Archive for the ‘FAQ’ Category

What’s in a Name?

Nunavik is the homeland for the Inuit of Québec, comprising the northern third of the province above the 55th parallel. Nunavik means “a place to live”, and the people of Nunavik refer to themselves as Nunavimmiut. There are 14 villages in Nunavik with a total population of approximately 11,500.  The urban centres of Montreal and Quebec City are also home for many Nunavik Inuit.

The British were the first European nation to lay claim to most of what is now Canada’s arctic territory, including present day Nunavik. The claim was based on three voyages led by Martin Frobisher to Baffin Island between1576-1578. The newly discovered lands were originally named Meta Incognita (Unknown Frontier) by Queen Elizabeth I.

In 1670, the Hudson Bay Company was incorporated by royal charter under King Charles II. The charter granted a trading monopoly within the drainage basin of the Hudson Bay. Although the specific boundaries of this region were unknown at the time, it constituted nearly one third of present day Canada and part of the United States. It was named (Prince) Rupert’s Land after the King’s first cousin.

In 1870, Prince Rupert’s Land was sold for £300,000 to the Dominion of Canada. It was combined with the North-Western Territory as renamed the Northwest Territories. The remaining British Arctic Territories, including “all islands adjacent to such territories” whether discovered or not, were officially ceded to Canada in 1880. The legitimacy of this act has been and continues to be disputed by a number of international countries.

The lands between Québec and the Hudson Strait became known as the District of Ungava of the Northwest Territories in 1895.

In 1912, under the Québec Boundaries Extensions Act, the federal government expanded the territory of the Province of Québec to include the District of Ungava. This included the traditional lands of the aboriginal Cree, Montagnais, Naskapi, and Inuit. The area became known as Nouveau- Québec.

This transfer was subject to the condition that Québec government negotiate a treaty with the indigenous people of the region, recognizing their cultural rights and surrendering their title to the land to Québec and Canada.

In 1975, the James Bay and Northern Québec agreement is signed. Under this agreement, the Northern Québec Inuit Association negotiated the present day boundaries of Kativik Region, defined as all lands in Québec north of the 55th parallel.

Inuit elders applied the name Nunavik to their traditional lands during place name and land-use surveys conducted during the 1970s. In 1999, the Makivik Corporation and the governments of Canada and Québec signed the Nunavik Accord, which established the framework to negotiate regional self-government


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There are no name brand hotels, no condos, and no time share resorts boasting swimming pools in Nunavik.  Instead, a handful of small hotels in the villages offer basic comforts, along with meals prepared on request.  In the shared guest areas, local Inuit and travelers mix freely, and swapping travel stories is not uncommon.  Outside of the villages, camping is the norm in most places, but Pingualuit National Park offers beautiful, environmentally-friendly bungalows to stay in, each with spectacular views.

Here is a view of one of our hotels in Ivujivik to give you an idea of the community:

360 degree view

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Nunavik winters are cold and dark – that’s no secret – but its the absolute best time of year to see the northern lights for the very same reason. And there’s lots of neat things going on in the communities during the Christmas holidays. Community feasts, square dancing, traditional skills competitions and games. Very non-touristy, but the villages are always welcoming.

The spring time is a favourite for most people – long days of sunshine, relatively warm, everyone is happy after the long dark winter, and you can still enjoy winter activities like dog sledding and igloo making. The annual snow festival in Purvirnituq happens this time of year, with giant snow and ice sculptures being created by master Inuit carvers. Very impressive to see.

Summers are really great to. This is a time to get out boating and camping – see the abundant wildlife that are gathering to feed on the open tundra, or visit one of the many islands and paddle around in a kayak. Days are super long – the sun hardly setting at all. You can go hiking and exploring, pick berries, have a picnic. People are out and about at all hours – the Akpik Jam music festival in August draws people from all over North America. It’s a fantastic time of year.

The only times that are not great for travel in the north are about 6 weeks centered on the month of June,  and about 6 weeks around October. These are the transition periods from winter to summer and back again. Travel outside of the communities is difficult during these times because there can be too much ice on the water for boats, but not enough for skidoos or too much for hondas. It can be really muddy in the spring transition, and the fall transition is marked by storms and miserable rain. But other than that – it really depends what you want to do when you get there.

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