One of Kitikmeot’s most skilled seamstresses is this family from Kugluktuk and Uluhaktok. Here is far left: Kate Kanayok Inuktalik, her daughter Susie Evyagotailak, Granddaughter Doreen Evyagotailak, and Son-In-Law Joe Allen Evyagotailak at a fashion show in Inuvik. The style of parkas are also Alaskan Inupiat style of coats and footwear.
Navalik Tologanak/NNSL photo

Welcome to beautiful and cold Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, on Victoria Island, the eighth largest island in the world and Canada’s 2nd largest island. It is 83,897 square miles and on the same island further west is Ulukhaktok, so our island is split between NWT and Nunavut. So we have Inuinnait and Inuvialuit on Victoria Island. Inuit have lived here for thousands of years and have survived by good hunting and fishing, but now days the hunting of caribou is very scarce. We are the caribou Inuit, for hundreds of years there was so much caribou, plenty of good harvest back then, but not much now. Hope someday the caribou population will grow and grow for many years to come. 

We are also known in Cambridge Bay – the fishing village as we are very lucky to have an abundance of arctic char. Such healthy food. In the past, anyone was allowed to hunt for caribou and muskox and polar bear, but today our local hunter’s and trapper’s organization issues tags by picking out of a hat, just to be fair. So few residents were lucky to receive tags to go hunt caribou. This is done because the decline in caribou population and our HTO sets limits, like many other Inuit communities. Having caribou is such a treasure, it is like gold to us now. 

It is important for our Elders to be provided with country food, otherwise they get sick and lose their appetite and are not used to store bought food. This is why Inuit share their harvest always, it is like a common courtesy to do so. There is no tags issued for seal hunting, anyone can go seal hunting without a tag. 

My grandson and his friend and father were trying to go seal hunting towards mainland but had to turn back to town as there was still not frozen ice yet out on parts of the Arctic Ocean. With climate change happening fast in the North, it is becoming hard for hunters and fishers to travel out on the land and sea cause the weather is changing quickly and the sea is not fully frozen yet. So please be safe. The weather changes really has an affect on the Inuit, and I am sure it is happening also where our fellow Inuit live in Alaska, Russia, Norway, Greenland and us in Canada. But Inuit are always making solutions happen when something goes wrong or not. Very resourceful when they think of alternative ways to provide food from the land.  It was different types of weather when traveling to other communities in Nunavut and NWT. 

We find our weather in Cambridge Bay is always much colder than other places in Nunavut. But we Inuinnait are used to the cold weather compared to our neighbours across the Coronation Gulf in Kugluktuk. Their weather seems to be much warmer as they are on mainland Canada, and they even have more bush, grass is greener and they even have mini-trees there. 

With colder weather Inuit dress warm and make their own outdoor clothing such as parkas, pants, kamiit, mitts and hats. The most beautiful homemade craftsmanship. Some of the most beautiful fashions from anywhere in the world. In Siberia their outdoor clothes made from reindeer hides are the most beautiful styles. Today many use material fabric from stores and create awesome and unique clothing suitable for the weather. Many hand sewn or machine sewn products are available to purchase and is respected all over the world. 

It is known that you are rich family if you are dressed properly and well made outdoor clothes and footwear, it is because you are loved, your mother or grandmother are rich in the skills of being a good seamstress, you are not rich with money like millionaires and that, but rich family with beautiful home made clothing and footwear. Today it is important for Inuit females learn to sew and work on hides and how to prepare food. If females do not know how to sew they are taught or now days you can take sewing classes and courses. It is important skill to know how to sew and cook as an Inuit woman, just like our ancestors. 

I remember my late mother has the most beautiful sewings, most beautiful parkas and kamiks. Very delicate and colorful. I miss her and miss watching her sew. She would be sitting up sewing sometimes until 3 o’clock in the morning to get our parkas and kamiks done. We had a big family, lots of siblings, but she worked hard. I wish I had her beautiful talented skills of sewing, the most beautiful. Rest Mom. 

God Be With You Son.

Navalik Tologanak

Navalik Tologanak is a long-time community correspondent for Nunavut News, as well as an entrepreneur, born, raised and living in Cambridge Bay.

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