In an announcement made June 12, 2019, The North West Company and its leadership confirmed their support of the WAG Inuit Art Centre with a generous gift totalling $2 million.
Dr. Stephen Borys, WAG Director & CEO, Dr. Ernest Cholakis, WAG Chair, and H. Sandy Riley, Chair, The North West Company, made the announcement at an event in the WAG’s Skylight Gallery that also featured throat singers Nikki Komaksiutiksak, Carmello Swan, and Chasity Swan.
“The North West Company and its leaders are champions of the WAG and the Centre, stepping forward to create a platform for Inuit to share their stories with the world,” said Borys in acknowledging The North West Company contribution. “Collaboration and partnership with Indigenous peoples are critical to both the WAG and The North West Company.”
In confirming The North West Company’s commitment to ensuring the needs of those in the North are met and acknowledging the importance of the region to the nation, Sandy Riley also spoke personally about the significance of the gift to his family, in particular to J Derek Riley, Founding Chair of The North West Company, who passed away in 2018.
Dr. Ernest Cholakis paid tribute to the leadership and vision of The North West Company. “With this commitment, we look forward to helping more people across the country look North, and to understand the peoples who live there, their culture, their art, their history, and their current lives. This gift will provide the capacity to do so. It helps connect North and South so that we can amplify Inuit voices, and ensure Inuit stories are told and heard.”
The WAG thanks the donors: The North West Company; Edward Kennedy, President & CEO, and Stella Kennedy; H Sanford Riley, Chair of the Board, and Deborah Riley; former Chair Ian Sutherland, and Judy Sutherland; and J. Derek Riley, Founding Chair of The North West Company.