I love teaching the students at my English school, Smith’s School of English, Tsuruhashi about my country and its culture. The Vancouver Olympics have given me a great opportunity to share all the wonderful things that are currently happening in my hometown, and my students can relate because they see a lot of the images on T.V. and the newspaper nearly everyday. One image in particular is the one you see here.
It is known as Ilanaaq (el-a-nawk). Ilanaaq is not an English word, but a word taken from the Inuit language meaning “friend”. This is a structure made of stone that is primarily used as a landmark for directing travelers or for hunters herding caribou in the Northern regions of Canada. The structure itself is known as an Inukshuk.
The one we see everyday gracing our television sets has been specially designed to represent all of Canada. At first glance, the colour scheme resembles that of the Olympic rings, however if we look closely, they are a tad bit different. The colours being used in Ilanaaq are actually meant to represent the vast nature that you see all across Canada.
Green, for example, most obviously represents the sprawling forests and greenery that make up a very large part of Canada’s wilderness.
Next, there is the darkish blue portion of the Ilanaaq that can be viewed as the blue freshwater lakes and rivers that make up approximately 9% of Canada’s total area.
The light blue, grayish coloured part is meant to represent the North with all the ice and gray tinted skies.
The yellowish gold leg of Ilanaaq can perhaps only be imagined if you have traveled through the prairies at one time or another. The endless wheat, canola, barley and sunflower fields that seem never-ending leave a lasting memory when driving down the Trans-Canada.
Finally, the last colour portrayed in this highly meaningful icon would have to be none other than the one found in our flag and our forests. A simple red maple leaf. Truly a symbol that is tied tightly with Canada more than any other.
It’s been a joy watching the Olympics while here in Osaka, Japan. And it’s been even better being able to talk about them with the students at my English school.
As I mentioned before, Ilanaaq’s yellow leg represented the golden prairies of Canada, I’m also hoping it will represent the gold medals that Canada will win!