Sanikiluaq eiderdown factory could be running by March

A study in Sanikiluaq, Nunavut, has determined there is enough eiderdown to restart the community's eiderdown factory, which closed in 2005 after nearly 20 years in business.

‘We know what our markets are... and it is feasible long term,’ says SAO Darryl Dibblee

The film, People of a Feather, by Joel Heath, documented the unique relationship between the people of Sanikiluaq and the Eider ducks who visit the islands each winter. The community could re-open its eiderdown factory as soon as March 2015.

A study in Sanikiluaq, Nunavut, has determined there is enough eiderdown to restart the community's eiderdown factory after a decade-long hiatus. 

“We ensured this will be operational,” says Daryl Dibblee, the hamlet's senior administrative officer. “We know what our markets are. We know what our sales volumes are and it is feasible long term.”

Sanikiluaq, a community of about 850 on the Belcher Islands in Hudson Bay, did have an eiderdown factory in the community for nearly 20 years.

It closed in 2005 when demand, and the population of eider ducks, dropped significantly.

The previous factory depended on government funds, which also ran out, Dibblee says. 

Eider ducks have long been a source of food and clothing on the Belcher Islands. The unique relationship between eider ducks and local people has been documented in a feature-length film, People of a Feather.

Eiderdown is considered one of the best natural insulants in the world — and it commands a good price. 

“Duvets sell for about $7,000 or $8,000,” Dibblee says. “You know, there is a limited supply of the down.”

Dibblee says the factory could also produce vests or mittens, but first, some repairs are needed.

An electrician and a specialist in asbestos are scheduled to work on the building next week. The hamlet has also ordered sterilization equipment and plans to start training workers early in the new year.

Collecting the down doesn’t harm the ducks at all, since the down is taken from nests.

Dibblee says there is a healthy supply of down, which people have already started to collect.