The Inuit Carvers

CSC created a carving program for Inuit offenders, which started at Beaver Creek Institution.


The Inuit Carvers

Beaver Creek Institutio
Gravenhurst, Ontario

Noah Noah: The carving program is a fantastic one and I tell the guys all the time when they come in, even if you don't know how to carve, you can learn how to carve when you are here. So you can have that once you go back home.

Lisa Allgaier: And there's a sense of connection to the land and their own sense of spiritual self when they do the carving.

Nancy Kinsmen: The men come together and they share culture,they share stories. The work they create is true art.

Lisa Allgaier: One of the first things we did along with bringing in some Inuktitut speaking elders, was to create a carving program, which started initially at Beaver Creek.

Noah Noah: We've had some world class carvers come through here. Some unbelievably, unbelievably talented carvers.

Nancy Kinsmen: You can watch them sharing their techniques, sharing their skills, and then there will be silence, and then they'll talk about a story about when their grandfather, or their father or their uncle took them hunting. And their carvings take on the life that is their culture.

Qavava: I am making a rabbit over here. We have rabbit up there, polar bear, walrus, Arctic char, seals. I started carving when I was about 12 or 13 years old. I had a three year sentence so they sent me here from Nunavut. Sometimes I teach the other guys how to do the carvings, and I am making money out of it. So I would have money when I go back home.

Lisa Allgaier: It also in some ways provides an economy for some of them. If they are able to sell some of those pieces, contribute back to their families and communities.

Noah Noah: They are sold on consignment to a gallery. So the men get a portion of what the carving would be worth.

Lisa Allgaier: We wanted to facilitate an opportunity that was very inuit specific, in a way that they could continue to be connected to their culture. And they do it together, which is also very important. They form a community within our institutions so that they can feel that connection even though they are so far away from home.

Qavava: To have an Inuit, all nothing but Inuit in here in the carving program, is why I like it. We talk to each other in our own dialect.

Noah Noah: I think it is great that CSC is recognizing that one of the most identifiable Canadians -Inuit- do have some say in how their programming and healing goes in the institutions.