Inua (Mariam Imak) is a multidisciplinary artist from Kangiqsualujjuaq, Nunavik, QC, whose spiritually driven practice incorporates stone sculpture, tattooing, illustration, painting and beading. “I like to call it remembering,” [1] says Inua about the many mediums she explores. “I’m starting to remember how to work with different materials.” Her practice is rooted in the spiritual community “that [she] base[s] everything off of,” which includes land, earth and her ancestors.

Inua is predominantly self-taught, although she acknowledges fellow Nunavik artists Evie Mark and Arsaniq Deer were “pivotal” in teaching her about traditional tattooing practices. Her education at Nunavik Sivunitsavut in Montreal, QC, taught her some of the meanings behind the traditional tattoos, and Mark helped her connect those meanings to her own ancestors. She later served as Deer’s apprentice when they lived together, gaining hands-on experience in traditional handpoke methods. In addition to Deer and Mark, Inua is inspired by her siblings Samantha Ida David and Lana David, who create sewn work like mitts, parkas and tents. 

Like many traditional tattooists, Inua only inks tuniit and kakiniit on Inuit. However, she frequently collaborates with other customers to create linework, paw prints and other spiritually and culturally significant emblems of the person’s nation or their life experiences to commemorate their life stages. This practice carries over into her graphic art, where she typically portrays the people she draws or paints with markings based on their life. 

Inua also creates stone qulliq, sometimes incorporating crystal into the qulliq bases to enhance the energy of the piece. “Particularly when I’m done sanding and oiling the qulliq, it feels like it’s come to life,” she says of the practice, which she credits with helping to connect her with her ancestors and feel grounded. The repeated motions of beading also share some of these meditative qualities for her. 

Inua doesn’t have a favourite out of all these mediums, but rather is drawn to the different textures and forms of each. “It’s like cooking, bringing together different ingredients…What makes a good meal is the fusion of them all,” she says, emphasizing that for her they are all just different ways of expressing the same thing: accomplishments. Inua loves commemorating accomplishments in her work, driven to communicate that Indigenous peoples in Canada are surviving and thriving, even in the face of resistance. “Every accomplishment that an Indigenous person makes is huge…My being is an active resistance to colonial structures.”

In addition to her art, Inua has been extensively involved in Inuit educational initiatives. She served on the Youth Committee for the eighth annual Canadian Roots Exchange Gathering in 2020, and in 2021 received the Outstanding Service And Leadership Award from John Abbot College for her work on campus. She has also worked as a stunt performer with the Tupiq Arctic Circus Troupe. In the future, Inua has several people lined up for traditional markings, and hopes to take her tattooing practice to the next level by learning how to skin stitch.

This Profile was made possible through support from RBC Emerging Artists.

Artist Work

About Inua


Graphic Arts, Jewellery, Painting, Sculpture, Tattooing

Artistic Community:

Kangiqsualujjuaq, QC

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.