The stories of a people and their way of life have transformed blank walls at Medicine Hat College into a gallery of Inuit culture and history, thanks to a generous donation from college board member, Linda Rossler. This significant installation, entitled Inuit Heart: The Linda Rossler Print Collection, has grown over five decades and features 26 pieces from eight different artists, many of whom were contributing members of the Canadian Eskimo Arts Council.
The collection was started in Winnipeg in the late 1960s by Rossler’s husband, Harold, who was interested in the work of artists Jessie Oonark, Joe Talirunili, Davidialuk, Anguhadlug, Simon Tookoome, and Kavlak. Linda, who had worked in the northern communities of Flin Flon, Manitoba and the Queen Charlotte Islands in British Columbia, shared her husband’s passion for Inuit art and the stories it told.
Together the couple travelled throughout Western Canada over the next 30 years, acquiring more pieces from galleries and stores specializing in Inuit art.
Above: Linda Rossler, MHC Board of Governors, donor, and Inuit art collector.
One of their most memorable finds was a collection of three original drawings by Simon Tookoome during a trip to Vancouver for Expo ’87. The couple visited the Northwest Territories Pavilion and happened upon a handful of drawings scattered on the counter that Linda recognized as the work of Tookoome. They had just arrived from Baker Lake and the couple was told they could purchase the drawings for $100 each. Today, these drawings are among the most prized pieces in the collection and are valued between $700 and $2000.
The entire collection, worth over $24,000, was donated to the college in honour of MHC’s commitment to supporting First Nations, Inuit, and Métis (FNMI) communities with the hiring of a dedicated FNMI specialist, said Rossler.
Not only does this collection serve as an opportunity to share stories of the Inuit people with the college community, it also provides an important resource for the region of southeastern Alberta. Deborah Lloyd, a MHC board member and the FNMI coordinator and teacher for Medicine Hat School District No. 76, uses the collection to educate students from local schools about the Inuit way of life.
The community is welcome to visit Medicine Hat College and view Inuit Heart: The Linda Rossler Print Collection, located on the second floor in the Centre Core, above registration services.
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