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Culture Days Spotlight: Blandina Makkik

15 Sep

Founded in 2009, Culture Days is a non-profit organization dedicated to building a national network of cultural connections devoted to providing Canadians with opportunities to participate in, and appreciate, all forms of arts and culture. MIA joins this collaborative initiative with our 3rd annual Inuit Art Identification Clinic. Members of the public are invited to bring in a piece of Inuit art from their personal collection to have it verbally appraised by a panel of experts. 

MIA is pleased to welcome back the wonderful Blandina Makkik for her second year on our all-star panel of Inuit art specialists.  Blandina is an excellent addition to the panel with her keen eye for spotting signatures and her intimate knowledge of Inuktitut.  You won’t want to miss the opportunity to have such an experienced professional examine your own precious artworks!

Blandina MakkikBlandina Makkik was born and raised in Igloolik on the northwestern coast off Baffin Island, Nunavut. Previous to joining the team at the Craft Ontario Shop, she served as a Land Claims Implementation Advisor for the Government of Nunavut. She has also worked as an Advisor for the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade where she traveled extensively throughout the Circumpolar world.

From 1985 to 1991, Blandina was the Senior Producer for Inuit Broadcasting and developed the first children’s television programming available in Inuktitut. The program, Takuginai (Look and Learn) won numerous awards internationally. Blandina joined Craft Ontario in 2005.

She has her International Baccalaureate from Lester B. Pearson College of The Pacific and has also attended Trent University, McGill University and St. Francis Xavier University.


Culture Days Spotlight: Christa Ouimet

9 Sep

Founded in 2009, Culture Days is a non-profit organization dedicated to building a national network of cultural connections devoted to providing Canadians with opportunities to participate in, and appreciate, all forms of arts and culture. MIA joins this collaborative initiative with our 3rd annual Inuit Art Identification Clinic. Members of the public are invited to bring in a piece of Inuit art from their personal collection to have it verbally appraised by a panel of experts. 

This year we are pleased to have Christa Ouimet return to our all-star panel of Inuit art specialists. Christa has been a panelist every year since our inaugural event in 2013.  Christa is an integral part of Katilivik  –  an indispensable resource for staff at MIA.  Check it out next time you are looking to identify an artist – you can search by name, community, disc number, or even syllabics!


Christa Ouimet - updated photo

Christa’s Biography

As Managing Director of Waddington’s Inuit art Department and Fine Art Specialist, Christa’s extensive knowledge and experience has earned her reputation as one of the world’s leading experts in Inuit Art.  Her 15 years in the Canadian art auction industry has culminated in the handling of over $2 million of Inuit art a year.  In addition to auction sales and appraisal consultation, Christa provides an educational service through a free web based platform including identifying artists, dating sculptures, evaluating and providing biographical information.  2003 saw Christa’s first major contribution to Waddington’s when she added a spring auction in addition to the annual fall auction of Inuit Art, at the same time she was able to pursue her desire to promote Inuit works on paper as the sole focus of her inaugural spring catalogue.  Waddington’s spring Inuit Art auction continues to be an anticipated event and a fixture in the Waddington’s auction calendar.  In 2007 Christa spearheaded Waddington’s online auctions offering an additional selection of Inuit art every month.  Online auctions are now a successful addition to all of Waddington’s specialties.  Christa has developed partnerships for promotional events in correspondence with Waddington’s biannual Inuit art auctions with esteemed organizations such as, Adventure Canada, McMichael Canadian Art Collection and BirdLife International.  Christa enjoys being a regular panelist in the Museum of Inuit art’s (MIA) annual appraisal clinic.

Planet IndigenUS at MIA

28 Jul

Planet-IndigenUS-posterAfter a blur of summer events at the museum, and the extravaganza that was the Pan Am games, it’s hard to believe that August is already on its way.

Over the last two months I’ve been lucky enough to participate in outreach events at the Toronto Public Library, Party on the Promenade and most recently, the Aboriginal Pavilion at Fort York; and yet, we still have more events planned for the rest of the summer at MIA!

Planet IndigenUS is a 10-day festival promoting aboriginal arts and culture, and MIA will be celebrating alongside (literally – their building is next door) the Harbourfront Centre! From July 31 to August 9, events will take place at locations such as museums, libraries and art centres both in and around the GTA. As part of Planet IndigenUS the museum will be offering three types of programming focusing on the theme of “Seven Generations” – how the actions we make in the present affect future generations.

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better: both tour options are free with admission!

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better: both tour options are free with admission!

Guided Tours
Join me and other docents from the MIA Volunteer Team  for a guided tour of the museum’s permanent collection. Between August 4th and 9th we arehosting two tours a day, one beginning at at 11 AM and the second starting at 1PM. We love showing visitors around and sharing the stories behind some of our most popular pieces.

Self Guided Tours
Alternatively, if you prefer wandering at your own pace, we’ll also be offering a special self-guided tour for the duration of Planet IndigenUS. Simply follow the Planet IndigenUS feather icon found in our display cases to learn more about the pieces we have on view.

Throat Singing with Sylvia Cloutier
But that’s not all we’re doing for Planet IndigenUS this summer. If you’ve never had the chance to check out Inuit throat singing before, now’s your chance! MIA is thrilled to be hosting Sylvia Cloutier, a well-known Inuk throat singer from the Nunavik region, on August 8th at 6PM. Sylvia’s live performance will take place in the museum and will be followed by a Q&A session where guests can find out more about Sylvia and her work. Tickets can be purchased online, in person at the museum, or by calling (416) 640-1571.

I feel so fortunate to be involved in so many different events promoting aboriginal art and culture, and I’m excited for these upcoming activities. Planet IndigenUS is another great opportunity to celebrate the diversity and unique talent of aboriginal artists.

Planet IndigenUS is sure to be an amazing 10 days – come celebrate with us!


– Posted by Serena Y., MIA’s Community Engagement Officer

Worldwide Knit in Public Day!

5 Jun

IMG_3376   MIA front lobby podium covered in crochet hexagons to celebration of Worldwide Knit in Public Day.

June is a pretty big month here at MIA. This coming Saturday we will officially be reopening our doors to welcome in brand new exhibitions featuring even more examples of art styles, materials, and themes. We’ll also be celebrating National Aboriginal History Month with fun games and prizes AND we’ve just launched another community based project with local Toronto knitting groups (including the Bissell Bombers) as part of  World Wide Knit in Public Day!

For those unfamiliar with WWKiP Day, it all began back in 2005 when Danielle Landes gathered together a group of knitters. Rather than perform this traditionally solitary practice alone, they created an opportunity to spend some time together and really get to know their neighbors. That desire for human interaction and creative outlet inspired others to join and over the following years a simple day of knitting has turned into a global public art movement.

This Saturday and Sunday, MIA will be hosting knit inspired programming in our newly renovated space. From 12-4 visitors can join our Arts Assistants who will be giving demonstrations on the several different methods of pom pom making and how to create a bracelet with needle-less knitting techniques.

Special community exhibition case be prepared for visitor contributions as a part of Worldwide Knit in Public Day celebrations.

All of these yarn creations can be tokens of a fun day spent knitting out in public, or you can have them displayed in our special exhibition area. For the entire month of June, MIA has dedicated a public curated space to showcase the unique talent within the community. Those who wish to participate by bringing supplies and taking part of our Knit in Public activities receive FREE admission.

Hope to see all you crafters this weekend!

– Posted by: Brittany Holliss, MIA’s Visitor Services Officer

Updates from Week 2

10 May

The second week of internship has just flown by. I’m already at the halfway point and thus far, my experience at the MIA has been really positive and fulfilling. All the research time I’ve put in has rewarded me with great ideas for teacher resources (some of which I hope to use myself in the future!).

While I haven’t had as much time to delve into hands-on activities at the museum, I’m looking forward to the opportunity to do so this Saturday, May 11th, as part of MAP Family Saturdays at Toronto Public Libraries (TPL)! MAP (Museum + Arts Pass)  allows families (2 adults and up to 5 children)  to explore many of Toronto’s best cultural and artistic sites for free! You can request a pass for you and your family at any TPL branch.

MAP Family Saturdays at TPL

This Saturday, however, I’m bringing the museum experience directly to Downsview Public Library (2793 Keele St. at Wilson Ave.) for kids’  hands-on activities They’ll have a chance to see and touch some museum artifacts, play a few traditional Inuit games, and make their own clay sculpture. It should be a great time for kids, parents, and art lovers alike, so if you’re in the neighbourhood, come on by!

– Posted by: Aviva German, MIA’s Educational Intern

Explore the Realities of Living in the Modern Arctic this March Break at MIA

3 Mar
Inuit community of Pangnirtung

Inuit community of Pangnirtung

This March Break the Museum of Inuit Art is exploring the realities of living in the modern Canadian Arctic through four interactive stations (one to represent each Inuit land claim area in Canada) located throughout the museum.

Every family will be issued a passport to explore the Museum of Inuit Art in new, multi-sensory ways while challenging perceptions of the Arctic.

Activities to enjoy:

  • Get hands on with our teaching collection at our feel-box station. Learn about properties of the materials being used by Inuit artists and how this impacts the art being produced in the Arctic today.
  • Can you dance like a polar bear or run like a muskox? Show us your moves while learning animal names in Inuktitut in the Museum of Inuit Art’s version of ‘Simon Says’.
  • Learn about the differences in food costs and diets in the Arctic and Southern Canada at the MIA land claim grocery store.
  • What makes your neighbourhood unique? Make comparisons between your community and those in the Arctic. Through exploration of prints and postcards, learn about population size, temperature, and infrastructure available in Inuit communities.

As you complete the activities, be sure to get your passport stamped! If you have your passport stamped at all four interactive stations, you are eligible for a $5 discount on a family membership. Your name will also be entered into a raffle to win a $50 gift certificate from Loblaws-Queens Quay!

DATES: March 9 to March 17
TIME: 12 PM to 4 PM
PRICE: Free with Museum Admission (Adults $5, Students/Seniors $3, Children 12 and under FREE)

We are still looking for volunteers for this event. If you are interested in lending a helping hand, please email

Lindsay Bontoft, MIA’s Public Programming and Development Coordinator

Family Stories Through Wallhangings

10 Feb

A little girl learns how to sew with plastic needles and a foam board.

As a public institution, we are always looking for new ways to really engage with our community and get to know our visitors. We publish Playing Favourites blogs where visitors explain what attracted them to certain works of art, we live Tweet during speaker events and artist demonstrations, we’ve also recorded video interviews so artists can personally interpret their own work and give a first hand account of experiences and motivations.

And while we think we have done a pretty solid job in terms of writing and speaking, this upcoming Family Day is going to emphasize telling a narrative through hand crafted imagery.

Beginning Feb 16th-18th MIA is pleased to host a series of family programming revolving around the exhibit Stories From my Grandmother: Irene Avaalaaqiaq, in order for families to tell their stories through wall hangings.

Facilitated by our fantastic group of Arts Assistants, as part of museum admission visitors will be able to construct wall hangings that represent a favourite trip, fond childhood memory or any other story they feel represents an important family memory. Plastic sewing needles and yarn help make the experience fun and safe for the younger family members and everyone can take the hangings home to proudly share with friends.

To inspire budding artists, we’ll be displaying a few of the wall hangings we have in our collection and complimentary admission lets visitors explore the museum to find our textile exhibition featuring more works by Irene Avaalaaqiaq.

We’re also going to be creating a larger, collaborative textile-based wall hanging that encompasses community involvement and revolves around the theme of community and how family connects us. Individuals can contribute a piece to this wall hanging by cutting out a design from available fabric provided by King Textiles. Staff and volunteers will embroider the pieces onto the wall hanging so you don’t have to worry about threading tiny needles or poking your fingers. (If you’d like to volunteer, be sure to check out our past blog).

This collaborative piece will be on display in the museum throughout Heritage Week (Feb 19-24) and for those who don’t see themselves as  the sewing sort, they’ll be able to write their own comments and reactions next to the piece on our paper covered walls.

So put your thinking caps on, grab some family members and start reminiscing about those good ol’ times! We’ll see you for Family Day fun!

– Posted by Brittany Holliss, MIA’s Visitor Services Officer


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