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Nunavut FAQs

What is the weather like in Nunavut?

The weather in Nunavut varies greatly depending on the season and where you are in the territory . Winters can be very harsh, with average temperatures of -32°C in Pond Inlet and -27°C in Iqaluit. Summers can be quite mild, with temperatures ranging from an average of 11°C in Baker Lake in July to 6°C in Hall Beach. It is best to be prepared for all types of weather when travelling to or living in Nunavut.  

Source:  Environment Canada. National Climate Data and Information Archive. Canadian Climate Normals or Averages 1971-2000.

 

What is the population and demographics of Nunavut?

The population of Nunavut as of April 1, 2013, was 34,023 people (Statistics Canada). Of this population, about 84% of the population is Inuit. Nunavut also has a very young population – the median age of a resident of Nunavut on July 1, 2012 was 24.7-years-old, compared to that of the Canadian median of 40-years-old.

To learn more, you can visit the website of the Nunavut Bureau of Statistics:  www.stats.gov.nu.ca                

Source:  Statistics Canada. Table051-0005 - Estimates of population, Canada, provinces and territories, quarterly (persons),  CANSIM (database). (accessed: 2013-07-30)

 

Is it dark all winter and light all summer?

The answer to that depends on where you live. In Grise Fiord, Nunavut’s most northern community, has 24 hours of daylight in June and 24 hours of darkness in December. Southern Nunavut communities have more hours of light in the winter and more hours of dark in summer.  For example, on December 21, the shortest day of the year, residents in the capital of Iqaluit will watch the sun rise around 9:30 a.m. and set around 1 p.m.

Some people find it hard to adjust to the variation in light and darkness depending on the seasons. Fortunately, there are ways to help you with this. Vitamins can help keep you healthy when there are limited hours of sunlight. Window blinds that block the light are available to help you sleep during the summer.

 

What is housing like in Nunavut? Do people live in igloos?

Contrary to popular belief, people in Nunavut don’t live in igloos – although the word igloo is the Inuktitut word for home. People live in single family dwellings, townhouses and apartments. In the summer, many choose to live in large canvas tents on the land.

 

How can I travel to/within Nunavut? Can I drive to Nunavut?

There are no roads connecting communities in Nunavut. The most common type of transportation is plane. The four gateway cities to enter Nunavut are: Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Edmonton.  There is also an air link to Nuuk, Greenland during the summer months.

More information about flying to and within Nunavut can be found on the Nunavut Tourism website:

http://www.nunavuttourism.com

 

What language is spoken in Nunavut?

Nunavut’s official languages are the Inuit Language (Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun), English and French. The Inuit Language is the mother tongue of 83% of the population of Nunavut (Office of the Languages Commissioner of Nunavut). If you do not speak Inuktitut or Inuinnaqtun, you will not have trouble communicating in English; it is widely spoken in the territory. There is also a large French-speaking population in Nunavut’s capital city, Iqaluit.

Source:  Office of the Languages Commissioner of Nunavut. Nunavut's Official Languages . n.d. 30 July 2013.

Statistics, Nunavut Bureau of. 1 April 2013. 29 August 2013.

 

What is the difference between a province and a territory?

Territories, such as Nunavut, get their powers from the Government of Canada. In contrast, provincial governments have their powers embedded in the Canadian Constitution. Territories also receive a substantial amount of their financial resources from the Government of Canada.

To learn more about the difference between a province and a territory, visit the Government of Canada’s Intergovernmental Affairs page on the topic:

http://www.pco-bcp.gc.ca/aia/index.asp?lang=eng&page=provterr&sub=difference&doc=difference-eng.htm

 

What are the main industries in Nunavut?

The main industries in Nunavut include arts & crafts, mining, fishing and hunting and trapping. Nunavut is known worldwide for prints and carvings. Mineral exploration and mining are growing industries, but the high cost of travelling to the territory, as well as bringing materials to Nunavut, are a challenge.  Nunavut has commercial char, turbot and shrimp fisheries. With much of the waters around Nunavut currently unexplored, the Government of Nunavut, with funding from the federal government, recently purchased a research vessel to collect information on marine species, habitat, and populations in waters around Nunavut. Hunting and trapping is an industry that is valued at approximately $40,000,000 annually. Tourism is a growing industry in Nunavut as well, as tourists from all over the world are drawn to Nunavut’s national and territorial parks, sport hunting and fishing, culture and natural beauty.

 

What kind of clothing should I bring to Nunavut?

It is important that you have warm clothing in winter, especially if you will be spending a lot of time outside – this should include a parka rated to at least -40°C, boots, hat, gloves and scarf. In the summer, you will need a light jacket. Wind-proof clothing is recommended for all seasons. Practical, comfortable shoes are essential because there are no sidewalks in Nunavut and the ground is uneven.

 

What kind of shopping is available in Nunavut?

In the larger Nunavut communities like Iqaluit, Cambridge Bay and Rankin Inlet, there are multiple options for shopping for food, household items and clothing. In smaller communities, options are more limited, though each town has a store where you can buy food and common items. Many Nunavut residents bring food and other hard-to-find items from southern Canada on sealift boats that visit each community in the summer. Online shopping is also a well-used option, as some outlets ship to Nunavut.

 

What kind of activities are there in Nunavut?

Nunavut has a great natural landscape for outdoor activities like hiking, kayaking, camping and much more! If you are interested in indoor activities, there are plenty of options as well. Most communities in Nunavut have an arena for skating and hockey. Indoor soccer and volleyball are also very popular sports. The capital city, Iqaluit, also has a cinema that plays new movies every week.

There are also festivals and celebrations held in each Nunavut community annually, such as Toonik Tyme and Alainait festival in Iqaluit, and the Nattiq Frolics in Kugluktuk. No matter what community you live in in Nunavut, with a little creativity you will always have something to do.

 

Where do people work in Nunavut?

The largest employer in the territory is the Government of Nunavut. Many people in Nunavut work for the three different levels of government: municipal, territorial and federal. New jobs are emerging in the mining and mineral exploration sector. Tourism is also growing, and some Nunavummiut work as guides and tour operators.

 

How long does it take to drive to Nunavut?

There are no roads connecting communities within Nunavut or to southern Canada. Flying to Nunavut is the only option available 12 months of the year. Arriving by boat can be an option during the summer months. Nunavut’s large size (1.9 million km2 or 20% of Canada’s land mass) allows for all of its communities to be spread out across the territory, with no road or railway links.

 

Where do you get your electricity?

All electricity in Nunavut is supplied by Qulliq Energy Corporation (QEC), which is a territorial corporation owned by the Government of Nunavut. All of the power supplied to Nunavummiut comes from stand-alone diesel generators located in each community. Diesel is brought in by ships during the summer and lasts all year until the next delivery.

Though Nunavut currently relies completely on imported fuel products, the Government of Nunavut is presently looking into potential energy alternatives such as hydropower and solar and wind power.

 

Where do you get water in Nunavut?

Water is supplied by each individual municipality within Nunavut. Each community has their own water supply and water treatment plant. Some homes in Nunavut have piped water, but many homes get water delivered to their house each day by a water truck.  This is especially the case in smaller communities.