Media release regarding "Red Amautiit"

November 22, 2019


WINNIPEG, Manitoba, November 22, 2019 - Manitoba Inuit Association (MIA), the representative organization for Inuit living in Manitoba and its charitable organization, Ikayuqtiit ("Inuit helping Inuit" ) Inc. is launching its "Red Amautiit" Project.

"We were a 'Party With Standing' at the National Inquiry into MMIWG and attended many of the public hearings that were located in Winnipeg. We witnessed first hand the trauma that families endured as they participated in and witnessed the Inquiry," stated Rachel Dutton, Executive Director of Manitoba Inuit Association.

"When the National Inquiry on MMIWG came to Manitoba in 2017 for Family Hearings, there were no resources or services to support Inuit families impacted by MMIWG. As Ikayuqtiit was being established, families ugently appealed to us for help. In response, we created Kativiik ("a gathering place"), our first program for MMIWG families. Through Kativiik, we provide outreach, trauma-informed counselling, translation and cultural services, referrals, advocacy, traditional healing, and other vital supports for Inuit families impacted by MMIWG," stated Dutton.

Through this engagement, Kativiik developed an Inuit Women's sewing group consisting of families and friends impacted by MMIWG. These workshops provided a traditional way to grieve through Inuit traditional sewing. As women experience and take part in their culture through Inuit sewing practices, they begin to feel safe and comfortable enough to speak about their experiences of losing their loved ones.

"The idea of the 'Red Amautiit' originated with the families of our Kativiik sewing circles, as a way to commemorate their loved ones by collaborating in sewing a red "amaut"-an Inuit woman's parka where their babies are carried in the hood of the garment and soothed by the closeness to their mother in hearing the beat of her heart." stated Gayle Gruben, Project Officer and Inuit Seamstress with the Red Amautiit Project.

"Our hope is we create space for Inuit voices and healing that transforms conversations at the regional and national levels into action of the root causes that place Inuit women and children in vulnerable positions in amongst the day to day reality of living with poverty, food insecurity, inadequate housing and economic dispare. Perhaps the Red Amautiit will come to symbolize the strength of Inuit women and their culture," states Dutton.

The "Red Amautiit"project will provide healing on a national scale, giving grieving families in thirteen (13) Inuit communities (Manitoba: Winnipeg, Churchill, Brandon, Nunavut: Baker Lake, Chesterfield Inlet, Saniqilluaq, Arviat, Whale Cove, Rankin Inlet, Respulse Bay, Coral Harbour and Nunatisiavut: Nain, Rigolet) the opportunity to honor and commemorate their loved ones in a culturally meaningful way. The families will be intimately involved in all aspects of the project, including: the personalized design and construction of amautiit and how we will share the story of these amautiit and the people they represent with the community and the broader public.

The first of thirteen (13) "Red Amautiit" workshops will take place on November 25, 26, 27th 2019 in Winnipeg at the offices of the Manitoba Inuit Association. "We want to make sure that members of our community are aware of this important Inuit project and know that they can seek healing and community connection through our sewing workshops," stated Gayle Gruben.

With the support and permission of the families and communities that are participating in the project, the Red Amautiit will have temporary and/or permanent exhibition in galleries and museums across the country and perhaps internationally, to continue the dialogue and invigorate transformative change for Inuit women and girls.

MIA is currently providing Inuit-specific services in Education and health supports with our Education Connections program (education supports, Inuit student mentorship programs), Kativiik Program (Inuit-centered counseling and supports groups for Inuit families impacted by MMIWG). In addition, we continue to foster our partnerships with universities and colleges, such as those with University of Manitoba's Ongomizwin Research who is our co-lead on an first of its kind study on the health of Inuit living in Manitoba.

Thousands of Inuit come to Manitoba every year for training, health care, advanced education, or to seek further opportunities. Hundreds of Inuit have made Manitoba their permanent home, and every year, the number of Inuit moving South increases.

The Manitoba Inuit Association's mission is to enhance the lives of Inuit in Manitoba, Canada by promoting Inuit values, community, and culture while connecting Inuit to services that meet our evolving needs.


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