A group of Nunavut and Toronto teens have overcome a myriad of challenges to paint a beautiful mural in Toronto. The teens, part of the collective known as Cape Dorset, have put together Piliriqatigiingniq, “an unprecedented public artwork project” on Toronto’s Church Street. But getting this beautiful project off the ground has been a long and hard endeavour, one that demonstrates the skill and hard work that’s necessary in all stages of any street art project.
The word “piliriqatigiingniq” is, according to the project’s website, is “a pillar of Inuit traditional knowledge, meaning to work together towards a common goal,” and fully displays the talents that young artists have in the lesser known areas of our country. Overall, it took two years to get the mural up, and was made to show off the Inuit art style during this year’s PanAm and Para-PanAm games, which were a resounding success for the city and the country.
At over two storeys in size, the large mural had a hard time finding an appropriate place that could speak to the sheer depth of the project, and the creators thought they had the perfect place in a building on King Street East and Jarvis Street, but the landlord pulled out at the last minute with very little explanation. The sudden change created quite the scramble for a new space, and project directors Alexa Hatanaka and Patrick Thompson started making phone calls all around the city for a new location. “We ended up having to scramble for seven days,” Thompson says, “But we found one with two days to go.” Thompson also said that despite the last minute changes, the outpouring of support was “amazing” and the project ended up in an arguably better location.
That location is a hostel only a block away at Church and Adelaide, which Thompson thinks is thematically appropriate. “It’s the perfect symbol for us,” Thompson said, “It’s a place where people come together from one place to experience a new place.” Both him and Hatanaka were hesitant to get too excited, however, after the last place fell through so quickly. But the newly donated space worked out and now Piliriqatigiingniq is completed and showing off the talent of Canada’s North.
As for the mural itself, the beautiful and brightly-coloured design comes from teen Inuit artist Parr Etidloie. “I heard some stories about my grandfather carrying a snowmobile and they told me to draw it,” the artist told CBC News, “And it worked out.” Etidloie was joined by a local Toronto artist and three of his teenage friends, Audi Qinnuayuaq, Latch Akesuk, Cie Taqiasaq, to complete the project according to his vision, and the response has been overwhelming. Pedestrians and locals congratulated the teens on their hard work, but few of them truly knew the adversity these teens faced in making their project a reality. But now, thanks to the dedication of many people, and a sizeable grant, Toronto can proudly display some art from one of the country’s most isolated areas.