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Iglulik makes pitch for craft shop

When a cruise ship arrived in Iglulik over the summer and passengers went door-to-door in search of crafts, Greg Morash decided to seek a solution.

Jewelry-maker Mosha Arnatsiaq and other Iglulik artists could have a place to sell their wares if the hamlet is successful in obtaining funding for a craft shop. NNSL file photo

Morash is working on an application to the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency for a feasibility study for a craft shop, which the community of 1,680 residents currently lacks.

"If we can get the feasibility study this year and it looks like it's good, then it's easier to get the money faster next year to do the work we need to get done," Morash said.

The feasibility study would help determine whether it makes more sense to erect a new building or convert an existing building in the community, he said.

Justin Ford, programming director with the Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association, applauded the Hamlet of Iglulik's efforts to obtain funding for a craft shop, which would give tourists a destination to purchase art other than possibly the local Northmart or Co-op.

"We're always really happy to hear there's interest in the communities to develop programming or infrastructure like that," Ford said. "It is very much needed across the territory, in all the communities, to have a safe space to work and to sell (artists') work."

Ford added that having artists and crafts-makers working in a craft shop could help create a stronger connection with potential buyers.

"Anyone that buys a piece of artwork, especially if you're going to invest in a larger piece of artwork, if you have a story behind it that you did go to Iglulik and you watched this artist carving this piece, it has more value to you as a collector or the buyer of the piece. It has more of a story."

Iglulik was visited by one cruise ship, an excursion of 10 people from another cruise liner and had an outfitter/photography group of about a dozen people stop in the community this summer, Morash said.

The community pulled in an estimated $40,000 from the single day that the cruise ship came in – including a purchase of about 200 pounds of Arctic char, Morash noted.

"If we were better organized, we could have got a lot more than that," he said. "We anticipate an increase in cruise ships in the next (few years). We learned a lot from the cruise ship that came in this time. We'll know better next time what to expect and what to do."