'Sewing is therapy': Why this Nunavut mom sews clothes for her kids
Facebook post of Wen Alookee's hand-crafted parka received over 1,000 likes
Determination, survival and love — these are reasons why 25-year old Wen Alookee sews.
The Taloyoak, Nunavut, mother of three (with one more child on the way) had a brush with social media celebrity after creating a stunning puuq, or Mother Hubbard parka, for her daughter Tunnuq, who is turning two next month.
"I just love her, I wanted to make it really pretty for her because she's so pretty and I wanted her to look really pretty."
Both of Tunnuq's older siblings are brothers.
"I always sewed for my boys but when I got a girl, I was so happy I could finally design," she said.
Alookee got the pattern to sew a puuq from her grandmother. She made it using three layers that includes windproof material in between the inside lining and the printed material on the outside.
The bias tape featuring the ulu (a traditional Inuit women's knife) was a Christmas gift given to her, as she is known to love sewing.
"I learned [how to sew] from my grandmother Anaoyok," she said. "When I got my first child ... our winters are so cold ... and I really wanted an amaut," a traditional baby carrier that is also the mother's jacket.
"I was so determined to get one. I took eight months sewing my first amaut and I didn't stop from there."
Alookee has since learned how to sew winter parkas, hats, ski pants, mitts and kamiit (traditional Inuit footwear).
She makes them every year for her children.
"I found they really look up to me. And from that I kept going and kept trying because they were watching me," she said.
"It makes me feel good inside that I'm able to provide that for my kids because I can't stand seeing kids cold. And so it makes me happy and grateful that I'm able to do that for my kids."
She also made a caribou-skin amautik last year under her grandmother's guidance. Caribou-skin is known to be the warmest kind of Inuit traditional clothing.
Alookee says her beloved grandmother is pleased with her that she has learned to sew.
So what did she have to say about Tunnuq's puuq?
"She said it was really nice, she was proud of it. Everything I make, she's always really happy and grateful."
Alookee named her daughter Tunnuq, after her 77-year-old grandmother, Anaoyok Alookee. In Inuit culture, naming a newborn after an elder means that the elder will always live on.
"I wanted to be with my grandmother forever, I named my baby after her."
It's not only Alookee's grandmother who likes the puuq.
Members of CBC North's Facebook group, the Arctic Sewing Room, do too. Just take a look at these numbers: over 46,000 members have clicked on Alookee's post, and it's received over 1,000 likes, and over 200 shares.
"That was really lots… I was kind of overwhelmed," she says about how popular her post is.
"There's a lot of people who really like [Tunnuq's] parka and it was just something I made because I love my daughter and I wanted to keep her warm," she said. "I was so thankful."
Alookee also has this to say to young parents in Nunavut: anything is possible.
The mother of three, going on four, raised her children while getting through school, learning how to sew and now works full-time at the hamlet as a finance officer.
"Sewing really helped me survive. And it's therapy. Sewing is therapy, it really helps."