Featured Artifact

The Kitikmeot Heritage Society will use this page to feature interesting and unusual artifacts from its collection.  In Inuinnait culture, artifacts are considered valuable not because of their material worth, but because of the stories, skills, memories and people connected to them. In re-telling the life history of these artifacts, we recognize them as living pieces of our community.

The parka featured in the images below was sewn in 1974 by May Hakongak, an Inuinnait woman dedicated to promoting traditional skills and knowledge in her home communities of Bay Chimo and Cambridge Bay.  This style of parka is originally from the western Arctic, but was introduced to Inuinnait in the Kugluktuk area by the Alaskan-born Kenmek Klengenberg in 1916.  With its white neckline patterns symbolizing walrus tusks and decorative sheared brown and white caribou fur patterning around the cuffs and hem-line, this fashionable parka style quickly caught on among local populations. By 1930, it was one of the dominant parka styles in the western Kitikmeot. This particular parka is made from summer caribou skin, with white caribou belly fur inlay and wolverine tassels and trim. The hood of the parka is trimmed in wolf fur and wolverine in a style commonly known as a ‘sunburst.’

The parka was purchased by Jude Dale in 1974 from the Co-Op in Cambridge Bay. Mrs. Dale later donated the parka, along with some other clothing pieces from Cambridge Bay, to the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver. In 1989, she requested that these items be transferred to the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre so that they could be closer to their home.

In 2012, Mrs. Dale contacted the Kitikmeot Heritage Society wondering if these items might be returned to Cambridge Bay so that the seamstress’ families and younger generations of Inuit might be able to access them. The Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre and the Kitikmeot Heritage Society negotiated the transfer of the parka back up to Cambridge Bay to be permanently stored in our museum.

In the summer of 2013, the parka was brought back home along with several other pieces of clothing made by prominent Cambridge Bay elders. The Kitikmeot Heritage Society held a ceremony for the relatives of the seamstresses who made these pieces. Emotions ran high as family members uncrated the items, and were re-united with the intricate sewing of their mothers, grand-mothers, and great-grandmothers. The parka is currently on display in the Kitikmeot Heritage Society as part of our new Arnaqtut women’s lives exhibit.