MAY 7, 1984


Born in 1901 at Tahiryuak Lake, on Victoria Island and raised in the Prince Albert Sound area, Helen lived a traditional Inuit lifestyle most of her life.  Her father taught her to be an angatkuq (spiritual healer).  In 1960, after her husband died, she moved to present-day Ulukhaktok and helped a Catholic priest set up an Eskimo Co-op.  At this time, Kalvak began her artwork focusing on her background in traditional spirituality and the stories she learned as a child.  By 1965, prints of her artwork were sold worldwide.  Ten years later, Kalvak was inducted into the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts and, in 1978, was appointed to the Order of Canada.  However, by then, Parkinson’s Disease had deprived her of the use of her hands.  In 1979, Canada Post used her work entitled The Dance for a postage stamp.  With 179 published prints, Kalvak is the Ulukhaktok artist with the largest body of published work. 

Sources:  Darlene Coward Wight, "Helen Kalvak 1901-1984,", 5/11/2011.  Retrieved 6/29/2019,
Print:  Helen Kalvak, 1969.  “Caribou Hunt in Kayak.  Stone Block Print. Courtesy of University of California Davis Department of Anthropology Museum, Canadian Inuit Art Collection.  Source:

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