Let the Dolls Speak

from the Collection of the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut


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'Don't go looking for Antarctica without this book.' - Susan Solomon




This small selection of photographs attempts to convey the meaning of this beautiful collection. They were taken by © Solveig Gardner Servian during the visiting exhibition at the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, England in 2011. For the full story of the collection, please see Northern Doll Stories on this website. For enquiries about future opportunities to view the collection, contact


Dollmaker: Jenny Jackson, Yukon
This splendid potlatch (ceremonial feast) cape is a replica of the one owned by the artist’s mother-in-law, and is made of smoked hide, gopher, rabbit, horse hair, abalone buttons and beads.














Dollmaker: Lena White, Yukon
These dolls represent Lena’s husband and daughter. They are in traditional Southern Tuchone costume made from commercial tanned leather, muskrat, abalone buttons and beads. The beaded decoration is typical of the Yukon, with strawberries, forget-me-nots and daisies being the most popular motifs.











Dollmaker: Margaret Nazon and Lillian Wright, Northwest Territories
These two dolls are dressed in the famous Mother Hubbard design. Margaret’s, on the left in green, is based on her mother, a great storyteller, who used to travel throughout the Mackenzie Delta by dog team; materials used are cotton, muskrat, hide, embroidery, yarn and fleece. Lillian based her doll on her memories from the 1950-60s when everyone in the Mackenzie Delta wore fancy parkas, mitts and mukluks, and has fond memories of travelling on the land with her family, checking traps and setting up camps throughout the year; materials used are wool cotton, duffel, embroidery and canvas.


Dollmaker: Mary Rose Charlo, Northwest Territories
Mary is a traditional seamstress who makes beaded smoked skin jackets, gloves, mukluks, moccasins and parkas. She learned to tan hides by watching her mother, and has perfected the intricate art of beadwork. This pair of dolls is made from white caribou hide, muskrat, rabbit furs, beads and yarn.














Dollmaker: Suza’ Tsetso, Northwest Territories
Na, Tena (Thunder) of the Wolf Clan: an excellent hunter and provider, gifted with spiritual powers and teacher of the Sacred Laws of Nature. Materials include wolf, muskrat, moose hair, melton and cotton. Note how the face is simply made by stitching hair for the eyes, moustache and wispy beard.















Dollmaker: Lizzie Angootealuk, Nunavut
Lizzie likes to recreate traditional Inuit activities through her dolls, such as this hunter with harpoon. As can be seen in this close-up, she moulds exceptional faces from polymer clay. Materials used are seal, yarn, sinew and wood.






Dollmaker: Annie Cookie, Nunavut
From the age of 7, Annie learned to make baskets by watching her grandmother. This doll is a self-portrait, using grasses, melton, sealskin, fabric and leather; the base is soapstone.














Dollmaker: Sarah Uppik, Nunavut
It is Sarah’s hope that people viewing her dolls will understand that they are historically factual, that their clothes were made from animals, and that every part of the animal was used, not just the meat. This fisherman is made from char fish skin; fish skin was once used to make raincoats for children.














Dollmaker: Lizzie Ittinuar, Nunavut
Inuit legends are the subject of Lizzie’s work. This group depicts the hunter Kiviuq and his wives – the older looking dejected as the younger wife is favoured and dressed in finery – but the story is too long to relate here. Note the detail on the back of Kiviuq’s costume, made from seal and rabbit; the amauti is caribou, rabbit, rickrack and beads; and the hair of all three is musk ox.


Dollmaker: Helen Ell-Natakok, Nunavut
This artist’s work reflects the people from her community who have had a positive impact on her life. The face of the doll shown here is modelled on one of the elders, using polymer clay, and she is dressed in the traditional style of Coral Harbour. Materials used are duffle, embroidery and sealskin.




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