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Hands-on qamutiik
Kimmirut men learn how to make their own sleds

Casey Lessard
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, December 8, 2011

Seven Kimmirut men took home new qamutiit and some new skills after a week-long workshop to learn how to build the sleds in late November.

NNSL photo/graphic

Seven students took part in a qamutiik-making workshop in Kimmirut the week of Nov. 21. From left are teacher Pitseolak Qimirpik, students Aibilie Kolola, Tommy Akavak, and Donny Kolola, teacher Kolola Itulu, and students David Temela and Matthew Tikivik. - photo courtesy of Naomi Akavak

"I had a pretty good idea how to do it, but I wanted to learn from someone who knew how to make qamutiik," said Matthew Tikivik, 36.

Instructors for the workshop, which was run by the hamlet and funded by the Department of Culture, Language, Elders and Youth, included Pitseolak Qimirpik.

"I've been making qamutiik for a while," the first-time instructor said. "It's a good thing to have during winter, mostly for outfitters. I'm more likely to go out on the land hunting or camping with one. They're good for taking supplies and other things in the winter, especially in the small communities."

The workshop is the first of its kind for Kimmirut, although high schools offered instruction in qamutiik-construction a long time ago, program co-ordinator Naomi Akavak said. Students do not need to pay a fee and all materials are supplied for the sled, which they take home at the end of the workshop.

"We might have enough money to start another class after this one," she said. "I have done two projects under the same funding: one for tent making and one for qamutiik making. Those are the only two projects we've come up with so far."

An experienced qamutiik-maker can build one in two-and-a-half or three days, but a novice needs about four or five, she said.

"The hardest part is working on the bottom to make them easier to pull," Qimirpik said.

It's hard work, but Tikivik doesn't mind. He's looking forward to using his for caribou hunting and exploring the floe edge.

"I have helped build qamutiik in high school, but this is the first time I'm working on one on my own," he said, noting he'd love to have access to the high-quality materials used in the class to make more. As it progresses, as it starts to develop, it's a lot of fun. It gets more fun as we progress. I'd love to pass (the knowledge) on to my three boys.

"It will be enjoyed," he said.

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