Taalrumiq/Christina King (née Gruben) is an Inuvialuk and Gwich’in artist, fashion designer, content creator and cultural educator who shares Inuvialuit culture with the world. Creating original Inuit fine art, Inuvialuit couture, and compelling educational and humorous digital content, she inspires others to reclaim and celebrate Indigenous identity while encouraging the healing of intergenerational trauma.
Born to an Inuvialuk mother and Gwich’in father at a segregated Indian hospital, she grew up in Tuktuuyaqtuuq (Inuvialuit Settlement Region), NT with her Inuvialuit family and community, immersed in Saliqmiut (Coastal Inuvialuit) culture. She was gifted an ancestral family name at birth by local Elders in the customary Inuvialuit way. She is named after her great-Naanak, Taalrumiq (English name Mary Gruben), who was named after her naanak. In the tradition of her long matrilineal line of expert Inuit seamstresses and her Gwich’in bloodline, Taalrumiq creates with the same talent, skills, passion and traditional materials as her ancestors, reimagining Inuvialuit tradition with a contemporary vision.
Growing up in Tuktuuyaqtuuq, she graduated high school while living at Grollier Hall Residential School in Inuvik (Inuvialuit Settlement Region), NT, winning the Governor General’s Academic Award. She earned a Journeyman Red Seal Certificate in Hairstyling and later completed a double degree program at the University of Alberta, earning a Bachelor of Science in Human Ecology degree and a Bachelor of Education degree, with various scholarships and awards throughout her time at the U of A. Rather than pursuing a professional career, she became a stay-at-home mother for the next decade, maintaining her skills by sewing for her young family, fulfilling custom mitten and mukluk orders and taking art and professional development classes. It wasn’t until 2019 that she had the courage to present herself professionally and publicly as an artist and designer and eventually expanded online to
Her work has been featured in various print, and online publications as well as national art exhibits across Canada and is in various corporate and private collections. Inuvialuit Fortitude, a set of sealskin pandemic masks, are currently featured in Breathe. exhibit and The bounty of our land, a beaded pandemic mask with sealskin walrus tusks, is featured in Breathe. II exhibit. Her sealskin mask, Unmasking identity: Reclaiming Inuit identity in modern times, is part of the permanent collection at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.
As part of the inaugural National Screen Institute of Canada’s Tiktok Accelerator for Indigenous Creators program in 2021, she learned effective storytelling techniques and content creation strategy through a short video format. Through Tiktok, she educates, engages and informs a global audience about what it means to be a contemporary Inuvialuk.
As one of ten fashion designers in the 2022 Indigenous Haute Couture Fashion Residency program at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, Taalrumiq created a luxurious sealskin vest, fox fur puff skirt and shawl, recently featured as part of her Inuvialuit couture collection at the Adäka Cultural Festival in Whitehorse, YT and the Crafted Fashion Show in the prestigious WAG-Qaumajuq gallery in Winnipeg, MB.
In the 2022 Pow Wow Pitch, Taalrumiq was among 2400+ Indigenous entrepreneurs pitching to win prize money to grow her business. Advancing to the semi-finals, she was a runner-up in the Fashion Category, winning a $1000 Aritzia fashion grant. From there, family, friends and fans voted to get her a spot in the finals in the People’s Choice component, in which she won the $1000 People’s Choice Award and advanced to finals. Of the 25 finalists, Taalrumiq was the only Inuk. While she did not win the top prizes, she won a $5000 Alumni prize to go toward building her brand and growing her business: Taalrumiq, an art, fashion and cultural consultation business.
Along with her husband, their five children and their dog Munaqsi, they divide their time between her home community of Tuktuuyaqtuuq and Northern BC in the traditional Tsimshian territory.