Cape Dorset

Canada's Inuit Art Capital

About Cape Dorset

Cape Dorset is a tiny northern Inuit community which sits on the southern tip of Baffin Island in Nunavut, near the arctic circle. The town rests among 1 million square miles of land and consists of about 1300 people, with 1 in every 4 workers defined as an artist.

The Art

  • The art of Cape Dorset tells the story or a people whose lives are completely intertwined with nature. Birds, wildlife and the landscape serve as some of the largest inspirations for their work
  • Interestingly, while we call their works "art" there is no equivalent word in inukitut. One of the words they use for "art" is Isumanivi which means "your own thoughts"
  • "It all begins with drawing. The drawing is the firsts idea. It is personal, intimate, uninhibited"

Art from Isolation

Lesson Ideas

  • Soap carving
  • printmaking (stone cut prints using soap carvings)
  • clay sculpting
  • creating a simple drawing that represents where you live or where you come from or what best represents your interests and your life.
  • research of a particular Cape Dorset artist

Grade 7 Art study of Place

Outcome: CH7.1

Investigate how artists’ relationship to place may be reflected in their work.

a. Examine arts expressions from around the world to determine how, and why, place is often represented or reflected in the work.

c. Analyze and describe contributions that artistic work makes to the individual and his or her place/community (e.g., commercial value, cultural value, functional value, expressive value).



Outcome: CH7.2

Investigate how Indigenous artists from around the world reflect the importance of place (e.g., relationship to the land, geology, region, urban/rural environments).

a. Research Indigenous artists from around the world to examine how their work conveys the importance of land, and share these insights with others.

b. Analyze and interpret the work of Indigenous artists within its cultural and contemporary contexts.

c. Examine and compare how the land influences the choices made by Indigenous artists around the world (e.g., choice of medium and subject matter such as Haida totem carving, Dakota pipestone carving, Inca gold engraving).

d. Demonstrate awareness of how contemporary Indigenous artists are influenced by place (e.g., hip hop and graffiti artists who use the urban landscape as a space for expressing ideas)


Outcome: CH7.3

Investigate and identify a variety of factors that influence artists, their work, and careers.

a. Research to determine various influences on the work and careers of selected Canadian artists.

c.Analyze relationships among artistic work, the community, and the economy (e.g., What do artists and arts organizations contribute to the community?).


Social Studies Outcome: DR7.2

Appraise the impact of human habitation on the natural environment in Canada, and in a selection of Pacific Rim and northern circumpolar countries.


Science Outcome: IE7.1

Relate key aspects of Indigenous knowledge to their understanding of ecosystems. [CP]