Jeunes Citoyens / Young Citizens

Shae Fort Smith, Northwest Territories

Fair address: Northwest Territories Territorial Fair

Project: Raised in the Hood?

"Raised in the Hood?" is about the amauti, a parka for carrying babies.  I lived in Igloolik when I was a baby, and our family used the amauti with all three children. It is a fantastic invention that has lasted through the generations.

What was the most interesting thing you learned about your topic?

One amauti sold for 19,200 dollars in an auction. Our family had one made for $500. It shows how valuable a cultural item like this can be.

What important lessons have you learned that you want to share with other Canadians?

The amauti shows the ingenuity and creativity of the Inuit. The amauti keeps the baby close to their mother's heartbeat, and the bond between mother and child is enhanced because of how close they are for extended periods of time. The child is protected from cold temperatures. Inuit women used to make amauti from hide and sinew but have now moved onto modern materials, which allows for more customization.

How would you compare your life today to the lives of those studied in your project?

When the amauti was used long ago, people moved around using shelters like tents and igloos. Men relied on hunting and fishing while the women took care of the children and the home. The amauti was very effective in cold climates allowing women to have their hands free and move around. When I was raised in an amauti, we lived in a modern, permanent home and we fishing and hunted in addition to shopping in town. Both my mother and father used the amauti. By then, gender roles were changing, and it was acceptable.

  • Bronwyn

    Really brings out the history in this topic! Good job
    24/06/2016 6:18:57 PM

  • Juanita Balhuizen

    My Shae how you have grown ... you no longer fit in 'da hood'! It is so good to see you honouring Inuit tradition and your personal experience with it. Well done!
    14/06/2016 8:24:41 AM

  • Sherry

    What an interesting article. I learned something new abut about amauti. So interesting that your mom used one of these to carry you around. Fabulous article.
    14/06/2016 6:18:55 AM

  • Jodi McMahon

    It is a fantastic invention for raising babies that is still widely used today! Our family raised three children that way, using our amauti in Igloolik and Fort Smith! Shae's dad used it too - works great on a skidoo or quad. Shae's grandfather and I even sewed a second cover with the help of Inuit elders.
    13/06/2016 5:51:21 PM

  • Debbie Menchions

    I had the honor of watching Shae grow up in "da hood" and put him in the amauti many times from walks to the restaurant and 4 wheeler drives on the tundra.
    13/06/2016 10:04:40 AM

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Project partially funded by the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage.
  • Canadian Heritage / Patrimoine Canadien
  • Government of Canada
  • HBC: Hudson's Bay Company
  • ecentricarts inc.