• Feature

Jimmy Kalinek

30 Artists to Know

Nov 24, 2017

For our 30th anniversary issue, the IAQ asked 15 leading figures in Inuit art to nominate an early-career artist to watch. In turn, those artists selected a senior talent who has inspired them. The result is “30 Artists to Know”, an expansive portfolio exploring the intergenerational, familial and community-based bonds that are made visible through art.

Jimmy Kalinek
b. 1980
Inuvik, NT

Inspired by the presence of the Suurimmaanitchuat Dancers from Utqiaġvik (Barrow), Alaska, for the 2009 Traditional Circumpolar Northern Games in Inuvik, Jimmy Kalinek started to look toward drum dancing. Born and raised in Inuvik, Jimmy approached the Inuvik Drummers and Dancers, whom he says have always been a part of his culture and his life here in the Arctic. Jimmy embarked on this new endeavour with the utmost commitment by practising every day, recording and reviewing videos of himself drum dancing. This dedication has lead to him becoming a keystone member of the Inuvik Drummers and Dancers as well as to having the experience of performing at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, BC. His career as the proprietor of Only Way Outfitting intertwines with his role as a drum dancer: both skills recognize and prioritize a traditional way of life. Both drum dancing and being on the land draw from a rich Inuvialuit family history; a legacy, which in turn Jimmy passes onto his son. – Marie Horstead


Members of the Barrow Dance Group Sheldon Adams IIIKennedy Elavgak and Vernon Charles Elavgak perform at Kivgiq, in Utqiaġvik, 2015
Suurimmaanitchuat Dancers
founded in 1990
Utqiaġvik, AK

Drum dancing has always been a part of my culture; I grew up watching it and listening to it. I had a feel for it even before I started to practice. One year, when we had the Northern Games in Inuvik, a contingent came from Utqiaġvik, to participate. I watched the Suurimmaanitchuat Dancers perform from the side of the stage, and I still remember watching one young fellow; he must have been about 10 years old. I couldn’t stop watching the way that he was moving and keeping up with the beat. You could tell his love for the dance was really strong and the passion he had was very moving. Watching that young boy moved me and inspired me to dance like him.

I attended the first practice of the Inuvik Drummers and Dancers after the Northern Games ended that year and have been dancing ever since. There are a few people who continue to influence my dancing, especially my uncle Roy Ipana, who was really important to me and to this town. He had a true passion for his culture—I seem to follow that. Drum dancing makes me feel like I have been accomplishing something for my culture. I’m still learning, but I’ll never stop learning. – Jimmy Kalinek

Marie Horstead
Horstead is the Executive Director of the Great Northern Arts Festival in Inuvik, Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT. Horstead is a practicing fibre artist who has been working to highlight and support emerging artists in the region for the past two years through the festival and related activities.  

These profiles appeared in the Fall 2017 issue of the Inuit Art Quarterly.

Suggested Reads

Related Artists