Knitting for the North

Lauren James is busy completing her final semester at Trent, but that hasn’t stopped her from becoming involved. On November 15, Lauren will be mailing a box full of knitted and miscellaneous goods to be dispersed among the Northern communities of Nunavut, where poverty and the unemployment rate is the highest in Canada.

“There are a lot of systemic reasons for this,” Lauren explained during an online interview. “Trying to find a balance between a waged and traditional economy is a big one. Five out of six (83.3%) of Inuit households [have been] classified as ‘food insecure.’ Many stores, which would sell clothing articles as well as food, have complete control over prices as they face no competition. Welfare recipients receive less up in Nunavut than those here, despite the cost of living being so much higher. Price gouging makes it almost impossible for people to feed and clothe their families.”

In early 2012, Lauren became aware of the Feeding My Family campaign – an Inuit based movement – as it became more publicized in the press.

“There were images of Nunnavumiut elders, children, men and women, protesting the extremely high food costs in Nunavut. The images stuck with me and I decided to look into it further,” she said. After seeing a post by a man stating some of the outrageous costs that he must pay simply to clothe his children throughout the winter months, she decided that knitting could be one method to help.

“Knitting is a personal way to give to those in need. It takes time, and in that time you can be mindful of why you are knitting, who you are knitting for and reflect on the needs within our country.”

Although Lauren admits that she is relatively new to knitting herself, she nonetheless plans to gather enough items to fill one box with scarves, mittens, socks and toques. Lauren is asking that anyone within the Peterborough community who is skilled in the art of knitting or crocheting consider creating something to send to Nunavut. If you are unable to knit, Lauren is also accepting donations of new or lightly used clothing. Shipping costs are very high, and she will be unable to send large amounts of clothing, but old coats, wool socks and long johns would make excellent donations.

“It is very small scale,” Lauren said, referring to her project. “I haven’t received that much feedback and really have no idea how much stuff I am going to have to send up. I didn’t have a big goal when starting this initiative. I’m just hoping to make this winter easier on some families up North.”

When asked if there was anything else she would like the Trent community to know, Lauren said, “If everyone tried to do small acts of kindness, the world would be a much better place! I’d suggest that people check out the website and check out their facebook group as well. It is important to look at Inuit understandings of the issue of poverty and food insecurity.”

About Jennifer Boon 36 Articles
Jen is a third year Indigenous Studies and English undergrad, and has been writing for Arthur since 2012. She has written dramatic pieces performed in Nozem theatre for Anishinaabe Maanjiidwin, been published in small alternative magazines, and is currently developing a book of self-positivity poetry in partnership with local Peterborough youth. In addition to spending her time writing essays, short stories, and articles, Jen can also be found devouring sushi at local restaurants downtown or sipping one too many cups of coffee by the river.