The Winnipeg Art Gallery’s Inuit Art Centre received a new title on October 28: Qaumajuq, pronounced “HOW-ma-yourq,” which means, “it is bright, it is lit.” The Qaumajuq building, which opens February 2021, will be 40,000-square-feet and connect to the Winnipeg Art Gallery on all four levels.
In a press release, the Winnipeg Art Gallery called the initiative “an important step on the WAG’s Indigenization journey.” The new name is paired with an announcement that, starting February 2021 with the building’s opening, the Qaumajuq building will offer free admission to Indigenous peoples.
Filled with Inuit-led programming and art pieces, Qaumajuq is set to become Winnipeg’s newest darling. It will also have a “Visible Vault" showcasing thousands of carvings, which the public will be able donate to or adopt a shelf from.
The name "Qaumajuq" comes from a group of language keepers and Elders who met in a virtual gathering, led by the Winnipeg Art Gallery Indigenous Advisory Circle. Those involved represented all four regions of Inuit Nunangat. Also, Anishinaabemowin, Nêhiyawêwin, Dakota, and Michif speakers were present as well to honour the building’s location on Treaty 1 territory.
Qaumajuq isn’t the only name that been recently bestowed. The Winnipeg Art Gallery also received another, Anishinaabemowin name: Biindigin Biwaasaeyaah, pronounced “BEEN-deh-gen Bi-WAH-say-yah.” The name means, “come on in, the dawn of light is here” or "the dawn of light is coming." While the gallery will still be known as the Winnipeg Art Gallery, the Anishinaabemowin name signifies “the fundamental change that the WAG is undertaking,” according to the gallery’s press release.
“We are so honoured to gift the institution with these new names that point to a new a path forward for galleries and museums in this country,” Dr. Heather Igloliorte and Dr. Julie Nagam, co-chairs of the Indigenous Advisory Circle, said in the release.