A sewing program being operated by the Pulaarvik Kablu Friendship Centre (PKFC) is gaining popularity and posting great early results in Rankin Inlet, says an organizer.
PKFC executive director Charlene Williams-Kaludjak said the friendship centre started by launching the amautik-and-snuggly program in August.
She said the program is funded through Indian Residential School Survivo
rs money the PKFC receives through its agreement with Health Canada.
“I met with people from Health Canada to talk about what the agreement entails and what I’m allowed – and not allowed to do – with that funding,” said Williams-Kaludjak.
“I started throwing ideas at them and they said this program is culturally related, so if it’s something they missed out on when they were attending residential school, it’s got something to do with their culture and identity, and you know it’s something the community has a demand for, then why wouldn’t I use that money to fund it?
“So, once we realized we were able to fund these types of programs with the money we had at Pulaarvik, it was, OK, let’s do something.
“One of our employees said she knows women are wanting to be taught how to make auautik, so we ran the program”
The August program was followed by a first intake of
students on a two-week course from Nov. 25 to Dec. 6 focused on amautik and parkas.
The sewing program’s first intake had eight participants attend in the daytime, with eight more attending in the evenings due to employment or previous commitments which prevented them from participating during normal daytime business hours.
The daytime program ran from Monday to Friday while the evening schedule saw sessions held on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.
The participants held a light lunch this past Friday, Dec. 6, at the Kivalliq Counselling Services building to close out the program and display their finished projects.
A second student intake focused on winter clothing just began.
The instructors for the PKFC 2019 Winter Sewing program are Aline Kabvitok, Amanda Ford-Rogers, Corrine Pilakapsi and Paula Autut.
The students keep the clothing articles they sew during the two-week course, while instructors also sew winter parkas the friendship centre plans to give to Income Support employees to distribute among clients who are in need of them.
The participants who completed the program’s first winter intake are Violet Inukshuk, Sandra Ford, Nancy Papak, Sakitnaaq Tugak, Pelagie Kritaqliluk, Karen Stoney, Collette Nilaulak, Leanne Charlie, Angel Inukshuk, Nefretiri Inukshuk, Vanessa Inukshuk, Tamera Amarok, Ann Noolook, Erin Kaludjak and Madeline Anawak.
Williams-Kaludjak said all the women who wanted to make amautik seemed to turn to Kabvitok when they needed help and she, in turn, turned out to be a natural teacher.
She said the other three instructors help participants make parkas.
“We have some amazing instructors and the ladies finished their projects during the first two-week intake, which was a mixed group as far as individual sewing talents and abilities were concerned.
“We had a 14-year-old who attended during the evenings in the first intake. We had mothers of two or three children make amautik, and we had mothers whose children are expecting kids of their own right now making amautik and parkas, so we had a crazy range of participants.
“I would say a program is being successful when participants ask if there’s any more they can take to sew different things.”
“We’ve piqued their interest, our second intake began this week and, after Christmas, in January of 2020, any participant interested in learning to make hunting clothing for use out on the land, can join another intake at that time.”
Williams-Kaludjak said the friendship centre will definitely be continuing the program for the near term, at least, and it’s being expanded into other communities.
She said one cultural-support workers is just completing a parka-making program in Naujaat.
“We also have an employee in Chesterfield Inlet who is going to starting a mitt-making program very soon – this week or next.
“She just found out what evenings are available this month in Chester to start the program.
“So, overall, we’re very pleased with where the program is right now and the success the ladies are enjoying while participating in it.”