Igloolik is a small island (100 km2) located north of Hudson Bay in the Qikiqtaaluk region of Nunavut. Centrally located in the territory, the community has a mix of cultural traditions from all three regions and is considered the cultural epicentre of Nunavut. Igloolik is an Inuktitut word which means, “there is a house here” and refers to the sod houses that were originally in the area. Nearby archeological sites indicate that the area was occupied 4,000 years ago by the Dorset, predecessors to today’s Inuit.
Things to do:
- Travel to the floe edge with a local outfitter for animal viewing, including marine mammals and birds.
- Mark the end of polar night at the Welcome Back the Sun celebration featuring traditional Inuit games and sports, dog team racing, igloo-building contests, and dances, held every January.
- Rock out at the annual Rockin’ Walrus Arts Festival featuring music, dance, acrobatics, and theatrical performances, held every June.
Igloolik has an Arctic coastal climate. Nine months of the year, the average temperature is below 0°C. Sea ice forms and regular snowfall begins in November. Polar night starts in November and ends in January. The snow and ice disappear by July and summer temperatures range from 8°C to 15°C. Igloolik summers have 24-hour daylight from May 18 to July 26, with long days of cool sunny weather lasting to mid-August.
The 1930s saw the establishment of a Roman Catholic Mission and the Hudson’s Bay Company. Igloolik was one of the first communities in the High Arctic to get permanent establishments such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, day schools, and medical facilities. Igloolik is home to the only Inuit circus, Artcirq, which blends Inuit culture and modern circus techniques. Artcirq is active in video-making, music production, and live circus show performances.
Igloolik is also home of the renowned Isuma Productions, a company noted for its films depicting traditional Inuit lifestyles. Isuma is most well-known for the epic movie, “Atanarjuat — the Fast Runner.”
The area is rich in wildlife including walrus, seals, belugas, and polar bears. Many species of migrating birds make their way to Igloolik during the summer season, including ducks, geese, loons, plovers, snow buntings, and snowy owls. People fish locally for Arctic char and lake trout, and collect bird eggs in the spring. Igloolik is known for its highly prized aged, fermented walrus meat known as igunaq.