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Alootook Ipellie

Alootook Ipellie, born in 1951, Canadian Inuit author, editor, artist, and cartoonist, whose Arctic Dreams and Nightmares (1993) was the first published collection of short stories by an Inuit writer. Inuit life in the Arctic region of Canada changed significantly during the 20th century. The traditional Inuit nomadic life, based on hunting and fishing, was largely replaced by life in settlements that more closely resembled those of southern Canada. Ipellie's life and creative work vividly reflect this period of change among the Inuit of Canada.

Ipellie was born at a hunting camp on Baffin Island in what is now Nunavut, Canada. Although he and his family continued to be involved with some seasonal hunting, the family spent most of its time in the town of Frobisher Bay (now Iqaluit), Nunavut's largest community. His early education was in Iqaluit, but because there was no high school in the community, he had to leave for further education in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, and later in Ottawa, Ontario. At Ottawa's High School of Commerce, Ipellie first developed his drawing skills.

Ipellie settled in Ottawa, but he continued to create work for and about the Inuit in the north. In the early 1970s he did translations between English and the Inuit language of Inuktitut, worked as a journalist, and drew cartoons for Inuit Monthly (later renamed Inuit Today) magazine. Ipellie served as editor of Inuit Today from 1979 to 1982. In the 1970s his ongoing cartoon strip in Inuit Today provided a humorous, critical view of life for Inuit in the changing north. A later strip, Nuna and Vut, which appeared in Iqaluit's Nunatsiaq News in the 1990s, continued his satiric look at a life of transition in the Arctic. His pen-and-ink drawings have been featured at exhibitions in Canada, Norway, and Greenland.

Ipellie's nonfiction writing, such as his series of articles, "Those Were the Days", in Inuit Monthly (1974-1976), depicts how the lifestyle, religion, politics, language, and culture of the south have affected the Inuit way of life. His poetry, such as Take Me to Your Leader (1980) and Walking Both Sides of an Invisible Border (1992), also illustrates his attention to the effects of change on Inuit life.

The Inuit Thought Of It
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; Inuit;
Grade Levels: 5; 6; 7;

Dazzling inventions from the far north. 

Today's Arctic communities have all the comforts of modern living. Yet the Inuit survived in this harsh landscape for hundreds of years with nothing but the land and their own ingenuity. Join authors Alootook Ipellie and David MacDonald as they explore the amazing innovations of traditional Inuit and how their ideas continue to echo around the world. 

Some inventions are still familiar to us: the one-person watercraft known as a kayak retains its Inuit name. Other innovations have been replaced by modern technology: slitted snow goggles protected Inuit eyes long before sunglasses arrived on the scene. And other ideas were surprisingly inspired: using human-shaped stone stacks (lnunnguat) to trick and trap caribou. 

Many more Inuit innovations are explored here, including:

  • Dog sleds
  • Kids' stuff
  • Shelter
  • Food preservation
  • Clothing
  • Medicine.

In all, more than 40 Inuit items and ideas are showcased through dramatic photos and captivating language. From how these objects were made, to their impact on contemporary culture, The Inuit Thought of It is a remarkable catalog of Inuit invention.

Educator Information
Recommended Ages: 10-12.

B.C. Science Supplementary Resource: Gr.3- Physical Science 

B.C. Science Supplementary Resource Gr.4- Life Science

Series Information
This book is a part of the We Thought of It series, a series which takes readers on a fascinating journey across the world's second largest continent to discover how aspects of its culture have spread around the globe.

Additional Information
32 pages | 8.50" x 11.00"

Authentic Canadian Content
Authentic Indigenous Text