Inuk Artist Shuvinai Ashoona Receives the Prestigious Governor General’s Award

Ashoona has been recognized for her impact and exceptional achievements in Inuit art.

Inuk Artist Shuvinai Ashoona Receives the Prestigious Governor’s General Award

Photo by Byron Dauncey

Since starting to create art after encouragement from her sister over 20 years ago, Shuvinai Ashoona has received many accolades for her expressive body of work, including being elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 2013. She is one of eight recipients of the prestigious Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts in 2024.

Hailing from Kinngait (also known as Cape Dorset), Nunavut, Ashoona’s colourful, otherworldly creations speak to Inuit culture through a contemporary lens, seamlessly blending historical and present-day elements through drawings. A few works are self-portraits, while many are detailed fantastical landscapes peppered with human figures with animalistic features.


Shuvinai Ashoona Receives the Prestigious Governor’s General Award

Shuvinai Ashoona: An Exhibition and Celebration, Marion Scott Gallery, installation view


Shuvinai Ashoona, untitled (shoes), permanent marker and Adidas sneakers, women’s size 7


Ashoona’s work has been exhibited across the country and in the U.S. in an expansive list of distinguished galleries and recently was recently shown in Europe. In 2022, an installation of six of her drawings received a special mention at the Venice Biennale. A solo exhibition titled Shuvinai Ashoona: When I Draw is currently on display in the U.K.

She says winning the award is “unbelievable” and expresses joy at the achievement, explaining she would love to create a lot more art. “I don’t even think about getting awards for making my art,” she says. “I’m just happy when people can see my drawings in galleries and museums and books. I think this award means that many, many people are getting to see my artworks.”

Ashoona is the third generation in her family recognized for Inuit art—her father, Kiugak Ashoona, and grandmother Pitseolak Ashoona are the most celebrated Kinngait artists of their generations. A member of the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative, Ashoona works in the studio and offers mentorship to many young creatives there.



Inuk Artist Shuvinai Ashoona Artwork

Left: Shuvinai Ashoona, Tangled Up, 2023, etching and hand-colouring, variable edition, 10/10 Right: Shuvinai Ashoona, Going Around the World, 2023, etching and hand-colouring, variable edition, 10/10


Shuvinai Ashoona Receives the Governor’s General Award

Shuvinai Ashoona, untitled (hanging pyramid), 2024, monotype on paper mounted on acid-free foam core


“Shuvinai Ashoona is one of Canada’s most influential visual artists and has fast become an internationally important creator,” says Pauloosie Kowmageak, president of the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative. “Ashoona has achieved remarkable success and recognition for her art practice and the community of Kinngait. I can’t imagine a more deserving recipient of this prestigious award.”

Robert Kardosh, the owner of Marion Scott Gallery in Vancouver, nominated Ashoona for the Governor General’s Award. Kardosh met her father when he was young and his mother, Judy Kardosh, was the art gallery owner showcasing Kiugak Ashoona’s work. Kardosh, the third-generation owner of the gallery founded by his grandmother, Marion Scott, says Shuvinai Ashoona’s artwork makes connections and bridges cultures. “Her images tell us something important about ourselves and the world we all share. This award acknowledges and celebrates that deep resonance. It’s also a testament to her tenacious dedication to her vision and community.”