When Inuit art was introduced into the Canadian art scene in the early 1950s, the Canadian federal government created the igloo tag, a trade mark to protect Inuit artists' work from imitators. This trade mark was kept under the control of the Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs (DINA) in what was seen by some critics as a continuation of colonialism. The trade mark has now been transferred from DINA to the Inuit Art Foundation after 60 years, in a move that has been welcomed by the indigenous community. The handover comes as Inuit art is seeing an explosion in popularity in Canada.
The igloo tag was established in 1958 to designate and protect art pieces made by Canadian Inuit. Whilst the idea behind the igloo tag was to protect Inuit sculptures from mass market imitation, the tag does protect all Inuit art. Similar trade marks designating Inuit art exist around the world.
The design of the igloo tag has also been updated following the transfer of control to the Inuit Art Foundation to say Inuit art rather than eskimo art. According to the Inuit Art Foundation this more accurately reflects how the Inuit represent themselves. The handover has been welcomed by the Inuit Art Foundation who have noted that the transfer of power from the Canadian government to the Foundation marks a significant step towards the decolonization of the Canadian Inuit population.
The Foundation, which currently promotes Inuit artwork by offering artists professional development opportunities and residencies, is hoping to build on developing the igloo tag trademark and Canadian Inuit art throughout Canada.in: News, Trade Marks