Saila Kipanek was born August 28, 1948 in a camp near Cape Dorset, NWT where his father and grandfather were born.
At an early age, his mother died and Kipanek of Lake Harbour, NWT, adopted him and his sister. After living in and around Lake Harbour his family moved to Iqaluit (Frobisher Bay). As with Inuit customs, he remained in contact with his natural father and stepmother, Pauta and Pitaloosie Saila of Cape Dorset.
Saila was the first to design a falcon in one solid piece from the base up. He prefers his work to include solid bases. It was not until 1982, when Saila was thirty-four, that he seriously decided to become a full time sculptor. He considers his first major exhibit of his sculpture was in the Gallery of Eskimo Art in Santa Monica, near Los Angeles, California where he stayed for one week in November of 1986. The exhibit was entitled ‘ Eyes of the Ice’. The show featured a mixed-media exhibit by various Inuit artists as well as a premier exhibit of the 1987 Pangnirtung print collection.
From 1991 to 1995 Saila went to live in Rockwood Ontario. By then, he was carving full time, a father of three children and he was experimenting with different stone such as alabaster, granite, translucent stone, Brazilian stone and sandstone. In 1993 Saila was the recipient of a Canada Council grant for a series of 6 sculptures entitled Earth, Air and Water; A Fragile Link.
From September to November 1998 and in March to April of 1999 Saila was asked to take over as supervisor for a Nunavut Training programme for carving. At the present time Saila continues to work full time at sculpting, producing large and small pieces, but primarily focusing on larger scale works. His whimsical depictions of the owl, hawk and narwhal make his sculpture sought after by many collectors of Inuit art on a global level.