Canada Goose in Nunavut: The Most Remote Pop-up You’ll Ever Find
Reaching Pangnirtung in Nunavut is no easy feat. After one flight to Ottawa and another to Iqaluit, we overnight and rise early to catch a plane into this Inuit hamlet of 1,500 people. The word ‘into’ is apt here, because we fly over Cumberland Sound’s crystal green waters, between two massive fjords onto what I’m warned is an especially short runway. I brace myself for the brakes. We’re just 50 km south of the Arctic Circle and the startling scenery on arrival reminds me of Han Solo flight maneuvering in Star Wars meets HBO’s Game of Thrones.
This might be my first trip into the Arctic, but I’m here to see a Canada Goose Resource Centre so, I’m travelling with people who know the North well. Canada Goose Chief Brand Officer Kevin Spreekmeester is a longtime employee and former photojournalist, with extensive experience in the Arctic. Also on board our First Air flight: more than 10,000 metres of Canada Goose materials to be given to Inuit sewers in the hamlet. These rolls of material are either too small for commercial production, or fabrics that have been discontinued. Boxes of heavy-duty zippers, Canada Goose patches, wrist and waistband elastics have also made the journey. For obvious reasons, it’s hard to get materials this far north. But historically Inuit people have been resourceful people and excellent sewers who avoid wasting a single thing. “We want to support the Inuit tradition of sewing,” says Spreekmeester. “And we solve our waste problem. In the past this might been thrown out.” Canada Goose started the pop-up resource centre in 2007, and it moves around to various Arctic communities as often as three times a year.
Once materials are moved from the pink and yellow airport (Arctic airports appear to be colourful, presumably so they can be spotted in bad weather) to a nearby community centre, tables are set up for bolts of material. All week the local radio has been advertising this day, but things seem quiet, and I wonder if the event will be a bust.
After noon people start to file in. Soon the line is 25 people deep, and the Canada Goose and First Air volunteers are all on their feet shearing off materials by request. Camouflage goes fast, and then yellow material for its visibility, then a green textile with reflective stars on it. Eventually, the crowd grows more and I’m jumping in with scissors to help. There are elder women here, men, teenagers, and young mothers in traditional “Amauti,” a baby carrier parka. Little people faces lob into view as their moms stop to inspect the fabric while my oblique muscles get an unexpected workout from twisting over the table to handle bolts of material.
At least 300 stream through the Canada Goose Resource Centre. One is a group of women (and one man) who are attending a local college program that, coincidentally, includes a unit on parka making. It’s the college’s way of connecting students with their culture says teacher Sheila Dialla, who was born and raised in Pangnirtung. “It’s to strengthen Inuit vocabulary and the Inuit way of life. Inuit people have always worn parkas so this will help us continue the tradition. We live in the Arctic, it’s cold we need warm parkas. In the past we used duffel but nowadays, there is no duffel,” she says, with her arms full of material. “This will help.”