The Inuit wear from two to five layers of footwear depending on the temperature, ground conditions, and activities they perform.

"I add more layers of inner and outer stockings, slippers, and boots until my feet are warm enough for whatever I am doing. I use more layers if I’m going ice fishing and fewer layers for inside."
Elva Pigalak, Coppermine, 1986

Here are four possible layers of footwear in the order that they are put on - inner slipper, outer stocking, boot, over slipper.

Protection for Cold and Dry

Annie Nestor from Coral Harbour, also used traditional materials and techniques to make these layered caribou skin kamiks in 1987. A tall caribou fur inner boot and liner goes inside the brown and white caribou fur outer boot:
inner boots made of caribou fur liners made of caribou fur boots made of caribou fur uppers white depilated (hair removed) bearded seal bottoms dark depilated seal skin between the bottoms and the legs
Read More
The Inuit wear from two to five layers of footwear depending on the temperature, ground conditions, and activities they perform.

"I add more layers of inner and outer stockings, slippers, and boots until my feet are warm enough for whatever I am doing. I use more layers if I’m going ice fishing and fewer layers for inside."
Elva Pigalak, Coppermine, 1986

Here are four possible layers of footwear in the order that they are put on - inner slipper, outer stocking, boot, over slipper.

Protection for Cold and Dry

Annie Nestor from Coral Harbour, also used traditional materials and techniques to make these layered caribou skin kamiks in 1987. A tall caribou fur inner boot and liner goes inside the brown and white caribou fur outer boot:
  • inner boots made of caribou fur
  • liners made of caribou fur
  • boots made of caribou fur uppers
  • white depilated (hair removed) bearded seal bottoms
  • dark depilated seal skin between the bottoms and the legs

Protection for Winter

"These seal skin inner stockings, over slippers, and boots I made are used for really cold winter weather."
Olepa Karpik, Coral Harbour, Northwest Territories

She used traditional materials and techniques to make these layered seal skin kamiks in 1987. Examine the variety of seal skins and the arrangement of layers to appreciate how well these boots suit the environment.

A Variety of Seal Skins

Different types of seal skin serve to provide maximum comfort and warmth for the wearer. Soft skins like baby seal worn close to the skin is thinner and softer than the skins used to make the outer layers of the boots. On the boot, compare the shaved bearded seal skin of the sole to the furred seal skin of the upper boot.

Three Layers of Protection

Look at each layer separately to appreciate how warm the layers could be when assembled.

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

Four sealskin kamik layers

Four sealskin kamik layers

The Bata Shoe Museum

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


Baffinland Inuit Stocking

The baby seal worn close to the skin is thinner and softer than the skins used to make the outer layers of the boots.
On the boot, compare the shaved bearded seal skin of the sole to the furred seal skin of the upper boot.
The over slippers are made with furred seal skin.
All three layers are assembled.

The Bata Shoe Museum
1920
Seal skin
S79.634
© The Bata Shoe Museum, 2005. All Rights Reserved.


Iglulingmiut Boots

A tall caribou fur inner boot and liner goes inside the brown and white caribou fur outer boot.

The Bata Shoe Museum
1987
Caribou Fur
P88.173
© The Bata Shoe Museum, 2005. All Rights Reserved.


Three layers of footwear and an assembled boot

Three layers of footwear and an assembled boot

The Bata Shoe Museum

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


"During the skin boot production process, elders pass on oral traditions to young seamstresses who are interested in traditional rituals and sharing systems. The first pair of skin boots sewn by a young sibling is a symbol of her bond with the traditional lifestyle and the importance of sharing Inuit and Inuvialuit culture."
As told in Inuktitut by Ulayok Kaviok, an Arviat elder, 1985-87

Tools Made for a Woman’s Hand

In the process of outfitting their families, Inuit women prepared the skins through various stages, and constructed skin garments and boots by hand. The ulu is their most valued tool, and is often made to fit their own hands. Its various shapes and sizes serve different cutting and scraping functions. Other tools serve to scrape, soften, and work the skins. Inuit still make and use these tools today, although they sometimes buy them, or use modern rather than natural materials.

"I use one type of scraper for softening caribou skins and another type for seal skins. When I was little I started playing with scrapers and tools by practicing on skins."
Quqshuun, Gjo Read More
"During the skin boot production process, elders pass on oral traditions to young seamstresses who are interested in traditional rituals and sharing systems. The first pair of skin boots sewn by a young sibling is a symbol of her bond with the traditional lifestyle and the importance of sharing Inuit and Inuvialuit culture."
As told in Inuktitut by Ulayok Kaviok, an Arviat elder, 1985-87

Tools Made for a Woman’s Hand

In the process of outfitting their families, Inuit women prepared the skins through various stages, and constructed skin garments and boots by hand. The ulu is their most valued tool, and is often made to fit their own hands. Its various shapes and sizes serve different cutting and scraping functions. Other tools serve to scrape, soften, and work the skins. Inuit still make and use these tools today, although they sometimes buy them, or use modern rather than natural materials.

"I use one type of scraper for softening caribou skins and another type for seal skins. When I was little I started playing with scrapers and tools by practicing on skins."
Quqshuun, Gjoa Haven 1986

"You need a sharp ulu for taking blubber and hair off seal skins. It takes a lot of time to re-sharpen an ulu if someone has let it get in bad shape."
Katherine Kopak, Arviat, 1986

"Straight scrapers are used to press out the excess water and fat from seal hair after washing the skin."
Elisapee Alooloo, Arctic bay, 1984

"I bring this [scraping platform] with me when we go camping for the summer so I can easily shave hair from seal skins. You have to make sure you keep the board clean and flat so you won’t accidentally slice through the skin."
Lydia Akumaliq, Arctic Bay, 1984

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

Woman teaching child

Woman teaching child

Richard Harrington
1947 - 1948
©LACIPA – 129936.


Katherine Kopak, Arviat, 1986

Katherine Kopak, Arviat, 1986

Jill Oakes and Rick Riewe.

© Jill Oakes and Rick Riewe.


Slate and Horn Ulu

Inuit ulu (scraper)

The Bata Shoe Museum
19th Century
Slate and horn
© The Bata Shoe Museum, 2005. All Rights Reserved.


 Labrador Inuit scraper

Labrador Inuit scraper

The Bata Shoe Museum
1979
Caribou antler
S80.1621
© The Bata Shoe Museum, 2005. All Rights Reserved.


Netsilik Inuit Scraper

Netsilik Inuit Scraper

The Bata Shoe Museum
1970 - 1979
Caribou bone
S79.782
© The Bata Shoe Museum, 2005. All Rights Reserved.


Inuit Scraper

Inuit scraper

The Bata Shoe Museum
19th Century
Wood and jadeite
P94.76
© The Bata Shoe Museum, 2005. All Rights Reserved.


Cleaning seal skin

Cleaning seal skin, Arctic Bay, July 1984

Jill Oakes and Rick Riewe.

© Jill Oakes and Rick Riewe.


Fleshing board

Fleshing board

The Bata Shoe Museum
1980 - 1988
Wood
P89.62
© The Bata Shoe Museum, 2005. All Rights Reserved.


Ungava Inuit Ulu

Ungava Inuit Ulu

The Bata Shoe Museum
1980 - 1988
Copper and wood
P89.70
© 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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