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Sissons/Morrow Carvings at Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre

Museum Alive! Open House

Yellowknife (October 25, 2010) – In honour of the 55th anniversary of the establishment of the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories, the Sissons/Morrow carving collection is on public display at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre in Yellowknife.

“The carvings depict important parts of our legal and cultural history,” said the Minister of Justice and Education, Culture and Employment Jackson Lafferty. “The exhibit shows the development of our justice system throughout its early days. The majority of the cases shown in the collection involve Aboriginal traditions and justice.”Justice Sissons was the first judge of the Supreme Court of the NWT and he began collecting Inuit art in 1956. It all started when Kaotak, a man from one of his trials, gave Justice Sissons a carving that depicted Kaotak’s experience in the courtroom. Justice Sissons commissioned local carvers to depict the events that led to noteworthy trials. When Justice Morrow succeeded Justice Sissons in 1966, he continued collecting carvings in stone, ivory, caribou antler, soapstone and metal. The “billion-dollar duck” from R. v. Sikyea is also on display as part of the collection.

Upon Justice Sissons’ death in 1969, the people of the NWT received the entire collection, deeded in trust to the Senior Judge of the Supreme Court.

“I am very pleased that the Sissons/Morrow Collection will once again be available for public viewing,” said Justice John Vertes, Senior Judge of the Supreme Court of the NWT. “This invaluable collection represents some of the most significant early cases in the court’s history and the modern contact between the north’s population and the Canadian justice system. The collection belongs to the people of the Northwest Territories, as part of our collective heritage, and it is only right that the people be able to view them first-hand.”

Photographs of the collection are available on the NWT Courts website at www.nwtcourts.ca.

For more information, contact:

Amy Doerksen
Manager, Public Affairs
Education, Culture and Employment
Phone: (867) 920-6222
Email: amy_doerksen@gov.nt.ca