Qitsualik-Tinsley, Rachel

Author, translator, linguist and researcher born on the northern end of Baffin Island (Nunavut) in 1953.

Rachel Qitsualik-Tinsley, also known as Rachel Attituq Qitsualik-Tinsley or Rachel A. Qitsualik, is of Inuk, Scottish and Cree origins. She was born in 1953 – before the first hamlets were established in the Arctic – in a hunting camp located at the northern end of Baffin Island, in today’s Nunavut. She grew up there following the Inuit cultural habits and customs. Her father who was later involved in the founding of Nunavut, taught her Inuit survival skills, just as he taught his son.

Rachel Qitsualik-Tinsley then experienced life in Stringer Hall, a residential school in Inuvik (Northwest Territories) and witnessed first-hand the transition of Inuit culture from traditional to modern life. She completed a university degree in archaic dialects. Developing as a specialist in languages, world religions and cultures, she worked for several years as a scholar and a consultant. During this time, she published over 400 articles about Inuit languages, Inuit mythologies and precolonial cosmology. She also served as a judge for the “Stories” category for the “Indigenous Arts & Stories” contest sponsored by Historica Canada, one of the most important arts and literary creation contests for indigenous youth in Canada.

Rachel Attituq married Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley, an Arctic specialist, and together they have written many fictional short stories and educational texts about Inuit culture. They have together published with Inhabit Media several successful novels: The Raven and the Loon (2013), Tuniit: Mysterious Folk of the Arctic (2014) and Lesson for the Wolf (2015). The Raven and the Loon was translated into Inuktitut in 2013. These works celebrate the history and uniqueness of cosmology, cosmogony and shamanism in the Arctic. Many of Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley’s books are part of the teaching curriculum in primary and secondary schools as well as in universities. Rachel Qitsualik-Tinsley has also published two books in her own name in 2011: Under the Ice and The Shadows that Rush Past: A Collection of Frightening Inuit folktales, which was translated into Inuktitut in 2018.

In 2012, Rachel Qitsualik-Tinsley was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for her contributions to Canadian culture. In 2014, the novel Skraelings: Clashes in the Old Arctic which she co-authored with Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley won second prize in the Governor General’s Literary Awards in the “Young People’s Literature – English” category. Keavy Martin mentions and analyses Skraelings: Clashes in the Old Arctic in her book Stories in a New Skin: Approaches to Inuit Literature (2012).

From 1999 to 2010, Rachel Qitsualik-Tinsley was a columnist for Nunatsiaq News. More recently, in 2017, she was an unsuccessful candidate in Nunavut’s territorial elections for the Quttiktuq district (Nunavut).

Today, Rachel Qitsualik-Tinsley co-authors books with her husband Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley. Their latest published work released by Inhabit Media in 2019 is entitled Tanna’s Owl.

This biography is based on the available written material during a collective research carried out during 2018-2021. It is possible that mistakes and facts need to be corrected. If you notice an error, or if you wish to correct something in an author's biography, please write to us at imaginairedunord@uqam.ca and we will be happy to do so. This is how we will be able to have more precise presentations, and to better promote Inuit culture.

(c) International Laboratory for Research on Images of the North, Winter and the Arctic, Université du Québec à Montréal, 2018-2021, Daniel Chartier and al.