Over a two-year period, Bart Hanna spent many days creating and refining the details of his Sedna carving in his Iglulik workshop, only to find his artwork shattered on the floor one day in May.
"They demolished my masterpiece," said a disconsolate Hanna. "I'm trying to put it back, find the pieces and put it back together."
He was out with the Rangers for much of the day on May 9. Upon his return, he noticed the window of his workshop was open. Inside, the heavy stone carving depicting the mythical Inuit sea goddess – standing almost a metre tall by two-thirds of a metre wide – was lying on the floor with some of Hanna's carving tools.
"It was shocking and I didn't know what to do – cry or laugh. It was very hard," Hanna recalled, noting that the carving had been resting on a wooden pallet. "It's going to be a lot of work to put it back... my family cried. They were so hurt. It was very rude."
He said he knows a person who saw some youths fleeing the area but no identities were ascertained, so Hanna hasn't reported the vandalism to police. It's not the first time youth have done damage to his property.
"They know they shouldn't do that but when you see them, they run away," he said. "They're only kids. You can't charge them. You can't do too much with kids."
Hanna said he had a prospective buyer lined up for the carving.
Hanna imports his stone from Arctic Bay. It's similar to limestone, which is better suited for fine detail, like Sedna's flowing locks, he explained.
"One of my favourite pieces to carve is Sedna," he said.
He was only a few months from competing the artwork when the damage was done.
He's now in the painstaking process of reassembling the carving using glue and pieces of muskox horn. He's guided by some pictures that he's grateful his daughter took. After additional months of work ahead, he's fairly confident he can return Sedna to her original form and keep the signs of damage to a minimum. The buyer may still accept the carving, although at a discounted price, he said.
Artwork is Hanna's primary source of income.
"That's what I do to make a living, doing carvings and things like that, and hunting," he said.