In particular, the material will assist in achieving these learning outcomes:

  • Understanding that people express their way of life through their particular culture;
  • Demonstrate awareness and appreciation of various Aboriginal cultures in Canada;
  • Demonstrate understanding of contributions of Aboriginal people to Canadian society;
  • Describe traditional technology used by Aboriginal people in Canada;
  • Demonstrate understanding of Aboriginal people's relationship with the land and natural resources;
  • Describe the role of Canada's First Nations peoples in shaping Canadian identity.