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Unique program provides skills and healing

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, November 5, 2008

ARVIAT/RANKIN INLET - A group of women from across the Kivalliq spent some time on the land near Rankin Inlet recently to learn traditional skills and come closer together as people.

The women were participating in the Somebody's Daughter program, which was sponsored by the Kivalliq Inuit Association (KIA) and developed and designed by Inuit women and elders.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Annie Ollie of Arviat, front, and Dorothy Aglukark and Margaret Pudlat, back right, work at softening a caribou skin in preparation for sewing during the recent Kivalliq Inuit Association's Somebody's Daughter program on the land near Rankin Inlet. - photo courtesy of Pujjuut Kusugak

The program is funded by the Aboriginal Healing Foundation and is designed to meet the needs of women in addressing family violence or abusive situations they are challenged with.

Somebody's Daughter focuses on healing needs and provides an opportunity for Inuit women to take time for themselves to learn.

The women develop traditional sewing, skin cleaning and tanning skills and work on developing their literacy skills.

Annie Ollie of Arviat participated in the most recent edition of the 10-day program.

She said it was very helpful, enlightening and informative.

"I was one of the first participants in Somebody's Daughter when it started about five years ago," said Ollie.

"The program has helped me increase my self-esteem and feel better about myself and my capabilities.

"I'm a person without a mother, so that often leaves me without anyone to guide me with traditional skills such as sewing, skinning and tanning.

"The program has very, very good instructors who, in a lot of ways, replaced my mom in helping me learn important traditional skills."

Ollie, 46, said the program helps fill an important void when it comes to the participants who no longer have a mother or grandmother.

She said people may not always realize it can be difficult to learn traditional skills if you're an Inuit woman with no one to guide you.

"I'm not the type of person who takes a course and then that's it.

"I'm still learning on my own in Arviat, but now I seek more advice from elders.

"I have a husband and four sons, and I'm responsible for providing them with warm clothing."

Ollie said many of the women at the latest program grew quite close.

She said the women bond during the camp and many of them stay in touch long after the program ends.

"We talked a lot during the program and our breaks, and we would often go pick blueberries together.

"I stay in contact with some of the participants and I just had a lady from Coral Harbour who was in the program stay at our home when she was in Arviat to attend the music festival this past month.

"Others I stay in touch with by email."

Ollie said she focused on working with caribou instead of sealskin during her time in the Rankin program.

She said she has increased her traditional skills to the point where she finished making a caribou parka.

"I would recommend Somebody's Daughter to other women in the Kivalliq.

"I would like to apply again next year because that would give me the chance to concentrate on sealskin.

"I've become confident in the way my skills are developing and I'd like to continue on and maybe become an instructor in coming years.

"My family and I are very thankful to the KIA and all the instructors, and I hope it becomes a yearly program."