11/17/2006

The Inuit Inukshuk...

As one travels across the Canadian Arctic, one will see piles of rock slabs and stone built to resemble the shape of a person with arms stretching out. These stone structures put up by Inuit are known as inukshuk (pronounced 'in-ook-shook'). In the Inuit language Inuktitut, inukshuk means "likeness of a person" or "in the image of man". The plural form of inukshuk is inuksuit or inukshuit. The inukshuk is a well known symbol in the Canadian north.Traditionally, the Inukshuk can also be found along Arctic coastlines as markers to open channels for navigation. Inland where the tundra is treeless, the inukshuk could indicate direction of a valley for travel through mountains. The longer arm of an inukshuk points in the direction that one should travel to. Sometimes an inukshuk could have a peep hole in the middle and if someone looked through it, another inukshuk in the distance could be seen.

The Inuit inukshuk has evolved into more than just stone markers. It has become a symbol of leadership, cooperation and the human spirit. Each stone of an inukshuk is a separate entity but was chosen for how well it fits together with other stones. The stones are secured through balance. Each one supports the one above it and is supported by the one below it. Together, the stones achieve strength through unity. This effect is applied to a philosophy for people where a group can achieve greater success with cooperation and team effort rather than individually. The inukshuk stands for the importance of friendship and reminds us of our dependence on one another. The difference we make today does count in all our tomorrows.

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