Thursday, January 31, 2008


One of the things I always wanted to get when I moved to Nunavut was a good pair of kamiks (kamiik), or sealskin boots. It took me awhile but I finally...finally....managed to get a pair last night. In the past it either kept slipping my mind, work got in the way, the sun-moon alignment.....yadda yadda yadda. But no more. I'm now the proud owner of some pretty snazzy boots.

I wore them to work today and created a bit of a stir. Everyone had to take a peak at them. I was a little bewildered by it all since it seemed to me that you could always find someone here wearing them just by randomly running into people around town. I think part of the reaction had to do with the fact that no one had ever seen me wearing them before and I know I have yet to see any male qallunaat teachers wearing them in the time I've been here. But whatever. I have them and they are fantastic.

They were a little awkard to have on at first. It felt like wearing some sort of slipper. But I wore them to, from and during work to break them in. When I first tried them on last night, I remember fretting over which kamik went on which foot! As it turns out, it doesn't matter since after you wear them long enough they will start to form to the shape of your foot. All the female staff members had to come and take a look at the stitching and ask me what I thought of them. The only reply I could give of course was "Piujuq!" (beautiful).

A kamik has two parts to it - an outer sealskin shell, the part you see in the photograph above, and, an inner felt liner, kinda of like a big long sock. There is also a bottom part to the boot which fits inside the liner called a pinaraq, which adds warmth and a little padding to the boot. I didn't wear this part of the ensemble (mainly because it would have made the kamik a little too snug on my foot) so I did find it a little chilly on the feet when I was outside. But I'm hoping to either figure out a way to make the pinaraq or substitute with a good pair of thermal socks. At any rate, they are my kamiks and I'm very pleased with them.

....oh yes, and they are water-proof as well. I walked through many a random puddle of melted snow around the school entrances just because I could.


Anonymous said...

Oh god, I don't mean to be one of "those" people but I think a pair is spelled "kamiik". And I think you should alternate wearing them on feet (don't always the same kamik on one foot... switch them around). It will wear better on the bottom. But maybe ask someone about that.

But enough of me correcting (sorry). They are beautiful!

- north Baffin Inuk living in Iqaluit

Way Way Up said...

Thanks anonymous its "those" people that keep me on my toes. I thought the word looked a little funny when I first did up the post. Thank you for the correction.....and the good advice on wearing them to make them last. Greatly appreciated!

Kate Nova said...

Lucky you! They are lovely.

Bonnieupnorth said...

I have also heard you need to switch feet to wear evenly.

Mailin said...

Could you tell me the Inuit name for the liner in the Kamik, I looked on the internet under Inuit felt liner that is how I cam to you blog.
Much obliged,

Way Way Up said...

Mailin, while there are a few different dialects, and a strong likelihood of a few different words, I'll ask around and see what I come up with. Thanks for visiting my blog.

Mailin said...

Thank you for your prompt response, I guess that I am looking for a word used as much as kamiik. A bientôt,

Way Way Up said...

Mailin, the duffle socks for the inside of kamiik are called aliqsi. Thank you for your question.

earth3rd said...

I read in a book called "Nunaga" by Duncan Pryde, for maximum warmth you would wear the felt sock then one pair with the fur on the inside and one pair with the fur on the outside. Also the warmest kamiks were made out of the leg skin of a caribou. I heard the seal skin ones were not as warm.