Traditionally Inuit lived in small migratory family groups but from the 1950s on, Ottawa began to build permanent communities in what is now Nunavut and to provide some of the basic services to Inuit that were provided to southern Canadians.
The 25 villages and towns in Nunavut today are relatively small with populations ranging from 144 to just over 7,000, with most being between 900 and 2,000 people and with 85 per cent of the people usually being Inuit.
All are fly-in communities and are only visited by a few ships during the short Arctic summer. Most of the smaller communities consist approximately of one or two general stores, a health centre, police station, hamlet office, power plant, school(s) and an airport terminal.
The capital, Iqaluit, houses the territorial government and major service centres such as the hospital, CBC North and Arctic College.
It is in the smaller places where the Inuit language and culture are strongest due to their relative isolation but since the creation of Nunavut in 1999 change is making in-roads into all aspects of life. Here, a glimpse of some of the communities in Nunavut’s Qikiqtani region.
Nick Newbery taught in several communities in Nunavut from 1976-2005. The photos in this article are from Nick’s Arctic photo collection which can be found at www.newberyphotoarchives.ca and should be viewed from a historical perspective.