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Miqqut delivers sewing, literacy skills in Rankin Inlet

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The popular Miqqut Program delivered by the Nunavut Literacy Council (NLC) came to a close with a colourful fashion show in Rankin Inlet this past week.

NNSL photo/graphic

Victoria Kakuktinniq models her kamiik and accessories during a fashion show to close the Miqqut Program in Rankin Inlet this past week.- Darrell Greer/NNSL photo

The four-month program began as a research project through the NLC with funding from the federal Office of Literacy and Essential Skills.

The NLC is using the program to study the effects of cultural context programs with embedded literacy skills.

The NLC's Adriana Kusugak said this year's program was structured to combine the teaching of traditional and modern sewing skills with embedded literacy skills and activities.

Kusugak said the NLC will spend the next year analyzing data to produce a research report.

She said the NLC also wants to produce a guide book to help communities establish their own programs.

"Cultural programs have been happening for years and, a lot of the time, literacy is part of it, but it just happens naturally," said Kusugak.

"Nobody's recording how to do them successfully.

"People are doing them, and doing them well, but when someone new wants to do a program, they're starting from scratch.

"So, the NLC wants to establish a guide book for communities to use as a resource to help them start this type of cultural program."

In total, 11 of the 15 who began Miqqut completed the program.

The students began each day by reading for 15 minutes, and then taking part in a variety of literacy activities.

Kusugak said many activities focus on how the participants can establish themselves, understand how they make decisions and where they lead, set goals and build self-confidence to reach them.

She said the Miqqut Program featured two literacy instructors and five elder sewing specialists.

"One of my jobs this year, as program co-ordinator, was to seek funding from other sources, and we were fortunate to receive help from the Department of Economic Development and Transportation through its arts development program.

"We also received funding from Sakku First Aviation and a reduced freight rate on some material we had to bring in.

"As far as the future of the program, when you see a group of women walk out with that kind of confidence and belief in themselves, why wouldn't you want it to continue?

"If we can handle it and come up with the funding, it would, definitely, be worth continuing, but that's not my decision to make."

Miqqut participant Aqpa Tattuinee said she joined the program because she always wanted to sew.

She said it also gave her a chance to learn more about Inuit culture and her own life through literacy activities.

"I learned a lot about myself when we did the Iglu of Life in the literacy activities, and the learning in this program never ends," said Tattuinee.

"Miqqut is very important to me because I have been taught to sew on my own, independently.

"It's important for us to keep the culture of sewing alive, and it gives us an opportunity to show our creativity with the help of the program instructors and staff.

"Rankin Inlet is lucky to have a program like this for the community."

Katherine Makkigak said she joined to learn how to make parkas and kamiik.

She said in addition to learning how to make leather and sealskin parkas, she also learned a lot of reading and writing skills through the literacy part of the program.

"This program was important to someone like me because I got to be part of a group where I could make friends and learn how to make so many beautiful things at the same time," said Makkigak.

"I'm thankful I was a part of the program because I believe it taught us to help each other, believe in ourselves, and that we can learn anything."

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