5,000 non-medical masks are coming soon from a Nunavut sewing machine near you
The territory calls on its sewers to make masks for elders, travellers
Sewers in Nunavut are making thousands of non-medical masks. They'll be used by travellers, elders and people with underlying medical conditions, and non-medical first responders like firefighters.
It's Nunavut's response to a new Transport Canada requirement for all airline travellers to have masks when they board a plane. The masks don't have to be medical quality, but they have to cover your face.
Kits to make these masks are being sent to sewers in multiple communities. Once they're ready, the airlines and hamlets will be able to give them out.
So far, around 500 masks are already sewn, and around 1,000 will be made each week.
"These masks will be made of cotton, they are washable, reusable, and are made according to national standards and guidelines," Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq said Wednesday in a regular government news conference.
"They are not meant to replace other measures such as social distancing and washing hands, but give us an additional layer of protection," he said.
The Department of Economic Development and the Nunavut Development Corporation are working jointly to fund and plan the masks. The project has $35,000 in funds to get started.
Nunavut sewers have communities covered
Kathy Komakjuak is helping to make the masks happen. She's been working with Kiluk, a handcrafted clothing company in Arviat, to refocus the company's work to help communities through the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I want my kids to be safe too so I started volunteering," she said.
Kiluk is a subsidiary of the Nunavut Development Corporation.
"We're cutting up patterns and elastics right now. When we're done cutting them up we get people to pick them up or we drop them off at their doors," Komakjuak said. "When they are done, we make appointments for them to drop them off here."
When enough masks are ready, they're sent to Rankin Inlet and then out to other communities.
Instructions for how to make your own mask are being prepared and will be posted soon.
Around 18 sewers are working to make the masks right now. With the pieces already cut, Komakjuak figured she could make as many as 200 masks in a day.
With files from Matisse Harvey