The Making of Saila

The Making of Saila

The Maplelea Girl From the Farthest North!


Over two years of extensive research went into the creation of Saila, the Maplelea Girl who shares her Inuit heritage. In our quest to create a character who would be an accurate reflection of a 10 year old girl growing up in Iqaluit today, we sought out many sources of information.

We participated in the 10th anniversary celebration for the creation of the territory of Nunavut held in Ottawa, attended an Inuit Awareness seminar, consulted with numerous resource people, and read on-line and printed material extensively. Then, president Kathryn Gallagher Morton and her family travelled to Iqaluit where they spent ten days getting to know the city and its people. They sampled traditional country foods, participated in the Christmas Games, stayed in a local home, watched a stone carver at work, talked to craftspeople at a local craft show, attended a bilingual church service (English and Inuktitut), visited a school and other community facilities and agencies, toured the parliament buildings and chatted with a lot of very friendly people.

Kathryn sought out local Maplelea families and asked them for their ideas and suggestions for this new character. While attending the Christmas Games held at a local hall over several evenings, Kathryn had the opportunity to personally interview a number of girls who eagerly shared with her their stories of what it is like to be a young girl growing up in Nunavut today.

We commissioned our Canadian artist to sculpt the new doll and, based on the information we had gathered, created a wardrobe and accessories for her. The journal was written and illustrated and then translated into French and Inuktitut.

We sought out production facilities in Nunavut and were thrilled to contract with Uqqurmiut Centre for Arts and Crafts in Pangnirtung to produce a Pang hat for Saila, and also with Kiluk Ltd. in Arviat to produce an amauti for her.

We wanted Saila to be an interesting, authentic and positive role model, not just for girls of Inuit heritage living in Nunavut, but for all girls living in all parts of Canada. We think we have achieved that. We hope you agree.

We would like to thank all the girls, families and community members of Nunavut who so openly and kindly shared their stories and experiences, only a few of which are shown here. The information was extremely helpful in the creation of our Saila Qilavvaq character.

3 thoughts on “The Making of Saila”

  • Lynne

    What a beautiful doll! I was originally looking at "American Girl" dolls to possibly purchase for my granddaughter when I came across your dolls. I'm SO excited to see these beautiful Canadian dolls!!! I'm thinking of the Manitoba girl since, well, that's where we are from! But I must say your Iqaluit girl, Saila Qilavvaq, is so very cute. I personally know a young woman from Iqaluit who has become a family friend of ours. Her name is Malaya, and she was Miss Nunavut. My nephew Justin moved up there several years ago and introduced us to her on a trip down here. We've since met her several times. I will be showing this to my sister who may want this beautiful doll to give to Malaya!

  • maria

    Do you have a link to an audio translation of the Inuktitut language. I would like to be able to pronounce the words correctly when talking about my daughters Saila doll. I'm not sure how to pronounce Amuiti, or Iqaliut.


    • Maplelea

      Hello Maria,
      I understand our customer service team already responded to you via email, but this is a good question so thought I would post the response for anyone else who has a similar inquiry.
      We were able to locate a website that explains the Inuktitut language and various dialects (and it has audio lessons where you can hear actual words).
      Here is the link:

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