The greatest compliment ever extended to me was when I was told my drawing style reminded someone of Alootook Ipellie’s (1951–2007). I was (and still am) a great fan of Ipellie’s work, especially his technique in pen and ink.
His images in addition to his stories, poetry and comic strips, provided us with commentary on the socio-political events affecting Inuit. Oftentimes, Alootook’s illustrations offered an important insight into issues that went largely unnoticed or unaddressed by both local and national news sources.
In The Death of Nomadic Life, the Creeping Emergence of Civilization, Ipellie portrays the struggle of an Inuk living in the South. We are presented with a window, defined by two beautiful narwhal tusks; outside of the frame we see the artist clothed in handmade caribou skin clothing, while inside he is dressed in a suit. This contrast speaks to Ipellie’s experience living between two worlds: the North, represented by the hunter and the South, represented here through concert tickets and bow ties.
Ipellie and myself are both from the North, he from Nunavut and I from Nunatsiavut. And like many others who relocate to Southern Canada to pursue education, employment or other opportunities that may not be available in our homelands, we still feel that pull to return or the struggle to retain our “Inuk-ness”.
This drawing could speak to many Inuit who are far from their homes; though we may live in the South, we will always be part of our homelands, our history. We will always be Inuit.