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Thrift store facelift, sewing workshop in Baker Lake

A weekend sewing workshop and gathering to improve the Abluqta Society’s thrift store was a success, despite one day lost to weather last month.

Erin Strachan and Emma Inns made the trip to Baker for the workshop on behalf of Performance Management Consultants.

Inns, who owns an eco-fabric store in Ottawa’s ByWard Market called Adorit Boutique, donated two industrial-sized sewing machines to the Abluqta Society in December.

Mary Killulaq is all smiles while taking a sewing workshop with the Abluqta Society in Baker Lake on Feb. 22. Photo courtesy of Erin Strachan

Strachan said she and Inns flew to Meadowbank on the Agnico Eagle charter and ended-up spending the night there due to bad weather.

She said they arrived at the thrift shop a day late due to the delay, but everything went fine on Feb. 22 and 23.

“We did the sewing workshop with three participants and that went really well,” said Strachan.

“Then we helped the society design and create shelving units out of recycled pallets. We had quite a few volunteers there to help us do it and, in the end, they had a 10-foot wall and a 16-foot wall, each with eight racks on it.

“The thrift shop is located in a house and now, basically, they can get most of the thrift shop’s merchandise into the living room.

“They also now have the sewing machines set up and a lot of uniforms from Agnico Eagle to start practicing on.”

Strachan said they also installed a living wall, which has grow lights on the ceiling and a number of planters mounted on the wall.

She said they planted seeds for such things as lettuce, kale, green onions and garlic.

“They’ve started to grow already and everyone’s kind of excited because not a lot of people with Abluqta have actually ever grown anything like that.

“One of the machines, the serger, did get a little bit damaged during transit. We did get it working, but we’re going to have a sewing machine doctor take a look at it because we’re struggling with the tension and that kind of thing, but I think it can be resolved.

“Luckily, the Jessie Oonark Centre is in town and the people who run that have been very supportive of the Abluqta Society and these machines, so they’ve offered to, sort of, assist where they can.

“They’ve got a guy who comes once a year to doctor their sewing machines, so we’re trying to get in touch with him and there’s even a chance we might be able to do it over Facetime or a Skype call.”

Strachan said the goal remains for Abluqta to secure a uniform-repair contract from Agnico Eagle’s Meadowbank mine.

She said there are so many repairs to be made that Agnico Eagle can no longer keep up with it all.

“Previous to now they’ve had to ship a lot of their repairs south, and that just seems like such a shame when you have so many women in this community with the sewing knowledge they have.

“Why would those job opportunities go south?

“So, if all goes well and we get the two machines running properly and the details of the contract worked out, it could mean two full-time jobs or four part-time jobs for four local seamstresses.”