Breaking Ancient Mystery Solved
I first saw the logo for the 2010 Winter Olympics on The Province newspaper's April 24 front page: "Meet Ilanaaq, the face of our Games." The front page also celebrated Ilanaaq's unveiling the evening before at "a spectacular show at GM Place."
My mother, who was volubly ratcheted about the logo, informed me that it represents an Inukshuk, an Inuktitut word for the rocks the Inuit stacked up as guideposts way up north.
Something about the shape reminded me of something else I'd seen, an archeological memory from my own ancient past. It suddenly came to me like a trombone wail that I was looking not at an inanimate Inukshuk at all, but an Aliup, what is to the Inuit and to everyone else an ancient ancestor who lived way back a long time ago, and yet lives with us.
A site that is hugely involved in the promotion of the Games, as well as of the logo, says that "Ilanaaq" is the word for "friend" and that it's pronounced "ih-lah-nawk." http://2010.dailyvancouver.com
The Aliup, which is pronounced "a-li-üp," is also a friend, again to the Inuit and everybody else, but a warmer blooded more motile friend, quite unlike an unembraceable Inukshuk, which stands there saying something silently to no one in particular with frozen rocks.
I found a press release from Canada NewsWire that quotes one John Furlong, chief executive officer of the Vancouver 2010 Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC): "Ilanaaq above all is a team player."
That made sense because back on 2010.dailyvancouver.com someone had said that some people think Ilanaaq looks like a hockey goalie. Goalies had better be team players. An Inukshuk actually is not much of a team player at all, but works best left completely alone. Aliup, on the other hand, really is a team player, in fact has stayed in the game almost forever just because so many people depend on him. Although there's no record of him ever playing hockey exactly, if he did play he could very well have what it takes to make a standout goalie.
Someone wrote on one site or another that Ilanaaq’s lineage traced back to Gumby, but our research showed this theory to be patently untrue. Gumby doesn't wear shorts and he doesn't have a wide ride like Ilanaaq to wear them on if he did have a pair. It’s true that Ilanaaq's head is green like Gumby, but their crania are measurably and observably structurally dissimilar.
A number of people on several sites said that Ilanaaq's head looked like Pacman. That bites, because what really looks like Pacman is the results 2010.dailyvancouver.com produced for its survey of whether Ilanaaq should represent Canada or B.C. Six percent had no opinion, but no matter what the percentages were, I was faced with the stark reality that Ilanaaq is not Pacman, not Gumby, not a Goalie, and not an Inukshuk, but, I was quite sure, a logoized Aliup.
With considerable effort, and at not a small bit of risk to myself, I followed my first hunch, which led me to some original early drawings of Aliups. Generations of people who remembered what the old Aliups looked like had died out since these early drawings were made, but the drawings had survived, intact and in a condition requiring negligible technical enhancement for me to make a definitive comparison.