Winter on Broughton Island

"Because of the environment we live in, kamiks are the most suitable footwear. They are one of the most important parts of clothing for survival out on the land. Kamiks are part of our identity. They are part of our culture and environment." Sarah Ovatuatia Philip of Iqaluit, Northwest Territories

Photograph by Jill Oakes and Rick Riewe

photograph © Jill Oakes and Rick Riewe


"To make kamiks, you need to know someone who hunts so you can get skins. Fall is a good time for skins."
Sarah Ovatuatia Philip, 1996

Boots Made of Animal Skins

The Inuit - one of Canada's aboriginal peoples - developed footwear in adaptation to the natural environment of the Arctic by utilizing the inherent characteristics of materials from animals. Seal and caribou provide sinew and skins to make clothing and footwear. Even today traditional, hand-made, Inuit boots known as 'kamiks' are essential for survival in the extreme cold of the Arctic.

“We hunt caribou on the coast or inland, depending on the season. There are lots of harp seals migrating along the rocky Labrador coast. We use the skins in our kamiks.”
Beatrice Watts, North West River, 1995

“Seals are used for food, clothing, and tools. Their blubber was burned for light and heat. We show respect to the spirit of the seal by offering dead seals a drink of water.”
Qapik Attagutsiak, Arctic Bay, 1984

Other Natural Materia Read More
"To make kamiks, you need to know someone who hunts so you can get skins. Fall is a good time for skins."
Sarah Ovatuatia Philip, 1996

Boots Made of Animal Skins

The Inuit - one of Canada's aboriginal peoples - developed footwear in adaptation to the natural environment of the Arctic by utilizing the inherent characteristics of materials from animals. Seal and caribou provide sinew and skins to make clothing and footwear. Even today traditional, hand-made, Inuit boots known as 'kamiks' are essential for survival in the extreme cold of the Arctic.

“We hunt caribou on the coast or inland, depending on the season. There are lots of harp seals migrating along the rocky Labrador coast. We use the skins in our kamiks.”
Beatrice Watts, North West River, 1995

“Seals are used for food, clothing, and tools. Their blubber was burned for light and heat. We show respect to the spirit of the seal by offering dead seals a drink of water.”
Qapik Attagutsiak, Arctic Bay, 1984

Other Natural Materials

These boots demonstrate an unusual use of materials available in the environment. The seal skin kamiks are a reddish brown colour because the bleached skin has been smeared with boiled alder bark. The caribou kamiks are decorated with dog skin leg shafts. In the 19th century, when caribou became scarce in places like Belcher Island, the Inuit made footwear from eider duck skin.

©The Bata Shoe Museum, 2005. All Rights Reserved.

Harp Seal

Harp Seal

kevinschafer.com

© kevinschafer.com


Barren Ground Caribou

Barren ground caribou

Henry M. Walker

© Henry M. Walker


Qapik Attagutsiak, Arctic Bay, 1984

Qapik Attagutsiak, Arctic Bay, 1984

Jill Oakes and Rick Riewe.
1984
© Jill Oakes and Rick Riewe.


Minah Mannuk

Minah Mannuk tries on these over slippers, from one eider duck skin each, made by Silatik Meeko, who sits beside her.

Jill Oakes and Rick Riewe.

© Jill Oakes and Rick Riewe.


Labrador Inuit Boots

The seal skin kamiks are a reddish brown colour because the bleached skin has been smeared with boiled alder bark.

The Bata Shoe Museum
1900 - 1950
Alder bark dyed seal skin
P82.45
© The Bata Shoe Museum, 2005. All Rights Reserved.


Iglulik Inuit Boots

The caribou kamiks are decorated with dog skin leg shafts.

The Bata Shoe Museum
1985
Caribou and dog
P89.190
© The Bata Shoe Museum, 2005. All Rights Reserved.


Ungava Inuit outer slippers

Ungava Inuit outer slippers

The Bata Shoe Museum
1989
Eider duck
P89.141
© The Bata Shoe Museum, 2005. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

The learner will :
  • Explain how the environment influenced population (Aboriginal, French and Engilsh) in their culture, lifestyle and economy;
  • Identify the effects that resulted from interaction between Aboriginal peoples and colonizers;
  • Summarize the evolution of the shoes in Canada and involve significant changes to Canada’s development;
  • Analyze the development of Canada through the evolution of shoes.

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