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Sewing group strengthens Sanikiluaq's social fabric
Modern machines create economic opportunity

Emily Ridlington
Northern News Services
Published Tuesday, May 4, 2010

SANIKILUAQ - A program that began a year ago in Sanikiluaq as a way to help women socialize and practise their sewing skills could now turn into a profitable business.

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Annie Novalinga is able to do various size stitches and patterns on her quilting square by using the digital sewing machines. Novalinga participated in the Sanikiluaq sewing program in late February. - photo courtesy of Muhamud Hassan

Women in the community have been busy sewing and participating in what is known as the Sanikiluaq sewing program. Instructors from the south have come up twice to teach them how to use modern sewing machines with the latest session being held in late February.

The next steps for the program are to expand and formally create a society, set up a website and an account on eBay, said hamlet SAO Muhamud Hassan.

"We want to set up something so they (the women) can hopefully benefit at the end of the day," he said.

Program participant Betsy Meeko said she thinks this is an excellent idea as it would be a way for her and the other women in the community to make extra income.

Hassan said women in the hamlet had expressed interest in having something where they could gather socially while doing something constructive. The idea for the program was born and run by the hamlet with funds also coming from the local Co-op and the Kakivak Association. During the first session, it was expected that four or five women would attend, Hassan said. Approximately 40 women participated.

Attendance at the second session also exceeded expectations. During the workshop, women were shown by an instructor who came from Winnipeg how to use digital sewing machines.

"When we started people didnít know how to use the digital sewing machines. Now they are designing things and getting advanced teaching and coaching on techniques," said Hassan.

In this workshop, the women were shown how to use the machines to quilt.

"I thought you could never do it with a sew machine and I usually did it by hand," said Meeko, adding it went a lot faster with the machine.

Meeko and the other women in the group have made purses, blankets, hoodies, quilts, hats and many other items. She said it was exciting to see the project from start to finish knowing how much work went into it.

The group uses the chambers at the hamlet office or a space at the Co-op as their work room. Each machine is worth approximately $2,000 and Hassan said they hope to purchase more machines and hold several more workshops so the women can learn more techniques. The Co-op donates 99 per cent of the fabric used to make the various items.

Nellie Pearce, who participates in the program, said for her sewing is a way to relax and that she wishes she had more time to do it. She said the community has taken a special interest in the program as well as the ladies involved.

"The community is supportive and they are proud of us."

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