Accounts from Arctic Bay

Arctic Bay is located on the northern part of Baffin Island, on the Borden Peninsula, more than 750 km north of the Arctic Circle in Canada’s Inuit territory of Nunavut. The official Inuktitut name of Arctic Bay is Ikpiarjuk which means “the pocket” describing the high hills that surround the almost landlocked bay. Arctic Bay has a population of 750 people, 95 percent are Inuit and Inuktitut is the language most commonly used in the community. In 1926 and again in 1936, the Hudson’s Bay Company opened a trading post in Arctic Bay. The Amaroalik family, who was employed by the Company, was the only family living in Arctic Bay for the following decades. In 1962, a school was built by the federal government encouraging more permanent settlement. As with most other Baffin Island communities, the present town developed as a result of government housing initiatives in the 1960s and the arrival of families from neighbouring outpost camps. Arctic Bay became incorporated as a hamlet in 1976.  Arctic Bay area has been a hunting and fishing site for the Inuit and their ancestors for thousands of years.

Over the years, the Arctic Bay Inuit Knowledge Working Group and members of the community have shared stories, knowledge and perspectives on life and the environment.

The topics presented in the following podcasts include

  • Conservation ethics amongst the Inuit
  • Places of ecological and cultural significance around Sirmilik National Park
  • Observations of recent environmental changes
  • Sharing our knowledge for a better future


It is our responsibility to look after the land

In spring 2008, we travelled along Admiralty Inlet on the west side of Sirmilik National Park to learn from the elders about the land, those places of greatest ecological and cultural significance. During the trip, we recorded a discussion with Qapik Attagutsiak and Mucktar Akumalik on their perspective on conservation and responsibility for the environment. Qapik was born in 1917 in Ukkusiksalik, near Repulse Bay. Inuit at that time where nomadic and had to move where the animals were in abundance; living in sod houses, igloos and canvas tents. In the early 70’s, she and her family moved from an outpost camp near Nanisivik to a house in Arctic Bay. After her husband passed away in 1984, she went back to living in a qammaq (sod house) all year round – using a qullik (seal oil lamp) as the only source of heat and a cordless phone to reach family and friends. Qapik and her eldest daughter Kigutikarjuk are advocates for traditional midwifery, mental health, and Inuit health and are often invited to lecture at southern universities. Mucktar was born in 1932 near Ahiaq, Baker Lake. Maktar and his family moved to Arvaaqtuut Arctic Bay area around 1947 from Igloolik to wait for his father Akumalik to return from the Hamilton Tuberculosis Sanitorium but his father never returned. Maktar and his family lived in Arvaaqtuuq in sod houses and tents for 25 years and then moved to the permanent settlement of Arctic Bay. Mucktar Akumalik is a strong advocate for conservation and climate change. He was involved in the negotiations for Sirmilik National Park and following the establishment of the Park, became a member of the Joint Park Management Committee.

Stories from the land

Podcast Sections / ᓂᐱᓕᐅᖅᓯᒪᔪᑦ ᐃᓂᖏᑦ

  1. Introduction
  2. The Snow is Part of Who We Are
  3. Finding your way home
  4. Conclusion

View Transcript

This podcast is a collection of “Stories from the Land”. The first and second story titled “Snow is who we are” and “We had to live in peace so the animals could also live in harmony in their environment” are discussions between Macktaq Akumalik and Qapik Attagutsiak that were recorded during an on-the-ice workshop held in Arctic Bay in May 2008. In these podcasts, Macktaq and Qapik talk about the importance of knowing about the snow and igloo-building for survival in the Arctic, knowing and respecting the dog team and above all, the essence of the Inuit culture. The third story is told by Qapik Attagutsiak and is titled “Finding your way home”. Qapik’s message is also truly an example of survival; it stresses the importance of learning about the environment. This third story was also recorded during the on-the-ice workshop that brought together researchers, Parks Canada employees, and local experts with the goal of sharing information about the environment and places of ecological and cultural significance. As the group travelled together on the land and ice, the importance of knowing the environment was emphasized.