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A man and woman use a sewing machine to stitch a jacket.

RCMP organize sewing workshops to learn and connect

The sewing workshops were popular among Paulatuk residents eager to learn new skills. Credit: RCMP


RCMP officers in Paulatuk, N.W.T., are helping the community share generational knowledge through a series of sewing workshops.

Cpl. Cara Streeter organized the mitten- and parka-making workshops where community elders taught the ins-and-outs of preparing furs, cutting patterns and stitching everything together.

"Sometimes it can be hard to get to know the police," says Streeter, who heads the small, arctic detachment. "This is a way to show that we're enjoying our time here and we care about the community."

The sessions helped officers connect with members of the small, 350-person community and discuss topics like healthy relationships.

The RCMP Family Violence Initiative Fund supported the project providing a grant to get materials to the town nearly 900 kilometres northwest of Yellowknife on the Arctic Ocean's shore.

"We're having conversations and building trust," says Streeter. "We've had some elders open up about residential schools and what they went through. It's been a very powerful experience."

The mitten and parka workshops each took place over eight weeks with weekly sessions.

Paulatuk Mayor Ray Ruben says they were welcome events as the days grew shorter and winter and polar night approached.

"They're bringing something to the community that benefits the people here," says Ruben. "People get to work with someone who knows the craft and can help them along."

Elders were employed to share their sewing techniques, often learned from their parents, and could be very particular about proper stitching.

"We all had our chance with the seam ripper," says Streeter.

When the workshops were announced, it was so popular, names had to be drawn. Warm winter gear like parkas and mittens are necessary in Paulatuk, where the average daily temperature is

9.3 C and 30-below isn't uncommon.

While not everyone could participate in the workshops, they became community events. Participants would bring their children and other Paulatuk residents brought personal sewing projects to work on with company.

Activities like the workshops are one of the many ways the RCMP in Paulatuk participate in community life. Officers regularly visit the local school to play sports and have hosted a sight-in-your-rifle event before hunting season.

Ruben says sewing is a popular activity in Paulatuk and younger people are always eager to learn.

"This is some positive relationship-building by the RCMP members," Ruben says. "We appreciate that type of commitment."

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