Nunavut Guide

Maps of communities

The current population of Nunavut is 33 330, 84% of which is Inuit. Of the 28 000 Inuit living in Nunavut, more than half live in the Qikiqtaaluk region, and nearly three-quarters are aged under 40.

The regions

Nunavut is divided into three regions: Qikiqtaaluk, Kivalliq and Kitikmeot. 

 

The region of Qikiqtaaluk, also known as Qikitani and previously known as the region of Baffin, is made up of a multitude of islands and includes the Melville peninsula as well as Prince-de-Galles and Somerset islands in the north. Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut, is located in this region.

 

The region of Kivalliq includes the area situated to the west of Hudson’s Bay, as well as the islands of Coats and Southampton. This region was named Keewatin before the creation of Nunavut in 1999. The regional capital of Kivalliq is Rankin Inlet.

 

The region of Kitikmeot consists of the areas to the South and East of Victoria Island and reaches all the way to the Boothia Peninsula, including King-William Island and the southern part of Prince-de-Galles. The regional capital of Kitikmeot is Cambridge Bay.

The communities

Among Nunavut’s 25 communities, the following are those that have the highest potential for economic and tourism development.

Arctic Bay / Ikpiarjuk - ᐃᒃᐱᐊᕐᔪᒃ

Arctic Bay is a small and vibrant traditional community located at the Northwest extremity of Baffin Island.

 

Population: 750 (95% Inuit)
Languages: Inuktitut, English

 

To See: There are impressive geological formations around Arctic Bay, with hoodoos - tall stone pillars with flattened tops - and steep cliffs of red rock. The erosion caused by repeated glaciations has carved out deep valleys and magnificent fiords including Admiralty Inlet, the longest fiord in the world.

 

To Discover: The artists and seamstresses of Arctic Bay create high-quality marble carvings and renowned traditional clothing. The Qimatuligvik Heritage Organisation is a great place to learn more about the local Inuit culture, with a slideshow as well as a gift shop featuring arts and crafts. The area is also home to many species of marine mammals such as bowhead whales, narwhals and seals, and even polar bears can be found here. 

 

To Do: Discovering the High Arctic via the North-West passage on a cruise ship is a unique experience. The sheltered port of Arctic Bay is ideal for welcoming yachts during the summer. Hiking, camping and fishing are very popular activities in the Sirmilik National Park. Snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and dogsledding are also popular in winter. Traditional Inuit games, competitions, dances and community feasts take place here each spring in association with the annual dog sledding race between the communities of Arctic Bay and Igloolik.

Arviat - ᐊᕐᕕᐊᑦ

The village of Arviat is the southernmost community of Nunavut. It has always been inhabited by the Inuit and is the perfect place to experience the natural riches of Nunavut.

 

Population: 2,800  (of which 92% are Inuit)
Languages: Inuktitut, English

 

To See: The landscape surrounding Arviat is known for its tundra and eskers – glaciated formations in the shape of an elongated ridge – and for its innumerable small lakes and extensive network of rivers. In summertime, the land becomes carpeted with many coloured flowers, lichens, willows and mosses.

 

To Discover: The Arviarmiut (residents of Arviat!) are renowned for their musical traditions. Several well-known Inuit performers such as Charlie Panigoniak and Susan Aglukark are native of the region. During the month of October, Arviat hosts the Inuumariit Music Festival. Stone sculptures and carvings by Arviat’s local artists are also renowned across the world.

 

To Do: The best way to appreciate the beauty and serenity of the area is to explore the landscape on cross-country skis, by dogsled or by snowmobile. The Whale’s Tail monument and the historical sites of Arvia'juaq and Qikiqtaarjuk are not to be missed. The McConnell River Migratory Bird Sanctuary, with its thousands of birds, is also a must-see. Further inland, numerous caribou can be seen, whilst along the coast and at the floe edge, seals, belugas and many polar bears can be found.

Baker Lake / Qamani’tuaq - ᖃᒪᓂᑦᑐᐊᖅ

Baker Lake is the only inland Inuit community, at the mouth of the Thelon Heritage River.

 

Population: 1,728 (of which 92% are Inuit)
Languages: Inuktitut, English, French

 

To See: Located on the shores of a large lake and close to the Thelon Wildlife Sanctuary, Baker Lake is the perfect spot to enjoy ecotourism! This sanctuary is the largest of its kind in North America, encompassing 52,000 km2 of protected land, populated with musk ox, caribou, geese and grizzly bears.

 

To Discover: The Jessie Oonark Arts and Crafts Centre is an art studio and shop selling local products, sculptures, engravings, clothing and jewellery. The Inuit Heritage Centre makes audio recordings of oral history and legends, thus preserving and teaching the traditional Inuit culture and way of life.

 

To Do: Outdoor enthusiasts will be spoilt for choice at Baker Lake: hiking, camping, canoeing, hunting fishing, dogsledding and snowmobiling are all available. For those who enjoy catching fish, a fishing competition is held each year in May. Festivals that include games and traditional feasts take place at the beginning of May and at Christmas. Canoeists and kayakers wishing to explore the Thelon and Kazan rivers particularly appreciate the nearby Inuujaarvik Territorial Park with its camping facilities.

Cambridge Bay / Iqaluktuuttiaq - ᐃᖃᓗᒃᑑᑦᑎᐊᖅ

Cambridge Bay is the regional capital of Kitikmeot. It is the largest port of call for passenger and research vessels traversing the Northwest Passage. 

 

Population: 1,477 (of which 83% are Inuit)
Languages: Inuktitut, Inuinnaqtun, English

 

To See: This region of Nunavut has been inhabited for 4,000 years. It boasts a rich history and is teeming with fish, seals, geese, musk ox and caribou. Visit the Ovayok Territorial Park located approximately 15 km to the east of Cambridge Bay, on Victoria Island. The park’s main attraction is a storied mountain.

 

To Discover: Beautiful Inuit artworks made from marble, soapstone, serpentine, ivory, antler, bronze, brass, silver and turquoise gemstone can be purchased at a variety of locations in Cambridge Bay. Some local artists such as Inuk Charlie have sold artwork worldwide.

 

To Do: Known for both the abundance and the size of fish in its waters (such as arctic char), the area attracts amateur fishing enthusiasts. Birders will be entranced by a visit to the Queen Maud Gulf Migratory Bird Sanctuary, the largest protected federal bird sanctuary in Canada. Visiting the ancient archaeological sites previously inhabited by the Pre-Dorset, Dorset and Thule people is a truly inspiring experience. 

Cape Dorset / Kinngait - ᑭᙵᐃᑦ

Also known as « Kinngait » in Inuktitut, Cape Dorset is located on the island of Dorset close to the Foxe Peninsula, at the southwestern tip of Baffin Island.


Population: 1,236 (of which 91% are Inuit)
Languages: Inuktitut, English

 

To see: With its arctic breathtaking landscapes, Dorset Island and neighbouring Mallikjuat Island, are unique places for observing and photographing migratory species such as caribou, seabirds, seals and walrus. At times, bowhead whales and polar bears can also be seen.

 

To discover: Considered the capital of Inuit art, Cape Dorset is renowned throughout the world for the quality of its artwork. Engraving, drawing and sculpture constitute the most important sources of revenue for the region. Make your way to the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative and to Kinngail Studios to admire some exceptional works of art and meet artists.

 

To do: If you visit the region, a walk in Mllikjuag Park is a must-see. Located a 45 minute walk away from Cape Dorset, this park offers a series of archaeological sites (from the time of the Dorset people) with stone structures that are some 3000 years old. Visitors to the park enjoy hiking in the neighbouring hills, discovering isolated falls and lakes with crystal clear water. There are also ice floes to admire (floating sea ice) slowly drifting.

Clyde River / Kangiqtugaapik - ᑲᖏᖅᑐᒑᐱᒃ

This hamlet is surrounded by spectacular fiords formed from the Baffin mountains along the north-eastern coast of Baffin Island.

 

Population: 850 (of which 95% are Inuit)
Languages: Inuktitut, English

 

To See: Ten spectacular fiords can be found within a 100 kilometre radius of this village, including the Sam Ford Fiord, recognised worldwide for its vertiginous cliffs frequented by climbers. The landscape of the region is so extraordinary and unique that the region may soon acquire the status of a territorial park.

 

To Discover: The artists of Kangiqtugaapik are renowned for the quality of their sculptures carved from whalebone and from a distinctive green stone found north of Clyde River. The Piqqusilirivvik Inuit Cultural School is known for its teachings about traditional Inuit culture. 

 

To Do: The mountains, icebergs and glaciers in the area around Clyde River attract climbing enthusiasts. Other popular recreational activities include exploring the region by snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle; dogsledding or boating expeditions are also possible depending on the season. Throughout the year, community feasts and celebrations are organized for Canada Day (July 1), Nunavut Day (July 9), and for Christmas and End of Year celebrations.

Igloolik - ᐃᒡᓗᓕᒃ

Located on a little island in the far northeast of the Melville Peninsula and on the Foxe Basin, Igloolik is a cultural epicentre of the Inuit people.

 

Population: 1,538 (of which 95% are Inuit)
Languages: Inuktitut, English

 

To See: Home to a very vibrant artistic community, this lovely little island, which has been inhabited for more than 4,000 years, is an ideal destination to experience arctic life: dogsledding excursions, whale watching, icebergs and the Northern Lights all await.

 

To Discover: The internationally acclaimed film “Atanarjuat — The Fast Runner” was produced and filmed here. Igloolik is also home to Artcirq, the only Inuit circus troupe in the world, and each summer in June, the hamlet hosts the Rockin' Walrus Arts Festival, a festival of music, dance, acrobatics and cultural performances.

 

To Do: Here you will find a number of fascinating archaeological sites. In the springtime, activities such as dogsledding and snowmobiling excursions, igloo camping or iceberg climbing are all possible. At the beginning of April, visitors can join community feasts and traditional Inuit games to commemorate the anniversary of the founding of Igloolik. Local guides will be happy to escort you and help you discover everything that makes this area so special.

Iqaluit - ᐃᖃᓗᐃᑦ

Iqaluit is the capital of Nunavut. This dynamic and growing town is the largest in the territory.

 

Population: 7,250 (of which 60% are Inuit)
Languages: Inuktitut, English, French

 

To See: Iqaluit is situated on pleasant rolling hills graced by rocky outcrops and lush valleys. The tides of Frobisher Bay ebb and flow twice daily, rising 8 to 12 metres. These are the second highest tides in Canada after those at the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia. Also a must-see: the historic Qaummaarviit Territorial Park, The Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park and the Katannilik Territorial Park.

 

To Discover: Iqaluit is home to an authentic artistic tradition. Sculptures, engravings, jewellery and exquisitely made traditional Inuit clothing can all be found here. Every summer, the Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association (NACA) organises an exhibition promoting Inuit artists. The Unikkaarvik Visitor Centre and Museum showcase the lands, people and history of Nunavut.

 

To Do: Dogsledding, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling are very popular activities. Motorboating, river rafting by inflatable boat or kayak, kite skiing and tobogganing are also enjoyed. In summer, places abound to go hiking, camping or berry-picking, and there’s never a lack of opportunities for hunting or fishing trips, in both summer and winter. Permits are easily available and local guides can advise you about the best locations.

Kugluktuk - ᖁᕐᓗᖅᑐᖅ

Kugluktuk is the westernmost community in Nunavut. It is located north of the Arctic Circle, at the mouth of the Coppermine River.

 

Population: 1,400 (of which 90% are Inuit)
Languages: Inuinnaqtun, English

 

To See: Kuglutuk signifies “place of swiftly moving water” and the word kigluk means “waterfall.” Upriver from this welcoming hamlet is the Kugluk Waterfall (Bloody Falls) and an ancient hunting and fishing site that is now a historical Territorial Park. This park is one of the main attractions of the region.

 

To Discover: The Kugluktuk Heritage Visitor Centre and museum showcase beautiful artwork including sculptures made from materials such as dolomite, musk-ox horn, walrus tusk, caribou antler and bleached whalebone. In April, during the “Nattiq Frolics” festival, visitors can take part in games and dancing, and sample traditional meals.  

 

To do: During the high season, when the land is bursting with wildflowers, many species of berries and grasses, canoeists, kayakers and inflatable boat enthusiasts make a return trip between Kugluktuk and Bloody Falls. Hiking, hunting, fishing and snowmobiling are also popular outdoor activities. You can even play some golf! The Kugluktuk Golf Club has an 18-hole course along the shores of Coronation Gulf.

Pangnirtung - ᐸᖕᓂᖅᑑᖅ

This little village is located 50 kilometres south of the Arctic Circle, on the edge of an ancient beach in the Pangnirtung Fiord.

 

Population: 1,550 (of which 95% are Inuit)
Languages: Inuktitut, English

 

To See: Also referred to by its nickname “Pang,” this community is situated on a magnificent fiord. The spectacular mountainous landscape and glaciers here are very popular with hikers and skiers. Pangnirtung is also the southern gateway to the famous Auyuittuq National Park.

 

To Discover: Pangnirtung is renowned for the quality of its tapestries and lithographic prints. The Uqqurmiut Inuit Arts Centre weaving workshop is one of the most important cultural attraction in the region. The community is also famous for making a unique style of crocheted winter hat called the “Pang Hat.” 

 

To Do: Whether you dream of climbing rugged peaks, skiing on ice fields extending as far as the eye can see, or hiking the scenic Akshayak Pass; Auyuittuq National Park is the place to go!  Don’t miss visiting the recently redeveloped Piskutinu Tunngavik Territorial Park and campground, the ideal place to camp whilst staying in Pangnirtung. On the island of Kekerten, The Kekerten Territorial park, accessible from Pangnirtung by a pleasant 3 hour boat ride, was established on grounds that were first used as a whaling station.

Pond Inlet / Mittimatalik - ᒥᑦᑎᒪᑕᓕᒃ

Pond Inlet overlooks Eclipse Sound and the mountains of Bylot Island, a migratory bird sanctuary.

 

Population: 1,300 (of which 95% are Inuit)
Languages: Inuktitut, English

 

To See: A popular tourist destination, the picturesque hamlet of Pond Inlet is considered to be one of the jewels of the Canadian North. Surrounded by spectacular fiords, glaciers and icebergs, Pond Inlet is famous for the great numbers of narwhals and belugas that live in its waters.

 

To Discover: Pond Inlet is home to the community Tununiq Arsarniit Theatre Group. Founded in 1987, this theatre company writes and performs their own work, and ensures that the Inuit language and culture is present in each of their pieces.

 

To Do: Close to the parks of Tamaarvik and Sirmilik, Pond Inlet offers an impressive variety of outdoor activities. There are ice caves to explore, hoodoos to marvel at and wild animals that live in the area to enjoy. Cross-country skiing and igloo camping are popular visitor activities in winter. Kayaking between icebergs or going boating to watch narwhals or to fish are also popular activities in the late spring and early summer.

Qikiqtarjuaq - ᕿᑭᖅᑕᕐᔪᐊᖅ

Qikiqtarjuaq is located on Broughton Island near the east coast of Baffin Island at the Davis Strait.

 

Population: 520 (of which 95% are Inuit)
Languages: Inuktitut, English

 

To See: Surrounded by the hills of Broughton Island, Qikiqtarjuaq is located near the Baffin Mountains, part of the Arctic Cordillera mountain range. Qikiqtarjuaq, affectionately named “Qik,” is known as the iceberg capital of Nunavut.

 

To Discover: Qikiqtarjuaq has a well-developed clothing industry, and traditional Inuit clothes as well as Inuit artwork such as sculptures, engravings and jewellery can be purchased from the local arts and crafts shop.

 

To do: The hamlet of Qikiqtarjuaq offers an exceptional viewpoint for spotting marine mammals such as narwhal, killer whales, walruses and seals. In the autumn, guides can even take you to see polar bears from a safe distance. Qikiqtarjuaq is located at the northern entrance to the famous Auyuittuq National Park, offering a range of activities. Travelling inland from “Qik” leads to breathtaking views of mountains and glaciers, including Mount Thor and its 1500 metre cliff face.

Rankin Inlet / Kangiqtiniq - ᑲᖏᖅᖠᓂᖅ

This modern and bustling community is the centre of government for the region of Kivalliq.

 

Population: 2,500 (of which 80% are Inuit)
Languages: Inuktitut, English

 

To See: Gateway to Nunavut and the largest hamlet of this territorial region, Rankin Inlet is nestled in rolling hills interspersed with flat terrain and complex rock formations. The tundra is blanketed with little wild flowers during the summer months, and wind-carved, snowdrifts in winter.

 

To Discover: Rankin Inlet is the only community with an Inuit ceramic workshop. Local artists use a variety of materials and techniques, including ceramics, stone engraving, bronze, watercolour and drawing. The Matchbox Gallery is an excellent place to discover these masterpieces.

 

To Do: A vsit to the Iqalugaarjuup Nunanga Territorial Park is a must when visiting this region. This park was created to preserve both archaeological sites and the natural habitat of numerous species of wild animals. With a rich history, this site is a hiking, camping and fishing paradise. Also worth visiting is Marble Island, composed of a unique sedimentary rock that gives it a whitish, marble-like appearance. In the spring, Pakallak Tyme, a festival featuring traditional games, competitions, dancing and community feasts is a must.