A Promise is a Promise

  • Comments
  • Study Aids
  • The Story
  • Set-up info
  • Video


WELCOME TO PANGNIRTUNG. Meet Allashua, who lives in the town, and the Qallupilluit who live under the sea ice.

This is a good show to enhance a unit on the Arctic, native Canadian legends, or modern Inuit life. The live music includes an Inuit frame drum, an accordion, and some very high-tech effects. The well known Canadian book, by Robert Munsch & Michael Kusugak is a favourite with kids.


We visited Baffin Island in preparation for this show, and returned to present the finished play to school children and elders there. We were delighted with their response. This play opened at the National Arts Centre, and has toured across Canada.


K–6. 250 students.



Magical—London Free Press.Magical


A Promise is a Promise is good—we promise!—The Hill Times

Fabulous puppets. Performers were perfect! Music was hauntingly beautiful…Don’t change a thing. It was perfect! The experience had an impact on my class.—Patti Bragg, Palmerston P.S.


Excellent all around!! Thank you.—Pine Grove P.S., Toronto


Great rapport with students! A spell binding performance.—Sunny View P.S., Toronto



Our study guide is available as a PDF here.


The Qikiqtani Inuit Association has a website about to Inuit myths here. The page on Qallupilluk is here. (Scroll down for English.)


You can hear Robert Munsch read A Promise is a Promise. Go to his website here and click on the "Listen" button.



Allashua, a little girl of about 11, lives with her family in a modern day Arctic town. She goes with her family on a fishing trip ...out on the land...


As soon as they arrive, her parents begin to unpack, but Allashua is so impatient to go fishing that they allow her to go ahead, as long as she goes fishing in the lake, and not in the sea. She promises them that she will not go near the dangerous cracks in the sea ice.


...But Allashua does not keep her promise. She goes to the sea and fishes in one of the cracks in the ice.


Her parents have told her about the mythical Qallupilluit, female monsters who grab children who go too near the sea ice without their parents.


She does not believe in them until suddenly the Qallupilluit appear, and drag her down beneath the ice. In desperation, Allashua promises that if the Qallupilluit let her go, she will come back and bring them all her brothers and sisters. The Qallupilluit agree and let her go.


When Allashua’s parents hear what has happened, they don’t scold.


They insist that she must keep her promise, but the mother has a plan. She invites the greedy Qallupilluit to a goodbye party for her children.

While the Qallupilluit are busy at the party, Allashua takes her brothers and sister to the sea ice, but of course, the Qallupilluit are not there.

Allashua has kept her promise, and the children are safe.


Physical Requirements
We need two tables, approximately 2 feet by 6 feet, (about the size of a standard folding table); and 10 chairs (standard stacking chairs will do nicely).

Set up time - 1 hour
Length of show - 50 minutes
Question period - 10 minutes
Take down time - 45 minutes
We need free and clear use of the performance area for two hours and forty-five minutes. Please rearrange any activities normally scheduled for that time, and have gym equipment, lunch tables, etc., removed for our arrival.

Seating Arrangement
Our set will extend 25 feet across, and is 20 feet deep. We prefer the children to be seated on the floor, with the youngest children in the front. This is easiest to accomplish if the children arrive in order of age. Chairs can be set out along the sides so that teachers can sit beside their students. You can see a PDF file of our seating plan for schools here, and our public show seating here.

Please turn off all bells, fans, and air conditioners for the duration of the performance.

Access to Performance Area
We need to back our van up to the door which gives the closest access to the performance area. Please arrange to have keys to all gates and doors which might impede access, and to keep the parking space free for us. If there is no easy access to the performance area, we would appreciate it if three or four people could help us to unload and load our equipment.

Floor Plan
A floor plan of the show, in PDF format, is available for download: click here.

Here's a short clip of Promise from a report on CTV: