Inuit carver North of 60 hoping to literally set traditional knowledge in stone

Inuit are known for storytelling and Angus Cockney is no exception.

The respected Inuvialuit carver from Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories is wowing audiences with his new collection Ataa! Soona Luna? – meaning listen what moon?

“This was the very first moon that I created somehow I felt compelled to do this one,” Cockney said. “I saw a piece of stone that spoke to me – ‘Angus you need to do the month of February.’”

Cockney honours generations before him by interpreting Inuvialuit stories of the 12 moons

It’s no easy feat  bringing oral history to life.

“How was I to properly represent the whiteness and shininess of the snow in April and the snow when the sun hits it and it sparkles,” said Cockney.

But it’s a personal responsibility – the stories have been handed down from his great, great grandfather to his grandfather – Naoyavak to himself.

“When I came across my grandfather’s book, I Nolagak which was published in ’64, it is a wonderful account of his life and times as an Inuaivlauit living in the Mackenzie Delta,” he said. “It took a while to put those stories in stone, the legends and whatever he was talking about the last while or so I finally felt that I had the maturity to honour those stories.”

Cockney hopes audiences learn about Inuvialuit culture and their resiliency,

He attended residential school at age five, when he left he went on to become a three time national champion in cross country skiing.

“Grollier Hall opened in 1959 and I got there in ‘62 so it was in its hay day and it was 13 years of that experience,” he said. “Like I said before, life is not how you make it, it’s how you take it.

“For me in residential school, I could have taken the path of a victim but I took the path of a victor.”

Cockney is kicking off the launch in the north at the Prince of Wales museum in Yellowknife.

He’s travelled with one moon so far but hopes to have the whole collection exhibited in museums in the future.

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