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New look for Kivalliq staple

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

Baker Lake (Dec 20/06) - A longtime staple of Kivalliq manufacturing unveiled a new look and fresh attitude in Baker Lake earlier this month.

The Jessie Oonark Centre (JOC) underwent almost $20,000 in renovations this past summer, including a facelift for its walls and retail area and a new freezer for meat and fish products added to its lineup.

The centre falls under the umbrella of the Nunavut Development Corp. (NDC) in Rankin Inlet.

NDC business advisor for arts and crafts Rowena House says in addition to bringing food products back to its retail lineup, the JOC has also increased production.

She says while the centre will continue the high standard of silkscreening it's known for, more attention will be paid to embroidery and other products.

"The embroidery was only added about two or three years ago, so we're going to concentrate a lot more on that," says House.

"We're also branching into melton products such as place mats, coasters and oven mitts, with the items available in matching sets.

"Melton is something like a duffle material that's well known as a sturdy product for kitchen use.

"Ivalu used to do it in Rankin, but the equipment for its production was moved to Baker about a year ago."

House says while melton products are the types of items that can be marketed successfully in the south, the JOC continues to receive a lot of Kivalliq orders for its T-shirts and embroidery work.

She says a number of regional businesses get their products done at the centre, rather than spend their money in Winnipeg or Toronto.

"The centre needed a bit of strengthening, so we had a new manager, Kevin Kelly, come on-board this past May to help us refocus our efforts and get everything back on track.

"Jessie (Oonark Centre) had slid a little bit with its production during the past few years, so we want to make up that lost ground and build upon it substantially.

"We're hoping our product expansion and the addition of food items such as caribou products from Rankin and muskox from Cambridge Bay will help us do that.

"Ultimately, we want the retail store to reach the point where it's comparable to Ivalu in Rankin and the sewing centre in Arviat."