Keeping it under his hat
Pita Aatami, cap collector
KUUJJUAQ — Most people know Pita Aatami as the president of Makivik Corporation, the birthright organization that represents Nunavik’s Inuit.
But few realize that Aatami is also a passionate collector of pens, pins and hats.
Aatami keeps his remarkable collections in a shed outside his home in Kuujjuaq, where he often carves or works on various projects.
And when he does, he has company — his collection of several hundred hats, tacked to the shed’s ceiling.
There are hats from Nordair, Tim Hortons, the former community of Dildo in Newfoundland, and the Aupaluk Red Army hockey team.
Many hats come from Nunavik.
“Tasiujaq is one of the smallest communities, but they have the largest number of caps,” Aatami says.
Aatami also has hats from Nashville, Greenland, Russia, the Philippines, Rome, Paris and Cuba. He’s picked up most of them while travelling.
One, a souvenir from Disneyworld, looks like Goofy and has long ears hanging down from its sides.
“A lot of people from the South are also sending me caps,” Aatami says. “I never say no to a hat.”
When Aatami gets two of the same design, he puts one in a bag to give away.
Aatami also has about 30 leather caps, which he keeps in his house.
A true collector, Aatami doesn’t have to look at his hats every day to enjoy them.
“It makes me happy just to know they�re there,” Aatami says.
Aatami started collecting hats back in 1984. For years, he displayed them in the pool hall he owned in Kuujjuaq.
Aatami regrets that many of his oldest ones were mislaid when the business closed down in 1993.
The oldest hat Aatami now has is from the Kigiak Construction Company where he once worked as a plumber. It dates back to 1979.
Aatami also displays his collection of pins in the shed.
Three rows of pins come from Inuit organizations. One of Aatami’s favourites is a pewter inuksuk pin from the Nunavut Implementation Commission.
Aatami keeps a smaller pen collection in his office.
“I collect objects,” Aatami jokes. “But I have a hard time collecting money.”