North

Need a mask? These N.W.T seamstresses have you covered

A group of N.W.T. seamstresses gathered up their leftover materials and have handed out hundreds of homemade fabric masks for free to seniors, the immunocompromised and health and essential workers.

Seamstresses have donated hundreds of homemade masks to people around the territory

Thuy Ha and other seamstresses around the N.W.T. have handed out hundreds of homemade non-surgical face masks. (Thuy Ha)

Just a few hours after Canada's chief public health officer announced last week that wearing homemade non-surgical masks could help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, posts began to pop up on northerners' Facebook feeds asking where to get those masks.

Ha owns a sewing and clothing store in Yellowknife. She's been using her extra fabric to make over 100 masks to give away. (Thuy Ha)

That's why a group of N.W.T. seamstresses gathered up their leftover materials and got to work.

They've now handed out hundreds of homemade fabric masks for free to seniors, the immunocompromised and health and essential workers.

Originally from Vietnam, Thuy Ha has worked as a Yellowknife seamstress for decades and normally works out of her downtown shop Thanh Dat. She was forced to close a few weeks ago and is now working out of her home. 

"I see on the news, the people wear non-surgical masks, it's better to help with the COVID-19. I can make some for people. They need them," Ha said. 

"People ask to buy them for $10. I say no I don't sell them. I can give for you all because I'm not busy right now. I have time and I have some materials. I can help people."

In just four days, Ha has given out more than 100 masks. She's had to slow down production because she's running low on elastic. 

"The first day I made 30 and I post on the Facebook. In half hour, gone. Next day I made 20 more and I put on Facebook. Gone," she said.

"Everybody that ask me, I give them."

Two-time Skills Canada sewing champion Kaylin Harder has been making masks for people in her hometown of Inuvik, N.W.T. (Kaylin Harder)

Gerri Sharpe has sewn and given out 375 masks in the last week. She received some funding from the NWT Human Rights Commission to buy materials and has been sharing those materials with seamstresses across the North.

"This is the northern way of doing things. We help and support our community. We're making a difference," Sharpe said during an interview on CBC's Northwind

Two-time Skills Canada sewing champion Kaylin Harder started making masks for people in Inuvik, N.W.T., when she heard about Dr. Theresa Tam's recommendations on Facebook.

"It feels really good that I can actually use my skills for something practical to help people," said Harder.

For sewers who want to make masks but don't know how to get it to people in need, Yellowknife's Quilted Raven store will be collecting masks at the store every Monday.

Store owner Charlene Adam is hoping to collect 500 masks to distribute to non-medical essential workers throughout the territory.

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