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Sewing machine house call in Rankin

A large number of people took full advantage of a recent sewing machine workshop, including free repairs, at the Rankin Inlet Visitor’s Centre.

Sessions were held on a walk-in basis from Oct. 7 to 10, with repairs being done in front of people while they listened and learned.

The workshop was facilitated by Winnipeg’s Gary Israel, who has 40-years experience working on sewing machines.

He was brought to Rankin for the workshop through the efforts of Goretti Kakuktinniq of the Nunavut Development Corp.

Goretti Kakuktinniq of the Nunavut Development Corp. and technician Gary Israel stand behind just a few of the sewing machines in need of repair at a four-day sewing workshop at the Rankin Inlet Visitor's Centre from Oct. 7-10, 2019. photo courtesy of Noel Kaludjak

Israel said his first visit to Rankin Inlet was in 1996 to set-up equipment and train some operators on how to time their own machines at the then Ivalu sewing factory.

He said he’s travelled to Rankin a number of times since then.

“I don’t know if anyone around here knows Sherlyn Kadjuk, but she’s someone I remember from the very first time I was up here in Rankin,” said Israel.

“In fact, I think she’s still working in the business in Arviat.

“In total, I believe I’ve been to Rankin five times now over the years, but I prefer coming here in the summer and fall to the middle of winter.”

Israel said he’s not sure just how many sewing machines he saw during his most recent visit to Rankin Inlet, but it was a lot.

He said just about everyone he saw during the workshop cared a great deal for their sewing machine and what it means to their family.

Technician Gary Israel talks to a customer while fixing her machine during a four-day sewing workshop at the Rankin Inlet Visitor’s Centre on Oct. 9. Darrell Greer/NNSL photo

“Sewing is very popular here in Rankin. Not only is sewing a pastime here, but it also seems to be a way of life,” he said.

“I work hard trying to keep up with the machines I see while I’m in Rankin, so it seems to me somebody could make a living at this up here.

“This workshop was sponsored by Ivalu and the Nunavut Development Corp. and that was certainly nice of them because it’s needed in the community.

“For people to bring their machines down to Winnipeg – or pay probably a couple of hundred dollars to ship it down – I guess it’s probably more than worthwhile to sponsor something like this right here in the community.”

Israel said one problem he somehow expected to see, and did, during his time in Rankin, was to see a few sewing machines that were oiled with cooking oil.

He said when he sees a machine like that, it’s always very, very sticky.

“We bought a can of WD40 and I kind of unstuck them.

“I also brought along some proper oil which went fast, but we can always send stuff up.

“I was just lucky it didn’t leak in my luggage when I brought it up.”