In spring 2016, Blue Rhino Design was delighted to win the design-build contract to create the exhibit gallery for the Illusuak Cultural Centre. Illusuak is located in Nain, Nunatsiavut, the farthest north permanent community in Labrador. Created on December 1, 2005, Nunatsiavut is an autonomous area claimed by the Inuit in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.
A 1,300 square meter, purpose-built structure designed by architect Todd Saunders, Illusuak takes its inspiration from the form of traditional Labrador Inuit sod houses. Construction began early in 2016 and opening date is scheduled for late 2018.
Illusuak will be a regional showcase of Labrador Inuit culture and history. The goals of Illusuak are to:
- Promote awareness, appreciation and respect for Labrador Inuit history and culture
- Provide opportunities for Inuit of all ages to understand who they are and where they came from
- Facilitate engaging, memorable experiences that capture visitors’ imaginations
- Play a key role in preserving and teaching Inuktitut
- Effectively communicate the inseparable relationship between the Inuit, their culture and the vast natural landscape
Illusuak will also serve as the gateway to Torngat Mountains National Park - a remote and spectacular wilderness area comprising 9,700 square kilometers of the Northern Labrador Mountain natural region. The park is co-operatively managed by Parks Canada and the Nunatsiavut Government. This relationship will also extend to Illusuak with Parks Canada as a key partner in both the development and future operations of the centre.
Blue Rhino Design selected the Ontario Science Centre as their fabrication partner for the project. Blue Rhino Design is working collaboratively with the Ontario Science Centre, the Nunatsiavut Government, Parks Canada, and an Advisory Committee of Inuit elders to ensure that Illusuak is true to Inuit culture and values. We are leading all phases of the project, from the development of interpretive content to final installation.
In July 2016, we had the pleasure of travelling to Nain for the project's kick off meeting. We were honoured to meet with both government and elders during this trip. The visit to Nain was a transformative experience for all of us on the Blue Rhino Design / Ontario Science Centre team. Our researcher/writer, Kimberly Moynahan, reflects on the significance of Illusuak in her piece "Illusuak: Where work and meaning converge."