Pauktuutit calls attention to the theft of Inuit designs


IQALUIT — The Inuit women’s association, Pauktuutit, held a press conference this week on Parliament Hill in Ottawa to draw attention to what they call the misappropriation of Inuit traditional items such as the inuksuk, kayak, iglu and amauti.

Pauktuutit’s president, Veronica Dewar, and Shelia Watt-Cloutier of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference and the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada called on the federal government to protect collectively-owned Inuit intellectual property.

They want support to stop international fashion designers from stealing Inuit-inspired designs.

“Today, we have no protection, legally, anywhere,” Dewar said.

Pauktuutit recently attended a meeting of the World Intellectual Proprty Organization (WIPO) in Geneva on the need to protect indigenous cultural property around the world. At the WIPO meeting, Pauktuutit presented a proposal on the legal measures they believe would be required to protect the amauti.

“I support wholeheartedly the call for legal protection to prevent the further exploitation of Inuit clothing designs,” said Senator Charlie Watt, in a prepared statement on Pauktuutit’s efforts to promote and protect traditional Inuit clothing designs.

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