MARCH 8, 1993


Born on Nottingham Island, Northwest Territories, circa 1904, Pitseolak, whose name meant “Sea Pigeon,” was raised in the traditional Inuit lifestyle, moving from camp to camp.  In 1922, she married and had 17 children; 6 lived to adulthood.  After her husband died, she began to carve, sew, and draw.  With pen and colored pencils, she began drawing tales and scenes of Inuit life and told her story in a book Pitseolak: Pictures out of my life.  The National Film Board of Canada turned the book’s illustrations into an animated film.  Her work has been featured at the National Gallery of Canada, Winnipeg Art Gallery, Art Gallery of Ontario, Canadian Museum of Civilizations, and Vancouver Art Gallery, with a 1975 retrospective at the Smithsonian Institution.  A member of the Royal Academy of the Arts, in 1977, Pitseolak also received the Order of Canada.  She was one of four women honored by Canada as part of its postage stamp set.  Pitseolak died May 28, 1983 at Cape Dorset.

Sources:  “Pitseolak (Pitseolak Ashoona),” Canadian women Artists History Initiative.  Retrieved 6/11/2019,
 “Pitseolak Ashoona,” Famous Canadian Women on Stamps.  Retrieved 6/11/2019,
Stonecut & Stencil:  Pitseolak Ashoona (c.1904-1983), 1980.  “Desperate Chase.”  Reproduced with the permission of Dorset Fine Arts.

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