Handcarved Inuksuit added to merchandise

jeff hodson/metro vancouver


Inuit artist and performer Mathew Nuqingaq carves a soapstone inukshuk at VANOC headquarters in Vancouver yesterday.

Ilanaaq — the inukshuk logo of Vancouver 2010 — is going to get a lot more friends as 1,200 Nunavut artists hand-carve thousands of soapstone inuksuit that will be sold as official merchandise before and during the Olympic Games, organizers announced yesterday.

The inuksuit will be carved in 11 styles representing various Arctic communities. They will be available in June in two different sizes and will sell for $65 and $200.

"In Nunavut we have no maple leaves," said Nunavut Premier Paul Okalik in Vancouver yesterday. "Iconic Canadian images are often foreign to us. Ilanaaq changed all that."

The Nunavut carvers are the first aboriginal artists from outside B.C. to join the 2010 Aboriginal Licensing and Merchandising Program.

The program is part of an agreement signed last week between VANOC and the Four Host First Nations. It is being called the first of its kind in Olympic history. Under the agreement, one-third of VANOC’s royalties will be diverted into a fund to cultivate sport among aboriginal youth.

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