Nunavut is 21 per cent of Canada’s land mass. Despite the freezing cold temperatures, limited access and 24-hour daylight in the northernmost islands during the summer (no vampires here), it has a population of just under 36K, approximately 85 per cent of whom are Inuit.
Sauyuittuq National Park, Pangnirtung.
Top 13 Places to Visit in Canada
Baffin Island & Iqaluit, Nunavut
Author/Editor Jennifer J. Lacelle
June 25, 2021
The next explorers were seeking the Northwest Passage to reach Asia. Naturally, they went above the main land and tried to find their way through the waters to the other side. Many ships and their passengers were lost to these cold, barren lands.
Tragically, the history that follows is one of suffering for the Inuit. The Canadian government was given the land by the Britain Empire in 1880, but Canada didn’t decide to do much with the land until World War II when they established Military Outposts.
As time went on, these people went from living their lives to being pushed into a wage-economy based lifestyle, moved to different areas of the country, sent to schools far from their communities (including Residential Schools) and completely had their lives turned upside down.
In the 1960-70s, the Inuit began forming discussions over land claims and government. It wasn’t until 1982 that Tunngavik Federation of Nunavut was formed and this group worked hard, pressing the Canadian government into creating a new territory (which occurred a number of years later).
So, while this territory is known for being chilly, cold and a little (a lot) up north, there are a number of highlights to be found in Nunavut! Take, for example, Baffin Island.
Home of the arts, Iqaluit houses the Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum where you’ll find exhibits, artwork and artifacts. You can even find souvenirs at their gift shop. But the heart of the area is Quammaarviit, an island with thousands of artifacts from the Thule culture, over 20,000 bones, and sod houses that demonstrate the living conditions of the region’s predecessors.
In Dorset, the largest number of artists per capita in Canada, you can watch all types of artists create their masterpieces.
Try something different in your meal and have a wonderful meal of Arctic Char (fish) or caribou. If you’re really feeling adventurous, try whale skin and blubber: muktuk.
Auyuittuq National Park
Sitting on Baffin Island’s Cumberland Peninsula, this park is full of fjords, rough granite cliffs, and tundra valleys.
Hiking this area is one of near solitude, though expect the sounds of the wind rushing through the fjords and water flowing here and there. Also, you must be patient on your trek as challenges and surprises are bound to arise.
Before you can enter the park, be sure to make reservations (mandatory) and attend the required orientation session, collect and read your park information pamphlet and polar bear safety pamphlet. For hikers, be sure to tell Parks Canada a very detailed plan, including any smaller side trips you intend to make. It’s also essential that you know your level of fitness and are able to make the journey into the wild.
Auyuittuq National Park near Pangnirtung, Nunavut
In order to find your way, most hikers use major landmarks. Since the land is barren of trees, this means rivers and valleys that are distinguishable from others. Though, they strongly encourage the use of a GPS system to ensure you don’t lose your way.
You may come across some Inuit communities or members on your journey. They ask visitors to remain respectful to their culture and refrain from interfering with their hunting, traps and more.
Obviously, the climate is chilly but you should be prepared for any changes in the weather. Even during summer months, hikers may find themselves tromping through a white-out blizzard! So, hikers should also be watching for signs of hypothermia and frostbite.
If you find yourself needing to cancel your trip, make sure you tell them. Otherwise, the small search and rescue group could be spread thin searching for you when you’re not really there.
Explore the Arctic
There are an enormous number of cruises to check out that show off just how beautiful, wild and serene the northern half of the world is.
Take a 13-day cruise with Ocean Endeavour. You’ll begin your trip in Iqaluit, the Capital where 8,000 people reside, where you’ll get your first real taste of the tides. Next, you’ll head to Frobisher Bay for wildlife and geology; while Kimmirut, meaning “the heel” in Inuktitut, is the next stop on your journey. Here you will learn the true meaning of the word art — the place is brimming at the edges.
On day five cruisers should be prepared to search through the frigid waters of Hudson’s Bay looking for polar bears, whales, seals, and more. Days six and seven you’ll get to hike the tundra or take a smaller Zodiac cruise about the area.
Check out an abandoned fishing community for days eight and nine at Ungava Bay, before heading across the sea toward Greenland for day ten. You’ll arrive at Nuuk, the Capital of Greenland, for a chance to visit their shopping centre and restaurants, or the national museum where mummies are waiting to be awoken!
Day twelve is filled with cruising the fjords and islands with a monstrous mountain as your backdrop (bring you cameras). Day thirteen ends with Kangerlussuaq, a former US Air Base, where you’ll get to drive up along the Greenland countryside to the airport where you board your flight for Toronto.