Mariano Aupilardjuk

Mariano Aupilardjuk was an accomplished artist and highly respected Elder from the community of Kangiqliniq (Rankin Inlet), NU. In a career spanning several decades, Aupilardjuk was known for his drawings, was a carver, a drummer, a storyteller, and he even dabbled in acting, playing an Inuk Elder in the 2003 film The Snow Walker [1]. He is also the father of Pierre Aupilardjuk, a well-known ceramicist. 

Aupilardjuk’s commitment to sharing Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit – traditional knowledge – was rooted in his desire to link the past, the present and the future of Inuit in Nunavut. Like many Inuit, Aupilardjuk was not just an artist, but a key member of his community who advised many people, from local residents to politicians, on understanding and using traditional ways and how they could be applied in modern society [2]. In addition to his knowledge sharing with Inuit politicians, the artist also contributed to the creation of the official territorial mace which is on display at the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut in Iqaluit [3].

He was awarded the National Aboriginal Achievement Award in 2001 by Indspire in the category of Culture, Heritage, and Spirituality [2] as well as the Ron Wiebe Restorative Justice Award in 2006 [4]. He also recieved an honorary degree in education from the University of Prince Edward Island in 2009 [5] and Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 [6]. Following his death in 2012, a commemorative mural featuring his likeness titled Aupilardjuk: rest in paradise was installed in his honour [7]. 


1. Mariano Aupilardjuk, IMDB,, accessed August 26, 2020

2. Mariano Aupilardjuk, Indspire Laureates,, accessed August 26, 2020

3. The Mace of Nunavut, Nunavut Legislative Assembly,, accessed August 26, 2020

4. National Ron Wiebe Restorative Justice Award previous recipients and nominees, Correctional Service Canada,, accessed August 26, 2020

5. Special UPEI Convocation in Iqaluit for Inuit MEd graduates on July 1, University of Prince Edward Island,, accessed August 26, 2020

6. Recipients (page 5), Govenor General of Canada: Honours,, accessed August 26, 2020

7. Photo: “Aupilardjuk rest in paradise”, Nunatsiaq News,, accessed August 26, 2020