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.  

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