Countdown underway for Kenojuak Cultural Centre and Print Shop

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There’s a lot of excitement surrounding the grand opening of the Kenojuak Cultural Centre and Print Shop, and Louisa Parr is at the centre of it all.

Joe Tapaungai, a carving buyer for West Baffin Eskimo Co-op, addresses the group during a tour inside the new Kinngait Studios, which is part of the cultural centre. Louisa Parr photo

Parr, the facility’s manager, is admittedly feeling some pressure as the big days draw near – Sept. 5 for community members and Sept. 8 for visiting dignitaries.

“It’s been very hectic,” she said, while battling a cold with (less than) two weeks to go until opening. “I’m starting to get a little nervous. The time is going by way too quickly.”

Although Parr is doing the bulk of the work, she gets direction and support from an advisory committee comprising Hamlet of Cape Dorset officials and West Baffin Eskimo Cooperative representatives. She also has a co-curator in William Huffman, with Dorset Fine Arts, who is helping to arrange some of Kenojuak Ashevak’s never-before-seen carvings and drawings.

There are many other talented Cape Dorset artists who will be featured in the future and the ability to reconfigure the magnetic walls – a design feature in the facility – will allow for substantial flexibility in how the galleries look, Parr noted.

The transformation within the building has been dramatic since she assumed the job three months ago.

“It was pretty bare when I started. All my office equipment was still in boxes. It was like Christmas when I started opening everything,” she said, laughing.

Although Parr is a throat-singer, she claimed not to be an artist.

Cape Dorset’s Louisa Parr is the manager of the Kenojuak Cultural Centre.
photo courtesy of Louisa Parr

“I can’t carve. I can’t draw to save my life,” she joked.

However, coming from a strong line of artists on both sides of her family – including grandfather Kananginak Pootoogook, who was influential in the founding of West Baffin Eskimo Cooperative – Parr has developed a keen appreciation for art.

The $10.2-million, 10,400-square-foot building has already hosted some guests. An elders group gathered there earlier this month and some benefactors who contributed greatly to the $3.2 million in private donations made their way to Cape Dorset from as far away as the U.S. to see the building and its contents.

“There are a lot of people who donated to this building and if it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t have this beautiful building,” Parr said.