Alootook Ipellie

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Alootook Ipellie
BornAlootook Ipellie
Nuvuqquq, Nunavut, Canada
Died8 September 2007(2007-09-08) (aged 56)
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
OccupationGraphic Artist, Satirical Cartoonist, Poet, Photographer
LanguageInuktitut , English
Notable worksArctic Dreams and Nightmares (1993)
Notable awardsCanadian Cartoonist Hall of Fame , 2016
RelativesTaina Ipellie

Alootook Ipellie (1951 – September 8, 2007)[1] was an Inuk graphic artist, political and satirical cartoonist, writer, photographer, and Inuktitut translator.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Ipellie was born in the small hunting camp of Nuvuqquq[2] near Frobisher Bay, Northwest Territories, now known as Iqaluit, Nunavut on Baffin Island. His father, Joanassie, died in a hunting accident before Ipellie's first birthday,[3] and his mother, Napatchie, moved with him to the hamlet of Frobisher Bay.[4] "He spent his childhood and early teenage years adjusting to the transition from the traditional nomadic Inuit way of life to life in government-sponsored Inuit settlements." [5]

There was no high school in his community so Ipellie had to move to complete his education. He ended up at Ottawa's High School of Commerce where he discovered his artistic ability. Ipellie eventually settled in Ottawa.


Ipellie worked as a journalist, cartoonist and editor for Inuit Monthly ( aka Inuit Today) during the 1970s and 80s.[6] In 1974, he started producing the comic strip "Ice Box" [3] that became a regular feature in Inuit Monthly. "The cartoons featured the Nook family and provided northern readers with a humorous look at issues affecting the Arctic. The Nooks, like Ipellie himself, were living through a transitional period in the North during which traditional Inuit language, social structure, and means of survival were being superseded by the new social, religious, and political structures of the South."[7]

He also participated in films like The Owl and the Raven and Legends and Life of the Inuit.

He then went on to create the comic strip Nuna and Vut in the 1990s.[8] These cartoons explored Inuit life during the creation of Nunavut. Using humor and illustrations, he commented on the social issues and inequity in Inuit communities.

Some of his poetry "The Igloos Are Calm in the Camp," "the Dancing Sun," "The Water Moved an Instant Before" were published in special issues of Canadian Literature.[9] Professor Michael P. J. Kennedy believes "Ipellie to be one of Canada's finest, and under-rated, aboriginal writers."[10]

He collaborated with authors providing the illustrations to books like Paper stays put : a collection of Inuit writing edited by Robin Gedalof.

Ipellie made a significant contribution to Canadian Literature with the publication of his short story collection " Arctic Dreams and Nightmares," presenting the changes and challenges faced by the Inuit. This was the first published work by an Inuk author.[6]


Three illustrated poems by Alootook were published when he was 17 called 'Hot to Warm and Cool to Cold'. It begins ...

"The mosquitos are at large today
As the wind stills, as the sun heats,
And we walk the rocks under,
Searching the hills for the meat
And hide of the useful caribou
that feeds and clothes my family,
Through four different seasons
When the winds change from
Hot to warm, and cool to cold."[11][12]

Other poems include: " Nipikti the Old Man Carver," "Frobisher Bay Childhood," "Damn Those Invaders" and "Siqiniq 'The Sun'" published in poetry anthologies and journals. (p. 355)[7]

Awards and honors[edit]

In 2019, Ipellie was inducted into the Canadian Cartoonists Hall of Fame.[13]


Ipellie died of a heart attack in Ottawa, Ontario at age 56 [1] and is survived by his daughter, Taina Ipellie.

Artwork in Public Collections[edit]

Inuit Art Quarterly has a list of exhibitions and public galleries that contain Alootook Ipellie's work.[14]

Gallery Address Name of Work Gallery Webpage
Carleton University Art Gallery St Patrick Building, 1125 Colonel By Dr, Ottawa, ON, Canada Inuit Collections
Canada Council Art Bank 921 St Laurent Blvd, Ottawa, ON, Canada "Ben-Ho Wins the Biggest Race of his Life, Thumbs Down 2007" Ben-Ho Wins
Richard F. Brush Art Gallery St. Lawrence University, 23 Romoda Drive, Canton, NY, United States "Canadian Government Laboratory" "Maternity Den - Soap Box," and more. Works by Ipellie, Alootook


Year Title ISBN
1980 Paper stays put: a collection of Inuit writing edited by Robin Gedalof ; drawings by Alootook Ipellie. Edmonton : Hurtig Publishers 0888301812
1993 Alootook Ipellie. Arctic dreams and nightmares. Penticton, B.C. : Theytus Books. This publication is the first to exclusively feature Alootook Ipellie's stories and his pen and ink drawings.[15] 0919441475
2005 Blohm, Hans, Alootook Ipellie and Hartmut Lutz. The Diary of Abraham Ulrikab. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press 978-0-7766-0602-6
2007 Lutz, Hartmut, Kathrin Grollmuß, Hans Blohm and Alootook Ipellie. Abraham Ulrikab im Zoo: Tagebuch eines Inuk 1880/81. Wesee (Germany): vdL:Verlag. German translation of The Diary of Abraham Ulrikab. 978-3-9263-0810-8
2007 Alootook Ipellie and David MacDonald. The Inuit thought of it : amazing Arctic innovations. Toronto : Annick Press. 9781554510887
2008 Alootook Ipellie and David MacDonald. Innovations inuites : il fallait y penser. Toronto : Éditions Scholastic. 9780545992299
2009 Alootook Ipellie and Anne-Marie Bourgeois. I shall wait and wait. [Oakville, Ont.] : Rubicon. In association with Scholastic Canada. 9781554487332


  1. ^ a b c "Alootook Ipellie's work lives on in Europe: A fitting legacy for Ipellie". Nunatsiaq News. Iqaluit, Nunavut. 13 December 2010. Retrieved August 16, 2012.
  2. ^ Kennedy, Michel P.J. (1996). "Alootook Ipellie: The Voice of an Inuk Artist".
  3. ^ a b McMahon-Coleman, Kimberley (2017-09-18). "Dreaming anidentity between Two Cultures: The Works of Alootook Ipellie". Kunapipi. 28 (1). ISSN 0106-5734.
  4. ^ MacPhee, Joyce (29 October 2007). "Remembering Alootook Ipellie". The Epoch Times.
  5. ^ Theytus Books (2007). "biography".
  6. ^ a b "Alootook Ipellie (Authors) - Strong Nations". Retrieved 2020-03-13.
  7. ^ a b Kennedy, Michael P. J. (1995). "Southern Exposure: Belated Recognition of a Significant Inuk Writer-Artist" (PDF). The Canadian Journal of Native Studies. 15 (2): 347–361 – via Open Access.
  8. ^ "Determined curators piece together Inuk artist's oeuvre". CBC News. October 2, 2018. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  9. ^ "Alootook Ipellie". Canadian Literature: A Quarterly of Criticism and Review. Retrieved 2020-03-13.
  10. ^ News, Nunatsiaq (2007-09-21). "Nunavut native revived artistic career after long hiatus". Nunatsiaq News. Retrieved 2020-03-13.
  11. ^ Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Ottawa. (May–June, 1971). North, XVIII(3), 34-37. (North was a scarce publication by the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Ottawa.)
  12. ^ Days, Culture. "Hot to Warm and Cool to Cold". Culture Days. Retrieved 2020-03-13.
  13. ^ MacDonald, Heidi (23 April 2019). "Inuit cartoonist Alootook Ipellie and FIona Smythe are joining the Giants of the North Hall of Fame". The Beat.
  14. ^ Foundation, Inuit Art. "Alootook Ipellie | Inuit Art Foundation | Artist Database". Inuit Art Foundation. Retrieved 2020-03-13.
  15. ^ Alootook Ipellie (1993). "Arctic dreams and nightmares". Theytus Books.