Inuit and Fashions

The Inuit of the Canadian north are one tough race of people. Living in an environment that can reach the maximum coldness of -65 degrees Celsius with the wind chill factor.

During the years before the arrival of explorers, the Hudson Bay Company, RCMP and the missionaries, all clothing the Inuit wore were made of fur. After all that’s all that was available at the time.

Even the sewing equipment were made from animal bones and skins. Inuit women designed the amauti which is so practical in the north. When you amaq the child, the child is still touching you while you are free to do what ever you have to do that day. This is the true beauty of the amauti. The one carrying the child feels like the child weighs less in the amauti, if the amauti is made properly.

Well fitting clothes were acquired from early teaching from mother to daughter usually starting around the age of three.

Custom fitting has been a long tradition of the Inuit. It has always been important so no cold air creeps through anywhere. In mid-winter the only skin that should be exposed is your face.

For this reason Inuit clothing had to be made just the right size. If too tight there was tendency to get cold fast as one needs good flow of blood while clothing too big has the same consequence, but this time from the cold air having room to creep in.

The caribou skin was used for amauti and it usually takes two hides. The caribou skin pants for a woman take one hide and the legs of the caribou are made into foot wear and mitts, as the legs are more water resistant.

Caribou to be used for clothing is hunted only in the early fall, in the Kivalliq Region that is usually the end of August into the early part of September.

Why at this time only, because it is very important to have the right thickness or thinness. At this time of season the caribou`s hair is done shedding and only good strong hair remains, ensuring warmth and duration.

The caribou played an important role in our lives. The meat, stomach, brain, tongue, liver, kidneys Are eaten while the back muscles are made into sinew threads.

In the winter everyone is wearing two layer caribou clothing. The footwear if sealskin. The sealskin boots are water proof. It`s all in the stitching and the type if thread used.

The sealskin becomes many things for the Inuit. Inuit had tent made from seal and caribou skins. I myself don`t recall seeing one, though the qarmaq (sod house) my dad Marc Tungilik built, has it`s foundation of rocks still standing at Piqsimaniq, a place now a national park in Canada, called Ukkusiksalik National Park of Canada.

The whole family wore sealskin kammiit. The dog`s carrying cases and blubber storage cases were made of sealskin. The man besides his kammiit had a rain coat, mitts and pants of sealskins. The man wore out his kammiit the fastest from hunting by walking in the summertime and generally from never stopping until bed time.

The women and children wore the soles out too as all children were expected and encouraged to play outdoors daily.

The woman wears hers out from constant walking as well. Fetching water is a daily chore. Most Inuit are coastal people so we had a tendency to tent close to the sea for easy access to boating.

The baby`s had is made from caribou skin. when a child is big enough to be clothed, they are dressed in fawn, two layers in a jump suit. Thee are from neck to toes, as the socks are attached to the jump suit.

The Inuit in those days used bearded seal skin for the sole of the kamik.

Today in this material world, our fashions have evolved with time. We sew mostly fabric clothing.

Theresie Tungilik