You’re always in a position to learn something new.
Just ask Richard Selamio, who is spending this week learning how to make his own traditional parka at Hope House.
“It’s deadly,” he said. “Every day is a new learning experience. This is a first time for me, but it probably won’t be the last.
“I appreciate the IRC and everyone involved for bringing this to us.”
Selamio is one of five men learning to build the warm winter covers as part of a pilot project to help the region’s unhoused empower themselves.
Under the watchful eye of Elder Manogali aka Wilma Dosedel, the group are learning everything from selecting the right materials to tailoring their own fabric to finally sewing the clothes together.
“Men need to learn to sew,” she quickly said while jumping from table to table, offering corrections and directions. “It’s just like I need to know how to hunt and gather wood.”
Dosedel is being assisted in teaching the workshop by her protege, Brian Rogers.
Throughout the room, the budding tailors were grateful for their services.
“It’s something new to learn,” said Richard Rogers. “It feels really good.
“Sewing isn’t just for women.”
Organizer Sharon Rogers said the workshop started March 6 and would continue on until March 10, when all the work is completed.
The garb is a traditional pullover similar to a hunter’s parkie, with a half-zipper on the chest to help cool off when the weather heats up.
Each participant was able to select their own pattern, so each individual coat will be unique to its maker.
“We used quilted material for the inside,” she said. “And we use a waterproof cover for outer. Everything to do with sewing, they’re doing it.
“It brings a lot of pride to people to make their own product. With their own hands, they have to measure and see how it fits them before they even start cutting. They can make it as long or as short as they want, it’s up to them.”
Sharon Rogers said if the project is successful, she was hoping to do more workshops in the future.
She added she was interested to host a workshop for women living in shelters next.
“We’ll see. It stays cold here for awhile,” she said. “I can’t believe how much feedback and expressions of how people are happy this is happening.
“It brings a spirit of pride and encouragement to keep doing this. I hope we can continue.”