Inuit Women’s Survival Skills, Which Kept Arctic Explorers Alive, Help Heal Residential School Survivors

Cécile R. Ganteaume, Smithsonian Magazine, May 23, 2018

"On May 4, the National Museum of the American Indian’s Cultural Resources Center was privileged to host a delegation of four remarkable Inuit women from Nunavut—Bernadette Dean, Rosie Kowna Oolooyuk, Manitok Thompson, and Veronica Connelly. All are highly skilled caribou and sealskin clothing makers and were in Washington, D.C., as guests of the Embassy of Canada to attend the opening reception for the exhibition Captain George Comer and the Inuit of Hudson Bay. Denis Chouinard, the embassy’s public affairs counselor, was responsible for this outstanding act of cultural diplomacy. It involved inviting the Inuit women not only to attend the exhibition’s opening, but also to speak at the symposium that preceded the opening and to visit the collections of historic Inuit clothing housed by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, as well as in the Cultural Resources Center.

 Photo courtesy of Cécile R. Ganteaume, Smithsonian Voices

Photo courtesy of Cécile R. Ganteaume, Smithsonian Voices

Presented in the embassy’s gallery, Captain George Comer and the Inuit of Hudson Bay was organized by the Mystic Seaport Museum in partnership with the embassy and the Canadian Museum of History. Fred Calabretta, Mystic Seaport Museum curator of collections and oral historian, as well as the exhibition’s curator, and John Moses, Canadian Museum of History repatriation supervisor, were also symposium panelists, as was Bernadette Driscoll Engelstad, a research collaborator with Natural History’s Arctic Studies Center. Stephen Loring, an Arctic archaeologist on the staff of the Arctic Studies Center, organized and moderated the symposium."

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