• Feature

10 Inuvialuit Performers and Designers to Know

Jun 03, 2024
by IAQ

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement on June 5, we’re highlighting 40 Inuvialuit artists we think you should know in a four-part series; today we’re looking at 10 performers and designers from the region. For some artists, design and performance are interwoven, such as for drum dancers like Brian Rogers, while other artists are boosting their design labels through modern platforms like Taalrumiq/Christina King. We’re excited to add another spotlight to Inuvialuit artists!

Dennis Allen 

Dennis Allen is a musician, writer and filmmaker from Inuvik, Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT.  Allen has won many awards for his work, including the Alanis Obomsawin Best Documentary Award at the 2009 imagineNATIVE Film Festival, for his documentary CBQM (2009). He has also released two music albums: Wayward Son (2008) and Sonny Crow (2014). In addition to his work in film and music, Allen facilitates a variety of workshops and seminars relating to film as a medium for storytelling and healing. Earlier this year Allen’s short story “The White Stetson Hat” was longlisted for the CBC Short Story Prize and an earlier version of the story was longlisted for the same prize in 2021.


Elizabeth Arey Untitled (n.d.) COURTESY ENTREPRENORTH © THE ARTIST

Elizabeth Arey
Elizabeth Arey is an Inuvialuk and Gwich’in textile artist based in Tuktuuyaqtuuq (Tuktoyaktuk), Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT, who creates work under her label Arctic Ocean Mocs. Arey comes from a family of beaders and sewers; she learned to sew from her mother, and her sister Taalrumiq, cousin Erica Joan Donovan and their aunt Maureen Gruben are all artists too. Arey’s focus is sewing and beading sealskin moccasins, with various designs on the uppers and furs used for the trim. Arey participated in the 2020–2021 Circumpolar Fashion Cohort held by EntrepreNorth alongside Donovan, and in 2021 her work was included in CRAFTED NWT at the Alberta Craft Gallery in Edmonton, AB.

karlyn_blake_parka cover

Karlyn Blake Parka cover (n.d.) COURTESY NWT ARTS © THE ARTIST

Karlyn Blake 

Karlyn Blake is a beader and jeweller from Aklavik, Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT, who creates work under her label Designs by KarJoy. She is inspired by beaders and sewers in her family as well as her environment, and her designs include earrings, keychains, pins and popsockets. She frequently works with moosehide, granny hanky, glass beads and antler, and her use of discharged bullets makes her work distinctive. While earrings are the focal point of her creative practice, Blake also sews, making moccasins, slippers and parka covers. In 2023 she participated in CRAFTED: Show + Sale at Winnipeg Art Gallery-Qaumajuq in Manitoba.


Avery Keenainak, Keenan Carpenter, Christine Tootoo, Agaaqtoq and Natar Ungalaq performing the Sea Woman Poem in Kiviuq Returns: An Inuit Epic, Nuuk, 2018 PHOTO JAMIE GRIFFITHS / CHICKWEED ARTS

Keenan Carpenter

Keenan Carpenter is a drum dancer and actor born in Ikaahuk, Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT, and currently living in Iqaluit, NU. He has been drum dancing for over 17 years, learning as a child, and performed with the Inuvik Drummers and Dancers. Since then he has performed at several festivals and conventions across the Arctic, including at the Katuarpalaaq drum dancing festival in Nuuk, Kalaallit Nunaat (Greenland), in 2022. Carpenter made his acting debut in the 2019 Kalaallit Nunaat run of Kiviuq Returns: An Inuit Epic and has starred in an episode of The North Water (2021).


Inuk (Brendalynn Trennert) Cuff and Earrings (2022) COURTESY THE INDIGENOUS FASHION ARTS FESTIVAL © THE ARTIST


Inuk (Brendalynn Trennert) is an accomplished Inuvialuk multimedia designer based in Yellowknife, NT, who creates jewellery and textile work under her label Inuk360. She has been tufting since the 1990s and has recently brought on her mother, Julia Pokiak-Trennert, and older brother IngNing (Spencer Trennert) to create alongside her at Inuk360. Inuk uses her label to teach artmaking skills, such as moosehide tufting, and educate people on sustainable practices when using furs and hides. Among other events, Inuk participated in Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto, now Indigenous Fashion Arts Festival, in Ontario in 2018 and the TikTok Accelerator for Indigenous Creators program in 2022 alongside fellow Inuvialuk Willow Allen.


Agnes Kuptana Sealskin bag (n.d.) Sealskin and embroidery thread COURTESY NWT ARTS © THE ARTIST

Agnes Kuptana

Agnes Kuptana is a textile artist and educator based in Ulukhaktok, Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT. Representing Inuvialuit, she made one of the 263 blocks that make up the Quilt of Belonging (2005), a 36-meter-long quilt that represents Indigenous peoples around the world. The quilt was inaugurally exhibited at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, QC, in 2005. Kuptana learned to sew in her youth, and now she shares her skills and knowledge with younger generations by facilitating sewing workshops. She also shares her language and traditional land-based skills and knowledge, such as hunting and preparing hides, to ensure that future generations are able to continue important cultural practices. 

Brandon Larocque

Brandon Larocque also known as BrandonSonnet, is a musician born and raised in Inuvik, Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT, currently living in Nahanni Butte, NT. He draws inspiration from across the Arctic, describing his artistic community as “anywhere across the North.” In 2018 he created BrandonSonnet, the persona he is known as in the music world, and has released three albums that cover a range of genres: Odyssey (2020), which features electronic and alternative music; The Look Back Lounge (2022), lounge music; and The Beringia Theory (2022), a blend of Inuit and electronic music. His most recent album, Driftwood, was released in March 2024.


Dez Loreen performing at the Crack Up Comedy Fest (2022) PHOTO BOARD PRODUCTIONS

Dez Loreen 

Dez Loreen is a filmmaker, comedian and multidisciplinary performer from Inuvik, Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT. His film career took off in 2013 with the horror short Tiny, and since then he has directed 10 short films with the same production company between 2014 and 2020. His comedy career started in 2014 when he co-founded Inuvik Comedy with friends. Loreen’s comedic work often features stories about traditional Inuit culture and his lack of connection to Arctic skills. Loreen has performed in the Arctic Comedy Festival since 2021 and he performed in the Crackup Comedy Festival in 2022. He released his second comedy album, Into the High Arctic, in 2022, which features a collection of standup and comedy skits.

brian-rogers-sewingBrian Rogers Untitled (n.d.) COURTESY CBC © THE ARTIST

Brian Rogers 

Brian Rogers is a textile artist from Inuvik, Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT. He learned how to sew from his mother when he was a teeanger, and now he is well known for his beaded slippers and parka covers. He is also a sewing instructor at the Inuvialuit Cultural Centre in Inuvik, teaching all he knows to people interested in the practice. Rogers is also a long-time member of the Inuvik Drummers and Dancers; he became the lead singer in his youth and is a drum-making and drum-dancing instructor. Among other events, the Inuvik Drummers and Dancers performed at the inaugural National Gathering of Elders in Edmonton, AB, in 2017.  

3.Taalrumiq Unmasking Identity Pandemic Mask_Taalrumiq_ChristinaKing

Taalrumiq/Christina King Unmasking Identity (2021) Mixed media 43 x 30 cm © THE ARTIST

Taalrumiq/Christina King

Taalrumiq/Christina King is a widely known Inuvialuk and Gwich’in artist and designer from Tuktuyaaqtuuq (Tuktoyaktuk), Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT. Under her label, Taalrumiq, she melds traditional materials such as hide, bone, fur and sealskin with contemporary materials like sequins and glitter to create her colourful designs. She learned to sew from her mother and other community members, and she shares her knowledge through workshops and social media platforms—she was one of the participants in the inaugural TikTok Accelerator for Indigenous Creators program in 2021. Taalrumiq’s work has been included in several shows, including Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week in British Columbia in 2023 and Indigenous Fashion Arts Festival in Toronto, ON, this year.


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