What Is In Nunavut, Canada's Far North? - Inuit Art, Dinosaurs and Uranium

Nunavut Territory: Founded April 1, 1999

Sample vehicle license plate.
Sample vehicle license plate. | Source

Nunavut is "Our Land"

All of Nunavut, or from the Inuit, Our Land, lies north of the tree-line. That means that no trees grow in this Northern Canadian territory, although people, some native plants, and animals live there. Other northern territories include Yukon and Northwest Territories, as well as others.

The Peterson Ice Shelf is significant of all the abundant ice in the region, because many countries are planting national flags on it in attempts to claim the North Pole as their own.Other ice in Northern Canada has melted enough to reveal the Northwest Passages, which explorers sought for centuries as a short cut to the East.

Most famously, the Russians placed a flag on the ice shelf, but the world seems to be ignoring it. However, the Geographic North Pole moves 40 miles farther towards Russia every year. By 2012, it was already out of Northern Canada.

The Canada Post has assigned postal code H0H 0H0 to the North Pole, in honor of Santa Claus and his Ho Ho Ho.

Inuit Elders

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Inuits live in Alaska, Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut, as well as additional far Northern areas of Canada and Greenland. Inuit family in 1915, resembling a Saami family in Northern Europe.Inuit dancers near Nome, Alaska in 1900.
Inuits live in Alaska, Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut, as well as additional far Northern areas of Canada and Greenland.
Inuits live in Alaska, Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut, as well as additional far Northern areas of Canada and Greenland. | Source
Inuit family in 1915, resembling a Saami family in Northern Europe.
Inuit family in 1915, resembling a Saami family in Northern Europe.
Inuit dancers near Nome, Alaska in 1900.
Inuit dancers near Nome, Alaska in 1900.
STOP in Inuktitut syllabics.
STOP in Inuktitut syllabics. | Source

The Land and People

Western Europe could fit inside Nunavut, but just over 33,000 people live in this territory in 2014. Nunavut is the portion of Canada that is exhibiting the fastest rate of population growth at over 3.0% and its media age is gradually decreasing, being in the late 20s at this writing. The 15 to 24 year old age group is the largest in the population, per Statistics Canada news releases.

Of these people in Nunavut, over 80% are Inuit, a people formerly called "Eskimos." That name it not the name they call themselves (Inuit). but a name others have called them and they reject it.

The government of the territory states that four official languages are recognized: Inuinnaqtun, Inuktitut, English, and French. All four use the same alphabet, but the first two also use another alphabet called syllabics.

Nunavut’s capital city, Iqaluit. is home to numerous families that are bilingual in an Inuit language and French, dating back to earlier years when French trappers settled in the area.

The Canadian Federal Government does not want the two Inuit languages to become lost languages. The Inuit Language Protection Act is the only Act in country that protects a First Nation language. One of its goals is to provide Indigenous language instruction in all schools by 2019.

Several other languages were reported spoken in homes during the Canadian Census of 2011. These included Cree, Innu, and dozens of non-Aboriginal languages that exclude French and English.

The Inuit Year

The Inuit Year has eight seasons or divisions around the outside of the circle in the graphic below. Interestingly, the circle is aligned with the Far Eastern concept of the world being a circle marked by eight points. Full Moons are likely named for these particular eight seasons.

The Traditional Year of the Inuit People

Source

The Northwest Passage

Most of us heard something about The Northwest Passage in school K-12, and about how no one could find it hundreds of years ago. During the late 20th and early 21st centuries, enough ice melted to open up passages completely through the northern parts of Canada (see from the International Space Station) and some freighters began using these waterways through Nunavut.

The Northwest Passage

A markerNunavut -
Nunavut, Canada
[get directions]

Duck-Billed Dinosaurs

In 2014, duck-billed dinosaurs were recently discovered in the far north of the North American Continent, from Alaska across Canada to Nunavut in areas near the Peterson Ice Shelf and Greenland. The latter is the farthest point north for any such discovery globally.

Petersen Ice Shelf - Northern Coast of Ellesmere Island, Near Greenland. Dinosaur Fossils Were Found Nearby.

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A markerEllesmere Island -
Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, Canada
[get directions]

B markerAxel Heiberg Island -
Axel Heiberg Island, Baffin, Unorganized, NU, Canada
[get directions]

Location of duck-billed dinosaur bone.

Additional Fossil Discoveries

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Only three fossils were discovered of this fishapod. Laccognathus embryi, a lobe-finned fish; 22 fossils were discovered in the same place as the fishapod.
Only three fossils were discovered of this fishapod.
Only three fossils were discovered of this fishapod. | Source
Laccognathus embryi, a lobe-finned fish; 22 fossils were discovered in the same place as the fishapod.
Laccognathus embryi, a lobe-finned fish; 22 fossils were discovered in the same place as the fishapod. | Source

Important References

Language Commissioner of Nunavut, Canada.

Statistics Canada. http://www.statcan.gc.ca

Vavrek, Matthew J.; Hills, Len V.; Currie, Philip J. A Hadrosaurid (Dinosauria: Ornithischia) from the Late Cretaceous (Campanian) Kanguk Formation of Axel Heiberg Island, Nunavut, Canada, and Its Ecological and Geographical Implications. Arctic Institute of North America. Vol 67. No. 1 (2014).

White, Adrienne; Copland, Luke; Mueller, Derek; Van Wychen, Wesley. Assessment of historical changes (1959–2012) and the causes of recent break-ups of the Petersen ice shelf, Nunavut, Canada. Annals of Glaciology 56(69) 2015; pg. 65 - 76.

  • The ice shelf was stable until June 2005, with major calving events during summers of 2005, 2008, 2011 and 2012 that resulted in the loss of about 61% of the June 2005 ice-shelf area. The shelf is becoming weaker and may disappear in the 2040s.
  • In 2012, Geological Survey of Canada found the pole to lie just beyond Ellesmere Island in Nunavut, Canada at 85.9°N 147.0°W.

Uranium Mining: Kiggavik Uranium Project

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A markerBaker Lake NU -
Baker Lake, NU, Canada
[get directions]

B markerKivalliq -
Kivalliq Street, Rankin Inlet, NU X0C, Canada
[get directions]

Uranium Mine 2015 - 2017

Nunavut’s first uranium mine will open in 2015, 80 km west of Baker Lake, the community with lowest unemployment rate in the territory (see site "G" on the map below).

The mine is expected to employ up to 750 people during construction and 400 to 600 workers during mining operations for 10 years.

The company expects to run the mine for 14 years, with three to four years of construction prior to that and 10 years of decommissioning and monitoring once it’s closed.3,200 to 3,800 tonnes of uranium concentrate, which is yellowcake.

The Nunavut Impact Review Board has scheduled three weeks worth of technical presentations and community roundtable discussions related to Areva Resources Inc.’s Kiggavik Uranium project.

From March 2 to March 20, 2015, the NIRB will host a series of meetings at the Baker Lake community centre.


Approximately 85% of uranium produced in Canada is exported to countries around the world for use in nuclear reactors. The remainder is used to generate electricity in Canada and in medical isotope production. -- AREVA Resources Canada

Communities in Nunavut

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A markerAlert -
Alert, NU, Canada
[get directions]

B markerEureka NU -
Eureka, NU, Canada
[get directions]

C markerKugluktuk -
Kugluktuk, NU, Canada
[get directions]

D markerCambridge Bay -
Cambridge Bay, NU, Canada
[get directions]

E markerBaker Lake -
Baker Lake, NU, Canada
[get directions]

F markerRankin Inlet -
Rankin Inlet, NU, Canada
[get directions]

G markerIqaluit, Baffin Island, Nunavut -
Iqaluit, NU, Canada
[get directions]

Largest City in the island, the Capital, and home of the Language Commissioner.

H markerBarbeau Peak -
Barbeau Peak, Quttinirpaaq National Park of Canada, Baffin, Unorganized, NU X0A, Canada
[get directions]

I markerNanook NU -
Nanook River, Kitikmeot, Unorganized, NU, Canada
[get directions]

J markerPangnirtung -
Pangnirtung, NU, Canada
[get directions]

Second Largest City in Nunavut.

Link to Historic Helluland

The research literature shows generally that some analysts believe Norsemen arrived in what became Nunavut before 1000 AD found the aboriginal Dorset culture (i.e., community of Dorset) residing especially on Baffin Island.

The exploring Greenlanders and Icelanders called these aboriginal people skaelings, apparently to match up the discovered people with those in their own legends of Greenland and Iceland about a place called Helluland.

It is thought that what is now Ellesmere Island, Nunavut fits the descriptions of Helluland in the minds of the explorers. The legends involved the early Thule people, whose DNA was discovered in Iceland in the early 2010s.

Unfortunately, skraeling means withering, dying, and weak. The Inuit are none of those things.

Ellesmere Island

show route and directions
A markerEllesmere Island -
Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, Canada
[get directions]

Especially thought to represent Helluland to northern explorers.

B markerBaffin Island -
Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada
[get directions]

C markerDorset Island -
Dorset Island, Nunavut, Canada
[get directions]

The Inuit Art Capital

The Hamlet of Cape Dorset is the Capital of Inuit Art, supporting several well known artisans in the area and welcoming increasing numbers of art lovers and even tourists.

The Inuit living in Cape Dorset today are direct descendents of the Thules that called themselves "Tunlit".

These early Dorset culture inhabitants were the ancestors of the Inuit People as a whole. They discovered by Vikings over a thousand years ago and rediscovered in the 1600s by explorers looking for the mythic Northwest Passage that actually exists today.

During 1959, the first major Inuit exhibition of sculptures was held at the Stratford Festival and today, the arts produce a major portion of the community's economy.

Dorset Island, Mallik Island, and Mallikjuaq Territorial Park and archeological site all include elements of culture representative of the Thules, the Dorset people, and the Inuit. The park is accessible during warmer seasons by a short boat ride or, during low tide, visitors can just walk across the flats. Guided tours of the island are available.

Mallikjuaq Territorial Park

A markerMallikjuaq Territorial Park -
Mallikjuaq Territorial Park, Baffin, Unorganized, NU, Canada
[get directions]

Mallikjuaq translates to English as "Big Wave."

Inukshuk Guide Markers Are Also Art

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Kugaaruk, Nunavut, Canada. These structures guide native travelers. Many are located in Mallikjuaq Territorial Park.Source: By Mike Beauregard on Flickr; CC by-sa 2.0Snow transports like this one in Alert, Nunavut may provide good models for Moon Transports that must travel through thick dust. Inuit Elder stone carving.Decorated Shaman's Coat from 1903 in "Popular Science."
Kugaaruk, Nunavut, Canada. These structures guide native travelers. Many are located in Mallikjuaq Territorial Park.
Kugaaruk, Nunavut, Canada. These structures guide native travelers. Many are located in Mallikjuaq Territorial Park. | Source
Source: By Mike Beauregard on Flickr; CC by-sa 2.0
Source: By Mike Beauregard on Flickr; CC by-sa 2.0
Snow transports like this one in Alert, Nunavut may provide good models for Moon Transports that must travel through thick dust.
Snow transports like this one in Alert, Nunavut may provide good models for Moon Transports that must travel through thick dust. | Source
Inuit Elder stone carving.
Inuit Elder stone carving. | Source
Decorated Shaman's Coat from 1903 in "Popular Science."
Decorated Shaman's Coat from 1903 in "Popular Science."

Local Sights

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Cotton GrassGyrfalconsArctic PoppySnowy OwlNorthern RavenKomatiks or Qamutiqs beside the Clyde River, Baffin Island. These are larger sturdy sleds for transporting people and goods.
Cotton Grass
Cotton Grass | Source
Gyrfalcons
Gyrfalcons | Source
Arctic Poppy
Arctic Poppy | Source
Snowy Owl
Snowy Owl
Northern Raven
Northern Raven
Komatiks or Qamutiqs beside the Clyde River, Baffin Island. These are larger sturdy sleds for transporting people and goods.
Komatiks or Qamutiqs beside the Clyde River, Baffin Island. These are larger sturdy sleds for transporting people and goods. | Source

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Comments 10 comments

Phil Plasma profile image

Phil Plasma 24 months ago from Montreal, Quebec

Ever since Nunavut was formed I've had an interest in coming up to Iqaluit to visit and see what is up there and what it's like. Thanks for this hub that really gives a great idea about what can be found. The art especially looks interesting.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 24 months ago from North America Author

@Phil Plasma - Being in Quebec, I hope you are able to visit very soon to Nunavut. I wish more of the art to be available online to view, but what I see is impressive - many smooth carvings made in black stone. I marvel at stone sculpture; I don't think I could do it.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 23 months ago

Thank you for the education on this part of our world. It must be frustrating to see all those different flags posted as a claim.


ignugent17 profile image

ignugent17 23 months ago

Interesting hub. Thanks for your sharing your knowledge .


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 23 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Hello Patty, at least they found uranium. Otherwise it just looks cold. Merry Christmas (hey, just one day late)


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 23 months ago from North America Author

And Happy New Year! I hope yours is very happy.


aesta1 profile image

aesta1 22 months ago from Ontario, Canada

Nunavut would be an interesting place to visit. I have met some of the Inuit and seen many of their art so the more I really want to see the place.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 22 months ago from North America Author

The art of the Inuit is fascinating to view and I admire their skills and talents. Canada offers a lot of unique experiences.


Kristen Howe profile image

Kristen Howe 21 months ago from Northeast Ohio

Great hub Patty. Real informative about the Canadian Inuits. Real interesting, Voted up!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 21 months ago from North America Author

It is interesting to think about how people live up near the North Pole and in the subpolar regions, and about the First Nations who have lived there for thousands of years. How to stay warm, how to find food? Thanks for your comments!.

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