This winter Nunavummi Disabilities Makinnasuqtit Society (NDMS) is promoting healthy living through its sewing program. Twelve participants have enrolled in this free pilot project since Jan. 15.

At the beginning of each session, program facilitator Issac Mensah educates participants about tobacco-related issues. His goal is to inform participants about the effects of smoking and encourage a tobacco-free lifestyle.

Instructor Annie Kilabuk helps participant Jennifer Kilabuk during her second day at the sewing program in Iqaluit.
Rajnesh Sharma/NNSL photo

“It’s all about promoting healthy living in the community,” said Mensah.
All adults, including non-smokers and inexperienced sewers, are welcome to join the sewing program. The only requirement is participants should not smoke during the three-hour sessions.

The program is held every Monday, Wednesday and Friday between 5 p.m. to 8 p.m in Iqaluit. The sewing classes are taught by two experienced Inuit instructors, Victoria Pauloosie and Annie Kilabuk.

For Kilabuk, sewing provides her with a sense of accomplishment and peace.
“Your mind is very preoccupied. So you feel more at ease with the life circumstances that you’re in. It’s very peaceful,” said Kilabuk.

Participants can choose to make various winter clothing.

Participant Janna Vassil is determined to make pants for her upcoming travels, while Mi Yeon Kim is making a parka and mittens for her boyfriend.

It is however, more than just sewing a pair of pants that has attracted Vassil to the group.
“It’s about being around people. It’s very calm and relaxing. And, I get to learn new skills,” said Vassil.

Kim, who is originally from South Korea, finds the program a great way to connect with Inuit community.

“They (Inuit) are very nice and welcoming. They know I’m not Inuk. They know I am a beginner (at sewing). They are willing to help me,” explained Kim, adding that it is a great opportunity to learn sewing from them.

When not organizing and collecting sewing materials, Mensah too participates in the program.

“I enjoy the teamwork and the togetherness,” he said.

Mensah, who is an Employment Specialist at NDMS, hopes the sewing program will allow the participants to develop skills possibly for future employment or entrepreneurship opportunities.

“So with this program they will be encouraged to sew for themselves and even establish their own business,” said Mensah.

He encourages interested individuals to join the program whether its for connecting with others, learning about healthy living, developing sewing skills or a stepping stone to future employment. The program runs until March. 27 at the Eight-Storey building, unit 110. Mensah can be contacted at 979-2228.

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