A lifetime of artwork has earned Inuk artist Germaine Arnaktauyok a 2021 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts and an associated $25,000 prize.

The Canada Council for the Arts announced eight recipients of the award on Tuesday, all chosen for their exceptional careers and their remarkable contribution to the visual and media arts and fine crafts.

“Germaine Arnaktauyok has charted her own course and created her own unique visual language, and her lifelong interest in her own unique Inuit culture has been an inspiration to many younger artists,” stated Darlene Coward Wight, curator of Inuit art at The Winnipeg Art Gallery, who nominated Arnaktauyok.

Artwork by Germaine Arnaktauyok. image courtesy of the Canada Council for the Arts

The award winners, who were selected by a committee of their peers, will receive a special-edition bronze medallion in recognition of their body of work. In addition, each artist is featured in a video portrait.

Listening to father’s stories

Artist Germaine Arnaktauyok, originally from an area near Igluilk but now a resident of Yellowknife. image courtesy of the Canada Council for the Arts

“I was always drawing since I was little and I never questioned it and just kept going,” Arnaktauyok said in her video. “I’m 74 years old and I’m still at it.”

Born near Iglulik and now a resident of Yellowknife, much of her work depicts Inuit legends in pen ink drawings.

“I try to put myself in the story, you know, how they think, how they breathe, and I make them alive, I guess, in my mind,” said Arnaktauyok.

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