Somebody’s Daughter: Learning & Healing on the Land for Inuit Women
This program is specifically designed for Inuit women to learn traditional Inuit women’s skills of making clothing out of seal and caribou skins out on the land. It is also an opportunity to address healing needs of women from abuse or past childhood trauma; being out on the land also allows for women to fully focus on their needs and well-being and away from distraction of community living and daily responsibilities.
Somebody’s Daughter started in 2003 with multi-year funding from the Aboriginal Healing Foundation and was developed to address the healing needs of residential school survivors and those impacted by the legacy of residential schools.
A literacy component is included in the program as we live in a society today that value skills like reading and writing in order to obtain wage employment or further education in post-secondary institutions.
The women will learn to clean and prepare seal or caribou skins for clothing and work on projects of their choice. These skills are taught by elders and seamstresses and they are taught the traditional way of making custom made clothing using hand measurements.
Cleaning sealskins can take several steps depending on what kind of sealskin you require, qisiq (with the fur on) or nalauq/kiaktaq which is dehaired into white or maktaq/maktaliiq which is dehaired into black and this dehaired into black and this dehairing process also applies to bearded sealskins which is commonly used for soles of kamiit.
Kamik making can take time depending on the skill and ability of the kamik maker and the type of materials used whether it’s a sealskin or caribou legs.
Making clothing out of caribou takes a longer time as the tanning preparation of caribou skins can take up to 2-3 days alone in order to have it supple for sewing and depends on the project whether it is a pair of pants or an atigi (fur inside) or qullittaq (fur outside) and the complexity of design and size.
Mitts out of caribou legs or sealskins (with fur and dehaired) are the quickest projects to work on.
The learning of making traditional Inuit clothing such as atigi, qarliit, kamiit or mitts can be a very emotional process as it connects all of us to our ancestors knowledge; many women are often in awe of their parents, grandparents and their ability to survive the elements of the Arctic and its harsh environment as well as the increased pride in identity and self.
Writing as healing (literacy component) is held each evening, there are certain writing assignments that we deliver to get to the core of ourselves and once trust is established and women feel sage they often share painful stories that the have experiences and this starts the dealing process. Elder’s as counsellors are very effective and elders are respectful of the individual and have experiential knowledge they apply in many situations.