Nine Pangnirtung mothers got to work sewing amautiit as 2018 began, and last month they put in their final stitches.
The project was driven by the community’s Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program coordinator Courtney Cox and her assistant Nina Tassugat. Normally, Cox and Tassugat organize evenings and special events for mothers.
“We do cooking, we did a Mother’s Day brunch. I get nurses to come in and health workers to talk about topics we’re supposed to cover,” said Cox.
Up to nine mothers attend the program, which runs three times a week, to discuss vaccinations, vitamins – such as vitamin D and iron – sexual health and breast feeding.
But Cox and Tassugut thought an amauti-making workshop would be a great idea.
“There was one in the past, a few years ago, so we wanted to do it again,” said Cox, adding she wasn’t sure the funding would support the cost.
“We have to break the funding down and we only have so much for extra, and that would be an extra.”
To deal with that, Cox and Tassug at took advantage of a big sale at the local Co-op.
“We went shopping when there were Christmas sales and Co-op had 50 per cent off all materials. We went on Boxing Day and bought all our material.”
In January, Cox said there were more than 30 interested, but they could only accommodate 10.
“We took the people who always participate – that was five of them. Then we had a draw for the other five spots,” she said, adding one mom is away to give birth and a spot is being held for her.
To qualify for a spot, the women had to be either pregnant, breastfeeding with babies less than two years of age, or bottle-feeding with babies less than 12 months.
Elder Hannah Akulukjuk, with some help from Jeannie Alivaktuk, taught the women for three hours twice a week in the evening, with a third evening added toward the end.
“Some ladies finished way ahead of others. But, those ladies also had no little babies,” Cox said.
The evenings were quiet and focused, but became more fun as the amautiit were nearing completion.
And Cox says when some of the women were away or their kids were sick, they missed the sewing.
“‘I can’t wait to go back to sewing,’ they said. ‘I miss sewing.’ ‘Can I come pick it up so I can do it at home.’ They were really eager to do it,” Cox said.
“And we always made supper, me and my assistant. Or side dishes or dessert.”