Grand parka exhibit on the way

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A new exhibit at the May Hakongak Community Library and Cultural Centre in Cambridge Bay will examine the evolution of the Inuinnait parka.

Annie Atighioyak, left, and Mabel Etegik, both elders-in-residence with the Kitikmeot Heritage Society, stand in front of the grand parka display that will soon be on exhibit at the May Hakongak Community Library and Culture Centre. Photo courtesy of the Kitikmeot Heritage Society

The unveiling of the exhibit, which will comprise six pieces, is expected to occur in the next couple of weeks, said Pam Gross, executive director of the Kitikmeot Heritage Society (KHS).

Although the early parkas fashioned by the Inuinnait – the Inuit of the Coronation Gulf – were made of caribou skin and sinew, as opposed to modern fabrics, some of the sewing practices have been retained, Gross noted.

None of the new exhibit pieces is historical, but elders were consulted and old photographs were scrutinized to recreate a traditional drum dance parka.

“We want to ensure that knowledge is being passed down,” Gross said.

The information and images will also be available online.

The KHS is also in the midst of shipping out 10 items that have been on loan from other museums. Those items have been exposed to a great deal of light and now need to go into a proper storage facility for preservation, said Gross. She added that new archival pieces will replace those, including crimped kamiik – drum dance boots with a slipper that goes over the sock. There are plans for a future crimped kamiik-making workshop and that will entail bringing in guests from Ulukhaktok who are more familiar with that footwear, according to Gross.

Annie Atighioyak prepares a 1930s-era outfit with a hand-crank sewing machine. Photo courtesy of the Kitikmeot Heritage Society.
A sunburst parka made for the Kitikmeot Heritage Society’s latest exhibit in Cambridge Bay. Photo courtesy of the Kitikmeot Heritage Society.