OUR STORY

About Us
Representing the North
Our Relationship to the Community
The Igloo Tag

Communities

Inuktitut meaning: Bowhead Whale Located on the western shores of the Hudson Bay, in the Kivalliq region, Arviat is one of the fastest growing communities in Nunavut, Canada. It is made up mostly of Inuit from the inland Ihalmiut and Paallirmiut bands, which were evacuated to the west coast of Hudson Bay in the late 1950s. Carving production commenced in the early 1960s and artists soon earned a reputation for their distinctive, rugged style. Arviat stone sculpture, while dealing almost exclusively with family and maternal themes, possesses perhaps the least ‘naturalistic’ style in all of Inuit art. The tough, dark grey Arviat stone, called steatite, resists detailed work. Even when softer stone is used, many artists take advantage of the opportunity to simplify forms rather than to elaborate it. Antler carvings, on the other hand, are quite playful and often explore a greater variety of themes. The Ulimaut Carving Shop in Arviat provides a workspace for new carvers. Here, you can watch young carvers at work and meet other members of the local carving community.
The community of Baker Lake sits at the mouth of the Thelon River on the shore of Baker Lake, and is Canada's only inland Inuit community. Traditionally a gathering place for many different groups of Inuit, the community is now home to many Inuit artists and carvers. Carvers work on medium suitable to large-scale pieces in the local dark grey to black stone that, although hard, generally accepts detail and polish. Baker Lake carvers explore family, hunting, animal, spiritual and mythic themes. The art of printmaking in the North was pioneered in Baker Lake in the late 1950s. Baker Lake print imagery is generally bold and colourful with an emphasis on shamanistic and supernatural subject matter which became very popular with collectors. A fire closed the original print shop but it has now been rebuilt and new collections of Baker Lake prints started again in the late 1990s. Baker Lake artists include: Simon Tookoome, Irene Avaalaaqiaq Tiktaalaaq, Camilla Iqulik and Louis Arnaryuinnaq.
The community of Cambridge Bay is located on the southeast coast of Victoria Island at the western end of Queen Maud Gulf where it narrows into Dease Strait, in Inuinnaqtun it is called ‘Iqaluktuuttiaq’ because it is a ‘good fishing place.’ Cambridge Bay is the center of government for Kitikmeot, the administrative and transportation hub for this region of Nunavut, it is the largest stop for passenger and research vessels traversing the Northwest Passage. The hamlet is located close to the Ekalluk River, which is famous for giant char. Its people are the Iqaluktuurmiut. This ancestral region of Nunavut has been inhabited for 4,000 years. It is rich in archaeological history and blessed with abundant fish, seals, geese, muskoxen and caribou.
Over 1,200 people reside in the Inuit community of Cape Dorset. It is located on the south west coast of Baffin Island on the Foxe Peninsula. Cape Dorset, which calls itself the "Capital of Inuit Art", has been a centre for drawing, printmaking and carving since the 1950s and is hailed as the most artistic community in Canada. Printmaking and carving are the community's main economic activities. As the first community to produce drawings and prints in the Canadian Arctic, Cape Dorset has essentially set the standard for graphic art by Inuit artists. James and Alma Houston initiated early forays into art making in the area during the late 1950s, while many artists were still living in ancestral camps. The early experimental prints were exhibited in 1958, and annual print collections and catalogues have been produced ever since. Sculpture and graphite works on paper were the focus at that time. Stonecut stencil prints, and etching and engraving dominated the early collections. Lithography was introduced, along with the use of acrylic paint on paper, in the early 1970s. Certainly, one of the most successful and longest running print shops in Canada, Cape Dorset artists have produced over 100,000 drawings and more than 2,500 limited edition prints over the years. Subsequently, a type of creative renaissance began in both print and drawing media in Cape Dorset. Well-established artists such as Pudlo Pudlat, Lucy Qinnuauyuak and many others, entered a very prolific period in their artistic careers. Kenojuak Ashevak's drawings of owls have appeared on Canadian stamps, as well as on a Canadian quarter. Sculpture continues to have great importance among three generations of artists from this community. Although small-scale works, following the tradition of highly detailed ivory sculpture, are in evidence today, Cape Dorset artists are noted for their large-scale stone sculptures. Inspired by representation, the concept of transformation between shaman and spirit helper or spirit animal; arctic animals adopting naturalistic or humorous human-like poses (e.g. dancing bears, and Sedna - the sea goddess), are popular themes, in addition to a myriad of other subjects and styles, personal to each individual artist.
Located on the west coast of Hudson Bay in the Kivalliq Region of Nunavut, Chesterfield Inlet has been a permanent settlement since 1910, making it one of the oldest Inuit communities in Nunavut. The site of an ancient Thule settlement lies nearby where tent rings and animal traps are still visible. The community was named in approximately 1749, after Philip Dormer Stanhope, the 4th Earl of Chesterfield. The traditional Inuktitut name for Chesterfield Inlet is Igluligaarjuk, which means “place with few houses”. Chesterfield Inlet was the Hudson Bay Company’s main supply centre for the area until the 1950s, and was also the site of the largest RCMP barracks and the largest Roman Catholic mission in the eastern Arctic. Artists from Chesterfield Inlet include talented carver, Anita Issaluk and textile artists, Agatha Alkomaksuitiksa and Eva Tanuyak.
Clyde River is a Baffin Island hamlet, nestled in the Baffin Mountains, on the shore of Patricia Bay. About half of its 800+ residents are under the age of 18 and the population continues to grow rapidly. Clyde River artists use a light green stone, obtained from the Mary River area of northern Baffin Island, for their carvings; however, the main medium is old whalebone found along nearby beaches. In fact, this community is now the centre of whalebone carving in the Arctic. Although some sculptures are straightforward, representational depictions of animals, humans and simple hunting scenes, one trait that characterizes the work from Clyde River is the sense of humour and whimsy that results in images such as dancing and waving walruses. The stone sculptures generally have soft, undulating outlines and are highly finished. Carved whale vertebrae are an example of the ingenuity of the artists who create their art from natural shapes and materials.
In Inuktitut, Coral Harbour is called Salliq or Salliit, meaning a large, flat island in front of the mainland. The English explorer, Sir Thomas Button, named the land Southampton Island, in honour of his benefactor, the Earl of Southampton, who promoted his search of the Northwest Passage in 1604. Incredibly, in the icy waters near the settlement, you can find fossilized coral that once flourished when Northern Canada had a warmer climate. Today, of course, the local climate is not conducive to its growth. Coral Harbour is a thriving community, where its largely young population blends Inuit traditions with modern life. While walrus meat sits on the dock for everyone to share, for example, a front-end loader busily prepares a nearby lot for new construction. Artists from the area carve their sculptures from soapstone, ivory, whalebone or the marvelous limestone which is found at nearby Bear Island.
Gjoa Haven is the only settlement on King William Island, located in the Kitikmeot Region of Nunavut. It was named in 1903 by polar explorer, Roald Amendsen, who spent two winters in the community during the very first successful traverse of the Northwest Passage, in his ship named Gjøa. The area is also the last known location of the lost Franklin Expedition in 1845. The people of this area are known as Netsilik Inuit, and are known for their seal-hunting prowess. The major activities in today’s community are hunting, fishing and the creation of arts and crafts. Each region of Nunavut has a distinct style of sculptures. Gjoa Haven carvers are known for the spiritual nature of their work. Gaping mouths, flaring nostrils and wandering eyes are part of the Gjoa Haven visual vocabulary. While facial features in these sculptures often seem full of angst, the figures are often going about usual everyday activities. Gjoa Haven is home to many carvers, some world-renowned, such as: Joseph Suqslak, Louis Makkituq and Nick Sikkuark.
Hall Beach is located on the Foxe Basin’s eastern shore of the Melville Peninsula. Its Inuktitut name is Sanirajak, which means “the place along the coast”. It was established as a result of the construction of the Distant Early Warning (DEW) system in 1957. Many Inuit moved to this area in the years following, although there is evidence to suggest that the area has been occupied since at least the 13th century. The community and nearby lake are named for Captain Hall, an American explorer who lived in the region in the mid-19th century. Inuit traditional culture and language remain strong today. Hall Beach is known for two spectacular natural phenomenon: the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) and Sun Dogs. It also boasts of its excellent fishing, hunting and marine wildlife watching activities, particularly, its large walrus population. In recent years, tourism has become an important part of the local economy - with sport fishing for Arctic Char as a main attraction. The Inuit hunt walrus for food, clothing, oil and many other products. Tusks are used to create the delicate “scrimshaw” carvings common to this region. Artists from this area include Joelie Siakuluk and Joelie Anguluinauk.
Igloolik is situated on an island adjacent to the flat expanse of the Melville Peninsula's eastern coastal plain in Nunavut. The establishment of a Roman Catholic Mission in the 1930s brought the first permanent southerners to Igloolik. The settlement has long been off the beaten track for tourists in the eastern Arctic. Today, whether you come to see its people, wildlife or a wilderness vastly different from Baffin Island's craggy peaks and fiords, you will find a region rich in its own treasures that are well-worth exploring. Igloolik is not only the geographic centre of Nunavut, but it is also widely considered the cultural hub of Nunavut. Ancient ties to northern and southern Baffin Island, as well as the Kivalliq and eastern Kitikmeot regions, contribute to the distinct mix of Inuit cultural traditions practised and nurtured in Igloolik today. Natural resources that are key to Inuit culture are abundant in the region, and include walruses, seals, whales, polar bears and caribou. Igloolik sculptures have much in common, stylistically, with those of Pangnirtung, in terms of scale, subject matter and aesthetics. The drama of the hunt and the emotional intensity of mythological subjects are depicted in large, strongly realistic works. Igloolik stone is mostly dull grey. Naturalistic details are vigorously carved but not polished. The light green stone used in some sculptures is imported from the Mary River deposit on Baffin Island. One well-known Igloolik artist is Celina Iyyiraq.
Inuktitut meaning: Place of many fish Iqaluit, formerly known as Frobisher Bay, is located on the south coast of Baffin Island, at the head of Frobisher Bay, on the remote Arctic tundra. It is a central hub and the gateway to the north and south in the Baffin region. Iqaluit, which was originally built as an airbase during World War II, was selected as the capital of Nunavut in December 1995. In April 2001, it was officially designated a city. Iqaluit aims to be every inch a capital city, with amenities and a quality of life to rival any city in Canada. Its economy, based mainly on a government that has expanded rapidly since the city became the capital, is growing by leaps and bounds. The city's infrastructure continues to develop at a steady clip, as it attempts to catch up with the population growth. As well as being Canada's newest and most northerly capital, Iqaluit is also Canada's fastest growing community. It is a magnet for Inuit from throughout the Baffin region and is home to many talented artists. Art from Iqaluit is not as homogeneous as that of other communities; however, it does share, with its neighbouring settlements, a taste for the elegant and flamboyant representation of Arctic wildlife. Animals (particularly bears, caribou and musk oxen) are depicted realistically, but often in unusual or heroic poses, or with exaggerated proportions. The annual Nunavut Arts Festival, held in Iqaluit each June, draws many artists from all regions of the Arctic.
Kimmirut is located on the south shore of Baffin Island’s Meta Incognita Peninsula. Access to this community is restricted to air and water. Whaling ships made annual calls at Kimmirut in the 19th century, making it the most important harbour on the south coast. Until the start of World War I, Kimmirut was the centre of a busy and thriving mica mining operation, which employed Inuit and Scottish miners. Kimmirut means “a heel” in Inuktitut and is located across the inlet from a geological feature resembling a heel. Previously known as Lake Harbour, access to the untouched splendour of Katannilik Park is provided from this hunting and fishing community. The only trees on Baffin Island are found in Katannilik Park, along with a variety of Arctic flora and considerable wildlife. Kimmirut hosts a thriving arts community and is famous for its beautiful local stone, which ranges in colour from apple green to light cream coloured shades. Sculptures from this region are highly representational, with naturalistic animal subjects that are smooth and usually highly polished. It is home to a remarkable group of walrus ivory carvers who produce intricate “scrimshaw” etchings. Artists also create fine jewellery containing semi-precious stones such as sapphire, spinel, scapolite, tourmaline, iolite, apatite, zircon, moonstone, garnet and lapis lazuli, which have all been discovered in the region
Kugaaruk, formerly known as Pelly Bay, was originally named for the Hudson's Bay Company’s Governor, Sir John Pelly. Its current Inuktitut name means “a little stream”, after the small river that runs through the settlement. The seal-dependent way of life of the Netsilik Inuit of the area was untouched by the whaling and trapping periods that affected other areas of the North. Although first European contact came in 1829, it was not until 1935 that the first southerner came to permanently reside here. Kugaaruk is artistically renowned for small, delicate works of art, made from stone, ivory, or antler. The tradition of creating miniatures goes back hundreds of years, when talented Inuit artists created them as gifts for visiting missionaries and whalers. While there are a number of types of Inuit fabric arts, perhaps the most well known are the exquisitely appliquéd wall hangings. Wall hangings are traditionally made of felt cut-outs appliquéd on a wool or duffle background and embellished with embroidery. The images are usually comprised of hunting or camping scenes, as well as shamanism, mythic heroes and legends. Artists from Kugaaruk include Nick Sikkuark and Emily Illuitok.
Inuktitut meaning: “Place of moving water” Kugluktuk is located on the Arctic Ocean, at the mouth of the Coppermine River. Situated in the Coronation Gulf, which separates Victoria Island from the main land, Kugluktuk is the most westerly of the communities found in Nunavut. Its Inuktitut name means the "place of moving water" which refers to the nearby rapids at Kugluk/Bloody Falls. The language most often in use is Inuanktin, which is a dialect of the more recognized Inuktitut language spoken in the eastern Arctic. While Inuktitut uses written syllabics, Inuanuktin uses standard Roman orthography. Much of the daily life of the residents is still spent hunting and fishing. Residents of the community work hard to ensure their traditional skills are passed on to younger generations, whether it be sewing fur clothing, hunting game, carving soapstone, preparing traditional food, or playing music and drum dancing. The Coppermine River played an important role as an exploration and fur trade route and is designated a Canadian Heritage River. Copper deposits along the river attracted the first explorers to the area.
Naujaat (formerly known as Repulse Bay) is located on the Arctic Circle, on the northern shore of Hudson Bay, in the Kivalliq Region of Nunavut. Sitting on a steeply rising coastline, the area is rich with Thule heritage. The homeland of the Naujaat Inuit, it was first visited by Europeans in the early 18th century.  Naujaat is the Inuktitut name for the community and means “seagulls’ nesting place”.  Cliffs located 5 km north of the community provide nesting grounds for seagulls, snow birds, loons, eider ducks, longtail ducks and jaegers beginning each June. The region is abundant with many forms of wildlife, including herds of caribou and wolf packs. The salt waters are home to Narwhal and the freshwaters are renowned for Arctic char. The community is rich in tradition with excellent artisans and Inuit carvers who use bone, ivory and stone for their works. Similar to the South Baffin community of Cape Dorset, Naujaat is known for its innovative carvings which are represented in some of the most notable collections worldwide.
Pangnirtung means "the place of the bull caribou" in Inuktitut. It is located on a narrow coastal plain against a spectacular backdrop of high mountains and a winding river valley, and is surrounded by spectacular fiords. Legend has it, that a hunter named Atagooyuk gave the place its name well over 100 years ago, when caribou had not yet changed their patterns as a result of the incursions of man. The last few decades, though filled with promise, have been fraught with difficulties for the people of Pangnirtung. This was a seal-hunting community, and when sealskin prices declined sharply in the 1970s and 1980s, hunting became uneconomical. With substantial government assistance, the community currently operates a turbot fishery. The government has also encouraged the development of arts and crafts, including a unique weaving industry, art prints and clothing items. Pangnirtung sculpture, like that of Iqaluit, exhibits a certain heroic realism in its animal and human subjects. Stone is the most widely used material, but whalebone is also popular. Many artists from this community enjoy working on a large scale in their portrayals of dramatic and emotionally charged shamanic or mythological images. Art from Qikiqtarjuaq (formerly Broughton Island) is similar to that of Pangnirtung, as a result of families moving back and forth between the two communities. Sculptors utilize whalebone, light green, and occasionally, dark green to black stones.
Located on the Eclipse Sound on northern Baffin Island, beautiful scenery and abundant wildlife bless Pond Inlet. Referred to as the "jewel of the Baffin", this ancestral homeland of the North Baffin Inuit is rich in archaeology. Thule Inuit lived in the region for centuries and left many interesting sites. American and Scottish whalers frequently visited the area early in the 19th century. It is thought that the area around Broughton Island may have been inhabited as long as 4,000 years ago. Approximately 1,000 years ago, people of the Thule culture entered the region from northern Alaska. Today, the major activities include tourism, ocean mammal harvesting, hunting and fishing, trapping and oil exploration. Although whalebone is the traditional choice for works of art in this community, today it has been replaced largely by soapstone and marble. Inuit carvers continue to produce fine sculptures of soapstone, ivory, whalebone and marble, as well as pencil drawings and caribou hair tufting.
The island community of Qikiqtarjuaq is located in the Davis Strait, off the east coast of Baffin Island, about 96 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle. It is the northern access point for the Auyuittuq National Park. Qikiqtarjuaq is called the iceberg capital of the world. The northern cape, near the community, captures many of the icebergs that travel down the Davis Strait from Greenland. Qikiqtarjuaq means "big island" in Inuktitut, even though the island that the community calls home is only about 16 kilometres long and 12 kilometres wide. Inuktitut is the language of choice, although an increasing number of people speak English. The island and its surrounding area are home to spectacular landforms and wildlife including walruses, polar bears, seals, narwhals, belugas and bowhead whales. Hunting and fishing are still important parts of daily life, and families will often spend much of their time 'on the land' during spring and summer. Artists in the community use whalebone and stone to create their sculptures. Stone colours vary from light to dark greens and black. The community is known for its traditional sealskin parkas and kamiit boots. Talented artists from Qikiqtarjuaq include Jamesee Natsiapik, Tony Atsanik and Kisa Audlaktak.
Rankin Inlet, Nunavut’s second largest community, is located on the western shores of Hudson Bay, approximately 1,100 miles north of Winnipeg, Manitoba. It is the business and transportation hub of the Kivalliq region and the gateway to Central Canada. The community was established as a mining centre in 1955 by North Rankin Nickel Mines; however, there is a great deal of archaeological evidence that the Inuit had lived in the area for thousands of years. The ancient Thule people once used the nearby Meliadine River, and built stone weirs to channel Arctic char into shallow waters where they could be speared. There have also been archaeological discoveries of ancient pottery in the region. With the 1962 closure of the North Rankin Nickel Mines, the government was anxious to encourage local artists to market their exquisite carvings, fabric creations and ceramics. The artists in the community continue to thrive by incorporating new materials into traditional themes. Artists from Rankin Inlet include Leo Napayok and Jerry Ell.
Located in the heart of Hudson Bay, in the Belcher Islands, Sanikiluaq is the southernmost community in Nunavut, approximately 150 kilometres off the west coast of Quebec. The islands are distinctly Arctic where no trees grow, and rocky cliffs towering from 50 to 155 metres above the sea. Many of these cliffs are nesting grounds for eider ducks, whose feathers (eiderdown) are collected from nests and made into beautiful duvets and outerwear. The Inuit have inhabited the Belcher Islands for centuries, though it only came to the attention of outsiders after Henry Hudson spotted them in 1610. The dark Argillite stone found on the Belcher Islands is unmistakable: varying in colour from black to dark grey and containing naturally beautiful streaks and lines. It is distinctive to carvings created in Sanikiluaq. The most common art subjects are mythological, animal or genre scenes, with a folk art flavour. Beautiful lyme grass baskets are handcrafted by the women of the region, a tradition that had been lost for over 20 years but is now regaining popularity.
Called ‘Sanirajak’ in Inuktitut, this is the oldest known permanently inhabited community existing north of the Arctic Circle. It faces south toward the fertile waters of Foxe Basin. For thousands of years, the local people have enjoyed and benefited from the yearly arrival of large herds of sunbathing, squabbling ivory-tusked walruses of enormous girth and tooth. The local hunters say that you will see creatures here that you just won’t see in many other parts of the circumpolar world. A happy sense of community here warmly welcomes you and draws you deeply into the local Inuit culture.
Taloyoak sits at the head of Spence Bay, on the south coast of the Boothia Peninsula, and is the northern most community on the Canadian mainland. The first inhabitants were Netsilik Inuit. In 1904, explorer Roald Amundsen charted much of the Boothia Peninsula on his journey through the Northwest Passage. The community’s name, in Inuktitut, refers to a large stone caribou blind, traditionally used by Inuit to corral and harvest caribou. Taloyoak is home to many Inuit artisans. Carvers work with bone, stone and ivory to create traditional and spiritual Inuit images. The famous "Spence Bay Packing Dolls" have been produced in the community since the early 1970s. Taloyoak first became famous for its whalebone sculptures, which were large and rather fantastic in conception. The community style was quickly dominated by the work of one man, Karoo Ashevak, whose combination of the surreal and the whimsical produced powerfully haunting, yet amusing masterpieces. Some aspects of his style have been copied by other artists, but the changeover to stone as the main carving material, along with the rise of new talents, have led to more varied creations coming out of the community. Some of Taloyoak’s influential artists include: Joe Pudlat, Simon Uttaq and Gideon Quajuaq.
Formerly known as Holman, this Inuvialuit community of about 500 wraps around the head of an Arctic inlet on the west coast of Victoria Island, the ninth largest on Earth. It was founded as a Roman Catholic mission in the 1930s and is now famous for two things: The world’s northernmost golf course (each summer it hosts the Billy Joss Open Tournament), and exquisite Inuit prints. Its name translates to “where there is ulu material,” referring to the copper used to make semi-circular Inuit knives called ulus. And like many remote Inuit communities, Ulukhaktok is famous for art. Don’t leave this community without picking up an art print, a pair of sealskin mittens or other traditional Inuit crafts like a tea cosy or doll.
A very traditional Inuit community, Whale Cove is located on the sheltered west coast of Hudson Bay, south of Rankin Inlet, in the Kivalliq Region of Nunavut. A ridge of rock surrounds the community, and the permafrost extends to one metre. During the fall, beluga whales congregate off the coast and are the symbol of Whale Cove. The community remains very traditional to the Inuit culture, with residents relying heavily on hunting and fishing for both food and artisan materials, using dog-sleds for transportation, eating raw meat and fish, and wearing clothes made of natural fur and hide. With no road access to Whale Cove, the region must rely on air transport. Whale Cove has much to offer its visitors, from fishing and hunting expeditions, arctic camping and wildlife watching, land and water tours, to easy-going dog sled rides and whale watching.

Situated on the Northern shore of Great Slave Lake, Yellowknife is the capital of the Northwest Territories, Canada. Founded in 1934, the city is located in the traditional territory of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation who founded the nearby community of Dettah in the early 1930s.

The city of Yellowknife has its origins in gold mining and was designated as territorial capital in 1967. Since then the city has grown to around 20,000 residents and has become a cultural, economic and government services hub for the territory. Diamonds were discovered in the area in 1991, and with the founding of three operating diamond mines within short flights of Yellowknife, the city is once again getting in touch with its mining roots.

Yukon, formerly Yukon Territory, territory of northwestern Canada, an area of rugged mountains and high plateaus. It is bounded by the Northwest Territories to the east, by British Columbia to the south, and by the U.S. state of Alaska to the west, and it extends northward above the Arctic Circle to the Beaufort Sea. The capital is Whitehorse.

The mineral wealth of Yukon has been known since the famous Klondike gold rush of the later 1890s, but the combination of an Arctic climate and remoteness from markets has limited the economic exploitation of such resources and the development of modern settlement. Instead, the territory remains among the few frontiers on the North American continent, a sparsely populated and largely unspoiled wilderness.