Inuk artisan partners with big box store to sell uluit

(Photo courtesy of Ken Mackay)

Kenneth Mackay has just signed a deal with Simons Canada to sell his hand-crafted knives, called uluit, online.

“It’s a pretty big deal,” he says, “They’re a big company.”

Uluit is a traditional Inuit multi-purpose knife used to cut through tough materials, such as seal, beluga, and caribou. Although Mackay suggests using it as a pizza cutter as well.

Mackay is an Inuk craftsman from Yellowknife, he says, “I love working with my hands. And I always like to improve on each one I make.”

Inspired by his grandmother, Mackay has been making them out of anything he can find, recycling materials like old saw blades, stone, bone, and scrap wood.

“Inuit have always been resourceful,” he says.

It started about four years ago out of necessity when his wife needed a tool to cut through a bunch of country meats. Once word got out, orders started pouring in, he says.

He thanks the mentorship of his father-in-law for helping him craft his initial uluit.

A hand-crafted antler handle ulu as part of the Tarraq collection at Simons. (Photo courtesy of Kenneth Mackay)

“It helps with that connection that I’ve had with family,” he adds.

Mackay quickly found himself in high demand, so he took his creations to social media.

Due to Facebook’s community guidelines and policies, the uluit were recognized as weapons and the posts were removed.

Now Mackay’s ancestral uluit can be appreciated and purchased by all online.

“They last forever,” he says.

This new partnership with Simons is due to an initiative with Canadian creators from across the country, the program is called Fabrique 1840 and focuses on “quality, uniqueness, sustainability and Canadian know-how.”

The company sent him a letter requesting this union, he says.

 

About the Author

Mariah Caruso
Mariah Caruso is a digital journalist, originally from Toronto, Canada. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a Hons. Bachelor of Arts and completed her Journalism post-grad at Sheridan College. She has an insatiable appetite for life, storytelling, connecting to the people, and getting to the heart of the issue. Mariah is excited to begin her journey and career in Yellowknife, NWT, and get involved with the community. If you have a story idea, feel free to send her an email at mariah.caruso@cklbradio.com