Inuk what? I can hear you say – Inukshuk. They are to be found all over the circumpolar world. Inukshuk is an Inuit word meaning “in the likeness of a human”. These are monuments of stones used for communication as well as survival. Traditionally it meant “someone was here” or “you are on the right path”. The Inukshuk serves a number of purposes really; for navigational or directional aids, marking a place of respect or as a memorial for a loved one, to indicate routes or places where fish can be found, and signifying places of power or a spiritual place. Almost always you will find a singular inukshuk, however, sometime they are arranged in sequences spanning great distances or they are grouped to mark a specific place.
Inukshuk are among the oldest and most important objects placed by humans in the Arctic landscape. They are now a familiar symbol of the Inuit and their homeland. Their tradition forbids the destruction of an Inukshuk.
Inukshuks come in a variety of sizes and in various forms: small or large, single rock or several rocks balanced on each other, round boulders of flat stones; whatever happens to be on hand really. The purpose of the marker is determined by the arrangement of the stones. The directions of the arms or legs might indicate the way to an open channel for navigation or a passage through mountains.
The Inukshuk was used as the logo of the 2010 Winter Olympics, which were held in Vancouver, Canada.
Wherever we have travelled in Canada we have come across inukshuks that have been built by the roadside, along rivers, on pebble beaches and in the mountains. All over Canada they can be found in shops made from all kinds of different materials. I love these markers and all the different uses they serve in this vast land.