Do you know what Pittuk means? It is the Inuit word for "snow drift" and is just one of many words cut and etched on a metal panel wrapped around the fire hydrant near the Ted Nebbeling Bridge over Village Gate Boulevard.
The aluminium panel features six Inuit words with English definitions. Five Inuit words are from the Labrador dialect, and one, Qanuk, is Central Alaskan dialect. Other words are local slang, as well as words from a snow and avalanche article by Heather Beresford of the municipality.
The six Inuit words were cut into a metal panel by Maurice Lavoie of Pemberton’s Valley Metal Works. The panel was given to artists Fia Cooper and Chris Geisler, who finished the work by etching other words and snowflakes into the metal.
Snow is a passion for those that love Whistler. It is essential to the experience and history of this place, and deserves celebration. The Words for Snow project celebrates the phenomenon and language of snow.
As snow can transform, many words are needed to describe its attributes. The Inuit are said to have many words to describe snow. The same can be said for Whistler locals and all those that share the passion for snow.
The Words for Snow project is one attempt to document the language of snow, from the flake to the glacier. In addition to building the vocabulary, Words for Snow is a public art project that will lead to the display of the language in public places within Whistler Village.
The fire hydrant is the first stage of the Words for Snow project initiated by the Resort Municipality of Whistler as part of the Village Enhancement process.
One goal of the Enhancement Strategy is to reflect the character of Whistler, and the region, in the development of our public spaces. The Words project is conceived as a contextual feature that is distributed through the village, rather than developed as a focal element. In this first phase, seven or eight panels may be developed, each featuring different collections of words. The panels may be in various forms and may be displayed to enhance a concrete hydrant barrel, a power kiosk, a plain wall or other utilitarian object.
The project is managed by the municipality with guidance from the Public Art Committee. The project also involves the Whistler Public Library. The library will lead the collection of words. The library staff will determine the scope of the collection, which may include words from various cultures, the local lexicon, avalanche words, words from the science of snow and other types of snow words. The collection will include some definition of the words. The collection may also include symbols.
The library will carry out research to identify the other Words for Snow . The total number of words should be 100. Words from other cultures should include a definition. As part of the research process, the municipality will place advertisements to solicit favourite words from locals and visitors. The list of words will be used in developing other metal panels for display in the village.
The library is ready to accept your words for snow and their definitions. So come on by and help us in the word gathering process.