Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Pitseolak Ashoona

Born on Nottingham Island in the Northwest Territories, Pitseolak Ashoona (1904 or 1907 - 1983) was an Inuit Canadian artist admired for the unpretentious authenticity in her works.

Growing up the traditional life with hunting, gathering and shamans, she was the last of dozens of generations of Inuit, growing up in the traditional lifestyles enjoyed by the North American Inuit since before 1000 BC.

Marrying Ashoona, a hunter, in the Foxe Peninsula of Baffin Island, they raised 12 children (or 17?), 10 of which survived past infancy. Ashoona the hunter then died at age 40, leaving her all alone with a handful of kids.

The Government Administrator and her cousin both inspired her to try her hand at drawing, then copper plates, a technique she did not enjoy.

In the last two decades of her life, she assembled a collection of 7000 images, 233 of which became prints in her Cape Dorset Collection. Her artwork focuses on both daily life and legends, or Taleelayu.

Her portrait was featured on a Canadian stamp in commemoration of International Woman's Day, and in 1977, she was made a Member of the Order of Canada, the highest possible honour for a Canadian civilian.

On May 28, 1983, Pitseolak Ashoona died in Cape Dorset. She was survived by an large family of artists, including: