TikTok creating space for Inuvialuk content creator Taalrumiq

Christina King, better known as Taalrumiq on TikTok, is an Inuvialuk artist, designer and cultural educator based in the Northwest Territories. She uses her platform to share culture including; traditional clothes, art, fashion and design.

Two Row Times met with Christina over Zoom during National Indigenous History Month to hear some of her journey and experiences on TikTok.

Jace: Where do you live and where were you born?

Christina: I live in Tuktuuyaqtuuq in the Northwest Territories, Canada. I was not born here. At the time that I was born, it was standard practice to send women away from their home community to access healthcare services in larger centers. I was born in a segregated Indian hospital in Edmonton. My mom had to be flown a long way from her traditional lands to Alberta where I was born.

People are sometimes shocked to hear of segregated Indian hospitals in Canada but it was a real thing. I was born in one of those hospitals and it’s not that long ago.

Jace: How did you first hear about TikTok?

Christina: Well it was actually from my teenager when the pandemic started. I was wondering what she was doing on her phone all the time and I was wondering what she was doing and I needed to check it out. I downloaded the app and then I got hooked.

Jace: Out of all the social media platforms available what made you choose TikTok?

Christina: When I first got on there I was so happy to see all the representation and to see all the culture, tradition, singing, drumming, food, clothing. And I noticed right away that there was a real lack of Inuvialuit representation, which is common, we’re always underrepresented in various things. I never set out to be a content creator, but I thought, well, you know, I can show my traditional clothing that I have. And I’m an artist and fashion designer. So I thought, well, I could show some of the things that I’ve made and share a bit of my culture.

It quickly evolved from there. But what was motivating to me was thinking of my children, and thinking of Inuvialuit youth, when they’re gonna go on this app they’re gonna see all this great Indigenous content, but they’re not going to see Inuvialuit specific content. So that was what really encouraged me to start creating.

Christina King aka Taalrumiq on TikTok was born in a segregated Indian hospital in Edmonton. Submitted photo

Jace: Can you tell us a little bit about your content and what you create?

Christina: So I share Inuvialuit history, culture, our daily life experiences, my art, fashion, design and our humour. I take popular trends, and I’ll do it with an Inuvialuit spin or an Inuvialuit twist because I’m always thinking of my community.

Jace: How large is your community?

Christina: Tuktuuyaqtuuq there are about 1,000 people. The whole Inuvialuit population as a whole, within the Inuvialuit settlement region and beyond, I believe we are around 7,500. We’re a very small population. Over half our population was wiped out due to smallpox and the flu epidemics about 100 years ago. So all of us who are here today descend from survivors. Many of our grandparents, and great-grandparents were children in those times.

Jace: Has TikTok helped create a space for Indigenous people to share their own stories without any sort of colonial narrative?

Christina: Oh, absolutely. I feel like now in this time, our voices and our stories and our experiences are finally being heard and valued and sought after. And this is a great opportunity for all of us to tell our stories from our experiences.

My community; we’ve always been studied, we’ve always been researched, people have written books and made documentaries and published papers and academic journals about us, and they become experts on us. But really we are the experts. You know, we live this culture, this is who we are as a people. Having this platform there’s an ability to reach a global audience who wants to hear what we have to say.

Jace: How does where you are from influence what you share online?

Christina: Sometimes I create videos and content that I’m thinking just people in my town will see and resonate with, but it actually seems to appeal to a broader audience. And I guess, just sharing the landscape of my community, things like when the sun went away in the winter and we wouldn’t see it again for a couple of months. And now we have 24 hours of sunlight. This is new to a lot of people around the world. Other northern communities will experience the same thing. So they’ll totally understand where I’m coming from. But it’s a great opportunity just to share our way of life with the world.

Jace: What is your goal on TikTok?

Christina: Well, as I said, I had never planned to become a content creator. But I had a great opportunity with TikTok Canada, and the National Screen Institute of Canada, where I was one of 28 content creators selected from across Canada, for their very first accelerator program for Indigenous creators.

Christina King aka Taalrumiq on TikTok has almost 90 thousand followers on the app and uses the platform to educate and inform. Submitted photo

So it was a six-week intensive training program to help us with the steps of storytelling, you know, how to edit and frame your shots, all these types of things, just to help us improve the quality of our video and the content that we’re putting out there.

My goal is to continue sharing Inuvialuit culture, just continue creating videos so that my children, my youth, they feel represented. Inuvialuit youth are going to see themselves, they’re going to see their clothing and hear stories about their culture. And they’re going to relate to that and resonate with that.

Jace: Can you explain the meaning behind your handle Taalrumiq?

Christina: Taalrumiq was my great-grandmother. At birth, I was named by local elders in my community, they gave me my great-grandmother’s name, and she was named after her grandmother. So it’s an ancestral family name. And for many years, I wasn’t very proud. There was a lot of shame. You know, if you know the history of Inuit our names were taken from us and we were given numbers as official government identities. And just for me to, in my adult years, really say, well, you know what that is my name. It was given to me the traditional customary way, I’m going to use it, reclaim it and be proud of it. And I think just by doing that as I said earlier, it might encourage others to do the same, to reclaim our identity and those pieces that were taken from us.

Jace: Was there any specific content creator on TikTok that made you realize there was room for you want to start posting?

Christina: So when I came across native TikTok, Indigenous TikTok, Notorious Cree, you know, him sharing his regalia and his dancing, I thought that was just the coolest thing. And seeing Sherry McKay educate and use these opportunities to share humour, and everything that she does. And indigenous_baddie too. She was doing some pretty cool stuff. So just seeing what they were doing, I was never thinking that I’m going to be as amazing as they are. But I thought, well, I’m just gonna have fun with it and share on my Facebook, where I’m connected to my community members. It just kind of took off from there.

Jace: What are the videos you have the most fun creating?

Christina: When I have time I love to do multigenerational skits. So I create original skits that just show different generations of an Inuvialuit family. One that comes to mind is the video I did when we start traditional dancing. So it shows like, you know, different aunties, uncles, grandparents, even our ancestors are proud. I love doing those skits with different characters. It’s a lot of fun. It’s a great creative outlet for me, and I enjoy those a lot.

Jace: What tips would you give a small content creator trying to grow?

Christina: Don’t get discouraged. There are going to be times when you work so hard on a video, and it just doesn’t get any leverage. Don’t give up. We’re in this for the long haul. Some people do achieve success overnight, but it’s just something you got to work at. And you have to love what you’re doing. I don’t get paid for any of my content, I do it in my spare time. And I do it because I love it. And I believe it’s so important. So that’s what keeps me going. So you have to love what you’re doing. Be yourself, be honest, and just keep at it.

Jace: Whats next for you if TikTok disappears forever tomorrow morning?

Christina: I’ll probably have a break, enjoy my coffee. At the end of the day, you know, it is social media, it’s not real life. I still have my family and my community. And my friends, those are all very important aspects of my life. If social media is no more tomorrow, it’s kind of too bad. But then I think people will have time to really connect with family and back into nature.

Jace: Any last comments?

Christina: I guess sometimes it can feel overwhelming when you get a lot of attention, or a video does really well, and there’s no real guidance or support on how to navigate when that happens. And then you feel sort of pressure to keep following up with more amazing videos. I think just remember that it is social media and we’re showing what we want to show you.

Follow Christina on TikTok @taalrumiq.

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