Last week, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, the Honorable Carolyn Bennett, announced that the construction of the new Iqaluit Community Day Care is underway in Iqaluit, NU and will prominently feature commissioned works by Nunavut artists Lavinia Van Heuvelen, Looty Pijamini, Izalasie Kopalie and Barry Phillip as part of the centre’s Art Integration program.
Once completed, the $8 million-dollar Iqaluit Community Daycare by Montreal and Iqaluit-based EVOQ Architects/Panaq Design will be the largest daycare facility in Nunavut—accommodating 60 children as well as a host of integrated art works. Inspired by the city’s geography, relationship to the ocean and the community’s shared memories of clam picking in the Bay, the conceptual theme “harvesting the sea” carries through in the architecture and the two central art commissions.
In March 2018, the Art Integration Program was launched to incorporate a series of permanent works by local artists into the final design of the main entrance as well as individual classrooms in the daycare. Following a request for proposals issued by the Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association, winning artists were selected by a committee comprised of Regional Director General, Nunavut Region Office of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada David Rochette, Executive Director of the Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association Janet Brewster, Director of Programming of the Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association Kathleen Nicholls and EVOQ Architects Founding Partner Alain Fournier, among others.
“The intent of the Art Integration program was to do a competition between artists to submit work that would be integrated as part of the building to truly reflect the value and spirit of the community,” explains Rochette. “The intent is to have the new daycare reflective of, as well as to look like, the society and community that will use it. It will be inspiring for the kids to be surrounded by works by these artists.”
The main entrance of the new building will feature a mural of a ring seal by Izalasie Kopalie atop a sea bed mural by Barry Phillip. Suspended laser cut seal silhouettes by Iqaluit-based Lavinia Van Heuvelen will be mounted on the ceiling beyond Kopalie and Phillip’s murals, appearing to swim around the main staircase.
Kopalie’s two-dimensional images of marine creatures–from walruses and ringed seals to arctic char–will be integrated into the resilient flooring and turn the daycare’s hallways and cubbies into an active oceanic environment, echoing the silhouettes of five marine animals on the millwork in each classroom. Ausuittuq (Grise Fjord)-based Looty Pijamini’s narwhal silhouette will join Van Heuvelen’s Arctic char, eider duck and bowhead whale silhouettes and Kopalie’s polar bear profile across the surfaces of custom cabinetry.
Speaking on the importance of integrating art within the new centre, Minister Bennett told the CBC, “the criteria is that [the daycare] reflects the local community—that means that Inuit children will be exposed to Inuit language and culture.”
The daycare is scheduled to be completed by 2019.