Friday, October 13, 2006

Symbol of Friendship

Going backwards (I see) through our recent trip to Vancouver Island-Vancouver-LA, I want to stop in Vancouver again, where Expat Traveler so graciously tour-guided us (see photo album). This time, I want to highlight the Inukshuk (pronounced Ee-NOOK-shook).

This Inuit word means "in the image/shape of man." I've also seen "thing that can act in the place of a human." It is among the most important objects created by the Inuit, who were the first people to inhabit portions of Alaska, Arctic Canada and Greenland. They built them:

* As hunting and navigational aids
* As message centers
* To show where food was stored
* To mark entrance to spiritual landscape
* To act as helpers in hunting caribou

When we were on Vancouver Island (before touring Vancouver, the city), we bought a small Inukshuk as a remembrance of our visit. The Northwest Coast is so heavily influenced by the First Nations people, and the Inuit have always been a favorite of mine. We also bought an Inukshuk trivet for Judy and Dave as a keepsake for our budding friendship.

But it wasn't till our time with ET in Vancouver that we realized the deeper significance of our purchases. "These beacons of the North have now been adapted as symbols of friendship, reminding us that today as in yesteryear, we all depend on one another" (from the gift tag). It's a symbol for the whole world!

I first heard about the Inukshuk on Christina's blog last December and read there that it had been chosen as the symbol for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. But I had totally forgotten about that until we saw the merchandise already being sold in stores.

Since the Inukshuk is "the image of man," see how easily it will fit whatever winter sport being played. I love the creativity!

This is so incredibly soulful to me--all of it. The shape, the translation, the history, the significance. It makes me realize that our foreparents had something our technology so often lacks: Hope and Friendship. It's a gift we should give more often, yes?!


  1. I'm so fascinated by them too! I'm almost sure I'll end up buying one! And the photos are so incredible! So well composed.

  2. What a cool post!! I love inukshuk.

    The first two photos are simply breathtaking. The folds of the mountains, the morning/evening light (?), the inukshuk. Wow.

  3. Don't we LOVE Inukshuks? And Vancouver is such a nice place. Even if sometimes, we hear about some people tripping and falling... Hhehehe! Looking at your pics, I realize we have NOT seen the same things at all! That is cool! I could not find a sweather of the olympics but will definitively try to find one here in Quebec City. They are soooo nice!

  4. ET: If you do get one, please take a pic of it for me to see. They're all so different and creative!

    Ruth: That would be the late afternoon light and thank you ever so much. That spot was a highlight of the entire day for me.

    MP: Speaking of tripping and falling, I have been thinking a lot about you lately and want to know how you're doing! I assume the Olympics merchandise will be all over Canada, so hopefully you'll find what you're looking for.

  5. Yes! We should follow your example and give it more often. :-)

    Your pictures are wonderful. I hadn't realized they had been so creative with the inukshuk - we weren't really looking for it when we were there or maybe the merchandising wasn't in full swing yet. I think they chose the perfect symbol for the Olympics.

    Can't wait for the Vancouver Island pics because I know what to expect!

  6. I really liked that first picture. Great view! And your commentary on the inukshuk was excellent and I learned a lot. Thanks.

  7. Oh yes! I think the sweaters are for sale at The Bay (here La Baie). I will go check there first! And I'm doing fine! I have gone back to work. It's not easy because I can't sit, but I have realized that when I walk a lot, it activates the circulation in my leg and it's good for it. The pain is still there, but I can manage that easily. And I KNOW I have not talked about my trip yet. I am the queen of procrastination. And I work a lot so when I'm at home, I often don't feel like going on the net... Hhehehe. But I will show them, I promise! :)

  8. When I read the first lines of this post, I knew this meant so much to you. I got goose bumps when I read it. I guess I feel a link to it.

    The Inukshuk are not only great artists, but have what I call healthy values of life and friendship. They were dependent on each other to survive and maintain a social life. They cherish their surroundings like probably none of us could. That also goes for the many other tribes in North America. We have so much to learn from them.

    So, I'm off to see your photo album!

  9. Christina: I absolutely agree that it's the best symbol ever! The Island pics are soon to come :)

    Tim: Thanks a lot.

    MP: So glad you've made it back to work but I wonder how long the healing process will take?! When you get to your trip, you'll have a fan club, of course!

    CS: I totally agree with your assessment of these incredible people!

  10. I absolutely love the Olympics. I attended the Athens games and will be attending the Beijing ones also (if I can get tickets).

  11. Me, too, J. It's such a great place for the world to come together and extend a hand of friendship!

  12. I am curious, of course, about the First Nations. At their website it reads, "First Nations Development Institute is working to restore Native control and culturally-compatible stewardship of the assets they own - be they land, human potential, cultural heritage, or natural resources - and to establish new assets for ensuring the long-term vitality of Native communities." I know many Native Americans who share this vision; however, here in Arizona, the reservations are run down and there is little evidence of culturally-compatible stewardship occurring. Fetal alcohol syndrome is a common occurrence. This vision quest of the First Nations is so refreshing. Are they manifesting it as a whole in Canada?

    I share this vision as well. I want to enjoy the land, human potential, cultural heritage, and natural resources. At some point in history, all were a part of a First Nation, but now, few identify with the beginnings.

  13. I share your curiosity, Rachel! If we don't get back to respecting Mother Earth and restoring our land, I'm afraid we'll lose her/it. Mothers are survivors, tho', so I am confidant she will fight with and for us to save her.

    I always enjoy your comments! So wise and thought-provoking.