The Canadian Winter Olympics symbol of the Vancouver games is well known for Norwegians: The inuksuk is to be seen in Oslo by the Maritime Museum at Bygdøy island:
An inuksuk (plural inuksuit) is a stone landmark or cairn, used by the Inuit, Inupiat, Kalaallit, Yupik, and other peoples of the Arctic region of North America, from Alaska to Greenland. The inuksuk may have been used for navigation, as a point of reference, a marker for hunting grounds, or as a food cache. The Inupiat in northern Alaska used inuksuit to assist in the herding of caribou into contained areas for slaughter. There are four authentic inuksuit around the world donated by the government of Canada: in Monterrey, Mexico – Washington, D.C. – Guatemala City and Oslo, Norway:
In 2005, The Canadian Ambassador to Norway unveiled an inuksuk at Bygdøy Maritime Museum in Oslo to celebrate Norway’s centennial (100 years since end to the Union between Sweden and Norway, 1814 – 1905). It was of course also recognizing the fondness our people have for each other and given as a symbol of the special relationship there exists between our two countries of the North.
The strong ties between Norway & Canada started with the Viking visits to Newfoundland, their brief settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows, and continue through Roald Amundsen‘s successful exploration through the Northwest Passage one hundred years ago. (1903-1906) During World War II Norwegian pilots trained at Little Norway, a training camp in southern Ontario. Today, our two countries share common visions on the international scene; we cooperate in fields such as Arctic Council, human security, the UN reform among others.
It is especially poignant that the inuksuk is created by Joseph Suqslak, a resident of Gjoa Haven in Nunavut. Amundsen spent three winters in Gjoa Haven before his successful attempt at sailing the Northwest Passage. The name of the community bears witness of the visiting ship. Without the willingness of the Inuit to share their knowledge and skills of survival in the arctic winter it is questionable whether Amundsen would have succeeded in his attempt:
Left: Amundsen’s boat Gjøa to the right – Right: Opposite side with Gjøa in front of The Fram and Maritime Museum.
The inuksuk next to the boat Gjøa was installed by Mr. Mattiusi Iyaituk, and artist and President of the Board of Directors of the Inuit Art Foundation in Canada.
The Olympics logo has become more and more a national symbol of the hosting county and showing some typical or genuine part of the countries roots or nature. Vancouver’s is a great example and here is the similar for the two games in Norway:
Left: In the centre the Olympic rings with the silhouette of the New Town Hall of Oslo. On the outside border the inscription “The VI Olympics Winter Games Oslo 1952”.
Right: A stylized aurora borealis (Northern lights) and snow crystals, the Olympic rings.
Since the start of the Vancouver games, the inuksuk in Oslo has been a very popular photo object. When my wife DianeCA and I were there today to shoot the pics for this post, we met people from all over the world – even China! Two girls where swarming around this strange stone statue. When I told them what it was and the purpose of my visit, they willingly posed – even if it was freezing cold :-)
It is always fun for me to meet new people from around the world and I am hoping this summer to meet many more friends! Remember the museums on Bygdøy Island will be available to participants at the Oslo Blog Gathering in August and I am really looking forward to guiding you around this beautiful place. So do another local gathering host, posting about the same: TorAa.