Holiday craft sale in Iqaluit goes virtual

Inuk artists, Nancy Natanie-Goupil said selling Christmas ornaments has “been challenging” this year.

Nancy Natanie-Goupil makes one of a kind, handmade sealskin Christmas ornaments every year. 

From ulu to inuksuk-shaped ornaments, they’re a bargain at $20 a pop. 

Usually, she sells them at the annual Christmas craft fair in Iqaluit, but this year, with COVID-19 restrictions, the fair is cancelled. 

“It has been challenging,” she said, “I have to use my Facebook to sell, and I have to put them outside the door, on the doorknob, so that we don’t have contact with other people.”  

So, Natanie-Goupil is trying something different.  

On Dec. 12 at 9 a.m., you can find her work, along with crafts from other artists on a virtual craft sale on Facebook.

Her sales are down compared to previous years, but Natanie-Goupil said this isn’t money to pay the bills, “It’s extra money, to buy presents for my kids too, and family.”

Seal is as traditional a material as you’ll find among Inuit. But making ornaments from seal has its own challenges.

Natanie-Goupil said, “You have to get used to the stretching and other stuff, to experiment; to get used to cutting and trying to get them to be beautiful.” 

“When I buy it commercially tanned, I have to stretch them, I have to put a little water on the skin, the skin side, and leave it in the fridge for 3 hours, And stretch it, and staple it on the plywood. and then leave it overnight dry. 

It’s a process, but the payoff is uniquely Inuit Christmas decorations.  

Natanie-Goupil said she should sell a lot of ornaments online, but said she will miss buying crafts from other artists in attendance.  

Video Journalist / Iqaluit

Kent has been APTN’s Nunavut correspondent since 2007. In that time he has closely covered Inuit issues, including devolution and the controversial Nutrition North food subsidy. He has also worked for CKIQ-FM in Iqaluit and as a reporter for Nunavut News North.