Sissons / Morrow Collection
Justice Sissons became an avid collector of Inuit art during his decade in the North. His collection of carvings dealing with the outstanding trials of his northern career began when one of the accused coming before him, Kaotak, a man found not guilty of killing his father, presented him with a carving in 1956. It gave the man's impression of being on trial. This first carving launched the Justice Sissons’ carving collection.
From that day on, on completion of a particularly noteworthy case, Justice Sissons would seek out local carvers whom he commissioned to depict the events in stone, ivory, caribou antler, soapstone and metal. Sometimes he would enlist the local priest or store manager to explain what he wanted; other times he would talk to the carver himself. Justice Morrow succeeded Justice Sissons in 1966. Justice Morrow continued to collect carvings of notable cases and added three carvings to the collection. Upon Justice Sissons’ death in 1969, the collection was given to the people of the North, deeded in trust to the Senior Judge of the Supreme Court.
There have been several reviews of the carving collection, most notably Judge of the Far North : the memoirs of Jack Sissons (Toronto : McClelland and Stewart, 1968), and also Images of Justice by Dorothy Eber (Montreal : McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1997). The Government of the Northwest Territories has also produced an illustrated pamphlet of the carving collection (Yellowknife, NT : Northwest Territories. Culture and Communications, 1988). The descriptions of the carvings shown on this site have compiled from these three sources.
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