Northern News Services
The pieces, oil canvases that cost the government $17,000, are the work of Zinour Fathoullin, a Siberian artist who has lived in Nunavut since 1996.
Ray Lovell examines a canvas he was hired to frame for the government of Nunavut. The Department of the Executive paid $17,000 for seven of the paintings, not including the price of framing. - Christine Kay/NNSL photo
Cabinet secretary Anne Crawford signed the contract for the purchase some eight months ago. Now in the process of being framed -- framing is not included in the purchase price -- the pieces became the property of the territorial government in March.
But at least one Iqaluit resident isn't happy about the purchase. John French, the president of Niqinik Nuatsivik, Nunavut's food bank, said the money would be better spent feeding hungry Nunavummiut.
He said if the government had decided to give the food bank that $17,000, he'd be able to feed the 200 people he sees every week for four to six months.
"I would think that money would be better spent on us or the soup kitchen or put into looking at how to eradicate the problem of hunger," said French.
"As of yet, we haven't received any money from the government," he said.
French said even a donation of $5,000 would allow the food bank to buy enough non-perishable goods on the sealift to get the organization through the winter.
"We're seeing more people every week and there will likely be more in the winter," he said.
"You look out there and see 20 or 30 people lined up, some of them elders, standing there in minus 45 degree weather. It bothers you," he said.
Explaining the purchase, Crawford said the Legislative Assembly Building had no art representative of the circumpolar world. "It's the only circumpolar (artwork). We have a lot of art from different communities," said Crawford.
She also said it is important to view the purchase with a balanced perspective.
"There are people who are really proud of this (legislature) and want this done, ordinary people from Whale Cove," said Crawford.
"The other side is people feel there are more immediate needs. And there are more immediate needs," she said.
"That's the balance people have to decide on. Everyone has to decide on that ... public opinion counts. If people react negatively, that has impact," she said.
As of press time, it was not decided if the art would be hung where members of the public would be able to view it.