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Sewing up the future

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Wednesday, March 14, 2007

CORAL HARBOUR - A program aimed at keeping traditional skills alive wrapped up in Coral Harbour this past Friday, March 9.

Instructors Annie Netser, 74, and Peecee Nakoolak, 60, who both have extensive sewing experience, came up with the idea of a kamik-sewing program in Coral.

Netser was once flown to Rankin Inlet to teach a similar program.

Amy Duffy was a casual employee working as Coral's wellness co-ordinator at the time, so she helped co-ordinate the program, which began in early February.

Duffy said the two elders had a strong desire to hold a kamik-making program in Coral because it had been held in a number of other Kivalliq communities.

She said the program was funded through Brighter Futures after being approved by hamlet council, the Coral wellness committee and the regional wellness co-ordinator in Rankin.

"They were seeking more money so the program could run longer, but funding was short this close to the end of the fiscal year," said Duffy.

"Once they had the money, they purchased sealskins from community members and held four-hour classes, five days a week, at the A and E building."

The elders wanted to teach 30- to 40-year-old women how to make kamiks so they could pass on the skills to the younger generation.

Some in the class were relative newcomers to kamik making, while others were more experienced.

With Duffy providing translations, Nakoolak said kamik making will always be a valuable skill in the Arctic.

"It will always be cold in the Arctic, so there will always be a need for kamik making," said Nakoolak.

"Because the need will never end, it is important to teach the younger ladies how to make kamiks so they can pass on Inuit culture by teaching our youth."

As of press time, Emma Netser had made two pairs of kamiks for her kids, while Nancy Emiktout, Eva K. Nakoolak and Mary Nakoolak had each completed one pair.

Lizzie Noah, Basheba Kolit, Jean Paliak, Hannah Angootealuk, Tayarak Nakoolak and Miki Eetuk were to finish during the final class or take them home to complete.

Duffy said everyone enjoyed the experience and they are proud of their efforts.

"Both instructors are happy to have had the chance to run this program in their own community," said Duffy.