TRADITIONAL SEWING
AND SKIN PREPARATION

In Inuinnait culture, the skills of sewing and skin preparation are both an artistic endeavour and a matter of survival. Inuinnait girls learn from a very early age that being an accomplished seamstress is a highly valued talent. Under the guidance of their mothers and grandmothers, they are instructed in skin preparation, pattern development, sewing, and the care of clothing. While men are also trained as sewers, the art remains firmly anchored in women’s worlds.

The Pitquhirnikkut Ilihautiniq / Kitikmeot Heritage Society runs annual community and educational programs and workshops centred around Inuinnait traditions of skin preparation and sewing. While these programs aim to build knowledge and experience in a traditional art form, they also seek to to increase confidence through cultural identity, develop Inuinnaqtun language skills, and forge stronger intergenerational relationships. Our programs partner experienced Elders with community members belonging to a variety of programs and life stages. Regular programming and workshops include: 

  • instruction in creating patterns and fitting clothing;

  • workshops on selecting and preparing skins for sewing projects;

  • teaching young mothers to create amautis and atataaqs (clothing specifically designed for carrying infants);

  • courses in making scrapers, ulus and sewing kits;

  • group workshops in creating wallhangings;

  • traditional doll making programs;

  • programs exploring sewing as a economic pursuit;

  • instruction in sewing machines and modern techniques.

Mary Kaniak uses caribou sinew to stitch a pair of waterproof boots.

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