The travelling exhibit Breathe: Creating Resilience Through Traditional Art is being presented at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre.

The display features 45 hand-crafted masks by artists from around Canada, with each mask sharing its maker’s unique story.

Having launched on Tuesday, the exhibit will be on display until April 2022. It can be viewed Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the heritage centre.

“It is really exciting to host this exhibit,” said Dr. Sarah Carr-Locke, the facility’s director.

The exhibit, which initially started virtually, was created by two Métis artists: Nathalie Bertin and Lisa Shepherd. It has been making its way around Canada, eventually finding Yellowknife as a landing spot.

“We’re really honoured to be a stop on the tour,” said Carr-Locke.

The masks were crafted through means such as beadwork, embroidery, birch bark etching, quill work, and quilting, among others.

Two NWT artists factor into the exhibit: Eliza Firth of Inuvik and Taalrumiq/Christina King, originally of Tuktoyaktuk.

According to Carr-Locke, this exhibit likely wouldn’t have been possible without assistance from the GNWT’s departments of Health and Social Services (HSS) as well as Education, Culture and Employment.

“We reached out to our colleagues at HSS, because we thought that the theme was something that they would be interested in,” she said. “So they contributed to help us get this here.

“They’re going to be leading some — and partnering with us on some — different programming while the masks are here,” said Carr-Locke. “So in the next six months, there will probably be some events and programs that people can come and do.”

She hopes visitors will “really look at all the detail” of the pieces.

“There’s such beautiful detail in a lot of these designs,” Carr-Locke said.

As with other locations in the NWT, safety measures and guidelines are in place to comply with Covid-19 public health orders.

All visitors over the age of two must wear a mask and visitors over the age of 12 must show proof of vaccination. Physical distancing is encouraged and visitors should follow all directional and space maximum signage.

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