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Rhoda Nuvaqiq of Pangnirtung crochets a doll sized ‘Pang’ hat at the Uqqurmiut Centre for Arts and Crafts in Pangnirtung.

January/February 2012

In an age where technology and mechanized gadgets dominate the children’s toy market, Saila Qilavvaq is a refreshing alternative that encourages imagination and cross-cultural understanding. Saila, from Iqaluit, Nunavut, is the newest in a line of dolls that provide children with wholesome, contemporary role models from all over Canada.

The doll has just been named one of the Top Ten Toys of 2012 in the Canadian Toy Testing Council’s ‘Children’s Choice Awards’. According to the Council’s report, it was ‘the quality of (her) beautiful clothing’ that won toy testers over.

With that in mind, the award might truly belong to a handful of Nunavut’s skilled artisans who hand make some of the more traditional items in Saila’s wardrobe. Her miniature white and blue amauti is made at Arviat’s Kiluk Ltd. while a woollen crocheted ‘Pang’ hat is made at The Uqqurmiut Centre for Arts & Crafts in Pangnirtung.

Pangnirtung is already known for producing the hats in sizes suitable for real life folks but this project has been a great way to get younger members of the community involved. Making the miniature hats provides experience and for some a way of earning income while still in school according to Art Centre Manager Kyra Fisher before noting the doll has become a source of pride in the community as ‘she represents (Inuit) culture’.