Charlie Avakana


Charlie Avakana was a carver and printmaker based in Kugluktuk (Coppermine), NU. Avakana was the son of George Avakana and Lena Avakana (née Klengenberg), and the grandson of famous Danish explorer and whaler Christian (Charlie) Klengenberg Jørgensen.

Avakana is best known for his carvings, which he shaped from bone and stone, frequently making highly decorative usable objects, such as cribbage boards, using a relief sculptural technique which he invented [1]. Untitled (Relief Carved Panel of Geese) (1963) is a good example, depicting five geese, two with wings outstretched, promenading across an antler which has been hollowed out to serve as background.

Circa 1965, Avakana carved a cross and candlesticks with miracles scenes—the feeding of 5000 and Jesus walking on water—for the altar of St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in Kugluktuk, using engraving and blacking [2].

Beyond carving, Avakana is credited with teaching his nephew Colin Adjun, now a decorated fiddler, how to play the instrument when Adjun was a child [3]. Avakana’s stonecut prints were featured in the print releases from Ulukhaktok (Holman), NT, and are now held in major institutions across Canada, including the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

Artist Work

About Charlie Avakana


Graphic Arts, Music, Sculpture

Artistic Community:

Kugluktuk, NU



Date of Birth:

Artists may have multiple birth years listed as a result of when and where they were born. For example, an artist born in the early twentieth century in a camp outside of a community centre may not know/have known their exact date of birth and identified different years.

February 23, 1935

Date of Death:

Artists may have multiple dates of death listed as a result of when and where they passed away. Similar to date of birth, an artist may have passed away outside of a community centre or in another community resulting in different dates being recorded.