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Riopelle: The Call of Northern Landscapes and Indigenous Cultures

This activity reveals how encounters between Jean Paul Riopelle and Canada’s North and its Indigenous communities shaped this famous artist’s imagination. This is a unique opportunity to start a dialogue about Indigenous practices, particularly through a selection of masks made by Inuit and First Nations from the Northwest Coast.


Type of activity
In-class activity with a mediator
Our mediators travel to many schools across Montreal: Ahuntsic-Cartierville, Côte-des-Neige–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Lachine, Lasalle, Le Sud-Ouest, Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Montréal-Nord, Outremont, Plateau Mont-Royal, Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie, Saint-Laurent, Saint-Léonard, Verdun, Ville-Marie, Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension, Côte-Saint-Luc, Hampstead, Montreal West, Town of Mount Royal and Westmount.

Virtual visit with a mediator




Topics explored

  • Exploring the territory
    Students will discover how Riopelle’s work was inspired by the northern landscape and wildlife.
  • Creative act
    Students will learn about Riopelle’s creative process and artistic influences.
  • Encounters
    Students will discover how Riopelle was inspired by his encounters, particularly with Indigenous communities.

Students will explore works through observation exercises and games.

The workshop

Students can spontaneously experiment with the stencil technique to create an individual work.

Materials used:

  • Cardboard
  • Scissors
  • Gouache paints
  • Pastels
The learning progression

Thanks to its encyclopedic collection, the Museum is a fertile ground for stimulating reflection on ethical issues, learning about history, discovering the diversity of the world’s cultures and developing critical-thinking skills. Beyond artistic discovery, students will build their understanding of the world at the Museum. In this activity, students will specifically learn to:

All cycles

  • Name (1st cycle), identify (2nd cycle) or differentiate between (3rd cycle) transforming gestures and tools
  • Name (1st cycle), identify (2nd cycle) and differentiate between (3rd cycle) elements of the visual arts language
  • Appreciate works of art and cultural objects of artistic heritage
  • Produce personal works of visual art

Social sciences
1st cycle

  • Construct a representation of space, time, and society: identify elements of the natural landscape

2nd cycle

  • Assets and constraints of an occupied territory: description of the territory of northern Quebec

3rd cycle

  • Describe the cultural realities of northern Indigenous communities
  • Mi’kmaq society and Inuit society circa 1980: distribution, language, and characteristics of the territory

Religious culture and ethics:
1st cycle

  • Associate stories with their religious traditions

2nd cycle

  • Associate symbols and images with different representations of creation stories

3rd cycle

  • Name the values and norms of different religious traditions
Go more in-depth

EDUCART is an interdisciplinary pedagogical tool for Quebec teachers that was designed by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Among the many works featured on this platform, we suggest you consult The Ice Canoe by Jean Paul Riopelle on the theme of territories.

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