Nunavut community gets creative with welding
“I went into the program to learn more skills as an artist”
Emilia Alareak has worked for years sewing her own creations at home.
But the 30-year-old Arviat seamstress is working on a new kind of parka this week — made from metal.
Looking to expand her skills, Alareak signed up to take part in the hamlet’s new artistic welding workshop, from Aug. 24 to Sept.1.
“I wanted to learn something new,” Alareak said in Inuktitut, through an interpreter. “I went into the program to learn more skills as an artist.”
Nunavummiut in most communities have to leave home to get specialized training.
Arviat is a community that’s led the way in developing local programming. In recent years, the hamlet has responded to a demand for local trades training, largely focused on helping youth find work in the region’s mining industry.
Now, the hamlet is expanding that training to the community’s artistic community.
If you walk into its welding shop this week, you’ll find multi-media depictions of an eagle, a qajaq and even a miniature village in the works.
Michelle Malla, the hamlet’s economic development officer, said a local training advisory group met in 2015 to look at future programming options for the community of roughly 3,000 — half who are under the age of 20.
“We had a discussion about what to do with the growing amount of metal in the local dump, and how to put youth or recent graduates to work,” Malla said.
As it has in past training workshops, the hamlet teamed up with instructors at the Ontario-based Northern College to deliver Artistic 3D Art Welding at home in the Kivalliq community, to seven students.
The program is also funded in part by the Government of Nunavut’s department of Economic Development and Transportation, with the goal of promoting artistic development among Inuit youth in the community.
“It is innovative,” the department said in an emailed statement. “It seeks to introduce an artistic medium to Nunavut while at the same time showing young people an important and high-in-demand trade such as welding.”
Welding and shaping metal has practical purposes in industries like construction and mining, but what about Arviat’s arts industry?
“For these students, we’re hoping they’ll start doing crafts and selling them to local stores or [directly] to visitors,” Malla said.
Alareak plans to keep her metal parka, complete with fur trim, at home for herself, but hopes to experiment with other metal sculpture this fall.
While she might have been the only woman participant this week, Alareak she said she’d recommend the course to anyone.
The hamlet will offer more programming for residents over the fall and winter months, including a Mechanical Welding Trade program in September and a Word Readiness workshop later in the fall. Residents can contact the hamlet office for more details at (867) 857-2841.