Canada Goose celebrates the Inuit seamstresses of Northern Canada
Canada Goose’s collection of parkas and down-filled jackets have become ubiquitous garb on wintery city streets, but despite its urban credo, the Toronto-based label has stayed true to its Canadian identity and heritage. This is no more apparent than in the brand’s newest initiative, Project Atigi, a capsule collection of 14 one-of-a-kind parkas, each individually made by an Inuit seamstress living in Northern Canada.
Developed to create social entrepreneurship opportunities for the women by allowing them to showcase their craftsmanship and lexicon of traditional designs, Project Atigi (the Inuktitut word translates as ‘parka’) is a beautiful tribute to the handicraft history of the Inuit community, cast in a contemporary light.
Project Atigi is a beautiful tribute to the handicraft history of the Inuit community
Canada Goose’s idea to bring past and present together actually sprung out of another project, its Resource Center Program, which was founded in 2009, and sees the company donating fabrics, buttons, zippers, trimmings and other materials to the people and communities dwelling in Northern Canada. That programme was established after two seamstresses, sisters Meeka and Rebecca Atagookak were invited to partner with Canada Goose for its 50th anniversary in 2007, and asked if they could repurpose discarded materials to make jackets for their family and friends. Since then, Canada Goose has supported these indigenous communities and their tradition of sewing parkas by hand.
‘As a Canadian brand, the North is a huge part of Canada and a huge part of our heritage,’ says Canada Goose’s CEO Dani Reiss. ‘Our brand was born in the North, and so for us to give these 14 women, whose role is to make parkas for their community, the chance to create entrepreneurial opportunities, this is the ultimate in social entrepreneurship. To me, it’s what businesses should be doing and it’s a really authentic way for us to pursue that.’
‘We started the Canada Goose Resource Centers [because] we realised that they didn’t always have access to the best materials and we had those. This is really the next iteration of that, creating opportunities for people in Northern Canada to take their skills and sell them to a global marketplace,’ he adds.
the Amauti design boasts a built-in pouch that allows mothers to carry their children
The resulting 14 designs are a moving display of heritage and pride. Made by seamstresses representing nine different communities in four Inuit regions – Inuvialuit, Nunatsiavut, Nunavut and Nunavik – each parka is imbued with traditional features, such as hand-braided geometric trims, the use of cultural symbols, adaptations of treasured family patterns and interpretations of traditional silhouettes, like the Amauti which boasts a built-in pouch that allows mothers to carry their children.
‘These are 14 unique pieces of art, that will not only keep you really warm, because their designers are the original parka makers, but [they are also] an expression of the diversity of Canada and how the south and north can work together in a really positive way.’
All proceeds from the sale of the collection, will benefit Inuit communities via the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), the national Inuit representational organization that works with the four Inuit regions. Through education, advocacy and public outreach, ITK seeks to promote Inuit health, well-being and prosperity through unity and self-determination. §