A holiday hamper of homemade hats and scarves will help those in Inuvik cope with homelessness, thanks to the creativity of two women in the Jasper Artists Guild.

They were crafted by Jasper, Alta. residents Louise Hayes and Carolyn Fysh, brought to town by guild president Christina Martin and distributed to members of Inuvik Warming Centre and Inuvik Homeless Shelter by volunteers of the recently dissolved Inuvik Warming Shelter society.

“The inspiration for this project came entirely from Christina,” said Hayes. “She was moving to Inuvik and asked me if I would like to have her wool, no strings attached, she didn’t want it back.

“Since all of her wool was in individual balls, of different colours, weights and sizes, I couldn’t think of anything to do with it, except to make hats and scarves.”

Established in 2001, the Jasper Artists Guild supports the arts across the rocky mountains in Alberta and British Columbia. Martin, who lived in Inuvik from 2004 to 2011 and recently returned, worked with the guild when she lived in Jasper from 2019 to 2021.

Martin said the credit went entirely to her peers in Jasper.

“They’re actually a lovely quality,” she said. “I had nothing to do with planning this. It’s honestly just the goodwill of these two ladies in Jasper who decided to do this for the Arctic. It’s absolutely wonderful that they would come up with the idea.”

Martin covered half the postage to get the homemade clothes to Inuvik and originally offered them to the Inuvik Warming Shelter society. The society dissolved on Nov. 20 as its primary purpose of overseeing the shelter’s operations have been taken on by NWT Housing Corporation. Former society member Miki O’kane connected her with the current shelter’s management and the goods were distributed by Warming Shelter staff.

Admitting the attention was embarrassing, Fysh said she got involved in the project for fun.

“It really wasn’t a big deal,” she said. “It was Louise’s idea. Christina had given her a small stash of leftover yarn. You know, bits and pieces from various projects. It wasn’t enough to do anything really big with, but good for small projects. Louise thought a good use for the yarn would be to make it up into hats etc. for Christina to pass along to anyone in need.

“Once I saw what Louise was doing I offered to help. It was kind of fun really. We had a little time, some bits and pieces of yarn, and we were able to whip up a few hats. I have always enjoyed crocheting and hats are really quick projects. Some of the yarn was wool.

”Those hats will be the really warm ones. Some of it was acrylic, so not quite as good but still better than nothing in a cold wind. It was fun to take a small amount of yarn and mix and match the colours to make them as nice as possible. I imagined the kind of person who might pick out each hat as I made them. I sure hope it makes a small difference for someone.”

Fysh said she was working on two big projects, an Icelandic sweater and an Afghan blanket, but added she could use leftover yarn for another hat in the future.

Hayes said she was inspired to keep working on projects and had new projects in mind for people in need throughout the year.

“Knitting is easy and I can find some time for it,” she said. “Thank you to Christina for the wool and the inspiration for this project.”

Eric Bowling

Your source for all things happening in the Beaufort Delta. Eric jumped at the chance to write for the Inuvik Drum after cutting his teeth in Alberta. He enjoys long walks, loud music and strong coffee....

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