Bring the past back to life
Movie biz keeps local Iqaluit seamstresses busy

by Janet Smellie
Northern News Services

NNSL - Several Iqaluit seamstresses have their hands full trying to recreate the Inuit clothing of their ancestors for a new television movie now being shot in the town.

Glory and Honor will tell the story of the man who assisted explorer Robert Peary to the North Pole in 1909.

Busy in pre-production, the film will air on Turner Network Television in 1998.

"We're buying some clothes already made and altering them to look like clothing worn by the Peary expedition people," says Elipasee Davidee, co-ordinator of the costume-making project.

Polar bear, caribou and seal, she says, are just some of the materials the women are working with.

"It's a lots of work, really exhaustive work. With day one of the shooting scheduled for April 28, we're pretty busy, but determined that we will meet our deadline."

While Davidee has worked before with casting for films shot in Iqaluit, this is the first time she's been involved with wardrobe.

"I sew and design a little bit, but it's mostly the seamstresses that are very used to working with the skins that are doing the work. Just softening the skins is a lot of work and a long process in itself," Davidee says.

Historical books that include pictures taken during the expedition have been a great help, she adds. "The clothing is a lot like the Greenlandic people wore with polar bear jackets being popular."

Davidee, who's vice-president of Tatigiit Development Inc., a business that offers everything from consulting to construction, says that on average four seamstresses per day are working with her to create the wardrobe.

"It's employment, although it's short-term. We're also buying a lot of garments from local people who had caribou clothing, kamiks, things they no longer were wearing, so it's helping everybody."

The job will also include being on hand during the film to ensure any needed repair work will get done properly.

As for the ultimate fate of all the costumes, Davidee says some will go back to Montreal to "be kept in a very cold place so they're preserved."