It began in New York City. While standing on a street corner, amid heavy pedestrian traffic, cars whizzing past, and horns blowing, Jill would say, “Little Man.” It was puzzling. Jill, who has always worked with people with differences, would never call attention to a person’s differences, even stature. Another corner, another “Little Man.” Finally, the light clicked on. On the pole across the street, the sign had changed from a red hand to a white stick figure. Jill was announcing the change in crosswalk signal, indicating to the old guy standing next to her that he should step off the curb and cross the street before the red hand appeared and cross traffic began flowing again.
Cruising the Georgian Bay, the announcement of “Little Man” began again. Puzzling – there are no traffic signals on the waterways. Looking over to an island, the object of the announcement became clear. It was a stacked-stone man, a Canadian Native welcoming symbol. The Inuit statue is an Inukshuk (In-OOK-Shook), with many translations, including: “Stone man that points the way,” “Someone was here,” and “You are on the right path.” The rock stack was used by the Inuit from Alaska to Greenland. The Inukshuk is a symbol of hospitality and friendship, and was chosen to be the symbol for the 2010 Vancouver Canadian Winter Olympics.
Canadians have built Inuksuit throughout the Georgian Bay 30,000 Islands. They stand on islands with homes and on small islands that are only a rock. Seeing an Inuksuk does make one feel welcomed.