I’m about to embark on a great adventure, (10 weeks in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut), which I hope to share with people back home. Everyone seems excited, even complete strangers! So I thought I’d write a blog on a regular basis to keep people posted and so they can share the adventure with me.
All that I know about this part of Canada goes back to grade school geography classes going back nearly 50 years, so it’s been fun researching the area where I’ll be living and I’d love to share what I’ve learned with you. Please forgive any misperceptions and correct any errors or assumptions if you can! We’re all learning together!
I’ll start by answering the most frequently asked questions. If you have more, ask away!
What are you going to do up there?
The primary reason is that I’m going to house-sit, and maintain a Bahá’í presence in the community, while my host takes his children to visit the Bahá’í temples in Australia and Samoa.
I’m also going for the adventure! J I’m looking forward to learning more about another culture by living in it and experiencing it first-hand. My host has a big outdoor dog who loves to go on walks, which should be a good way to meet people who may be curious about what I’m doing with Aiviq’s dog!
I’m hoping to do some volunteer work, perhaps reading to children at the library or sharing the resources from my book Violence and Abuse: Reasons and Remedies at the Women’s Shelter.
Since my job training ESL teachers and providing services as a life coach are totally portable, I’ll be able to continue both of those things.
I will also be using the time to take an online course on E-book creation and am treating it as a “writer’s retreat”, hoping to get some more work done on my next book, on the Spiritual Roots of Disease.
So as usual, life will continue to be full and rich!
How long will you be gone?
Who’s looking after your cats?
A neighbor will be moving in to my apartment to look after them while I’m away. I’m really happy they will get to stay in their own space, since they are both rescued cats who’ve lived in multiple homes before this. I’ll miss them terribly and had hoped to take them with me, but my host is deathly allergic to cats.
How did you find out about this?
The host is in my Ruhi Book 8 study circle (which I do over the phone with Bahá’ís all over the north), and put out a general appeal. No one else was crazy enough to want to go to Nunavut in the winter, so I said I’d go if someone would cover my airfare, never expecting it to happen! That’s the way my life seems to work! I’ve had the bounty of being able to travel to many places I wouldn’t otherwise been able to go, by making crazy offers like this, and trusting in God to open the doors!
Can you get groceries up there?
According to Wikipedia:
Food comes into the community by annual supply sealift. Groceries and household goods can be purchased at The North West Company Northern store or at the Kissarvik Cooperative. There are two convenience stores, one being The Red Top Variety Shop formally the Innukshuk Shop and the other being Kativik True Value Hardware. Both are locally owned and operated. There are several places to dine out which include The Wildwolf Cafe, The Captain’s Galley which is in the Siniktarvik Hotel, The Quick Stop, Turrarvik Inns North, and the Sugar Rush Café (Wikipedia).
My host has suggested that the prices are 10 times as high as in the south so I should bring all my food with me. Apparently it’s cheaper to pay overweight charges than to buy food there.
I am taking a big suitcase with dry goods and buying frozen goods from M&M meats, because they are all frozen in flat boxes which will be easier to pack. The local store has been very helpful, letting me buy things on sale, which they are keeping for me. They will wrap everything in Styrofoam sleeves; pack the more easily thaw-able items between the more solid ones; and have it ready for me to pick up on my way to the airport. I’m hoping to be able to keep it frozen till I get to my destination, at which point it will all be stored on the porch!
What about eating game?
Food from the land (often called “country food”), such as caribou, muskoxen, fish and ducks can usually be purchased locally but is not prepared commercially. Few communities have food processing plants.
How do people get their supplies or larger things, like cars?
Once a year, there’s an annual Sealift which allows the communities and residents to obtain their annual re-supply of goods and materials needed throughout the year. Things that are shipped include construction materials, vehicles, heavy equipment, house wares and non-perishable items.
Typically, sealift takes place between late June and late October each year. Delivery schedules are published but are always variable because of extreme ice and weather conditions at sea.
There’s a lot to consider before deciding to order via sealift. You can’t just order the goods and expect them to appear in your community. You have to be involved at many levels and take responsibility for their safe delivery to the ship and to your home.
Before you place the order and arrange for packaging you must book space on the sailing that you want to use to your community. You need to make sure there is adequate space. If space is confirmed, they will give you a booking number that you will need to give to the supplier and (if different from the supplier) the packaging company as well. This number and the consignee, and final destination must be painted onto your shipment so that it is loaded in the correct place and is entered in the ship’s manifest.
Two companies have contracts with the Government of Nunavut to provide yearly sea lifts into Rankin Inlet: Northern Transportation Company which provides services from Churchill, Manitoba; and Nunavut Sealink & Supply which provides services from Montreal. This is good because if there isn’t room on one ship for your cargo, you might be able to get it on the other, without having to wait another year!
If you are buying stock items from a southern supplier, you need to start making inquiries and receiving estimates no later than the end of January for the coming re-supply season. If you are buying goods that need to be specially ordered or the shipment needs assembly from a number of different suppliers, then you should start no later than the end of November of the previous year.
You must respect the dates given by the shipping companies for delivery of cargo to them. As all goods are loaded into ships according to the community and when that community’s goods will be unloaded, late deliveries cause considerable problems and may not be acceptable. Goods could be refused.
Things that need to be considered for getting an estimate for shipping cargo via sealift:
- Weight including the crate it will be packaged in (in kilograms)
- Volume of the crate it will be packaged in (in cubic meters)
- Price of packaging
- Price of getting the goods from the supplier to the ship
- Fuel adjustment factor
- Insurance costs
- Delivery costs in the community
You must ensure that you can afford to pay for the goods, their packaging and their shipment as all need to be prepaid. As expensive as all of this seems, it is still the most economical way to transport bulk goods to the arctic.
Special Note: Using a Freight Container (“Seacan”)
Using a freight container can reduce costs, but until handling facilities are available in each community, you need to be able to fill it to make it worthwhile. One way of doing this is to join with another person or possibly with some other families to put together enough goods to make it worthwhile.
Each company providing re-supply service prices their containers differently. There will be a price for transporting the container, but there may also be prices for using the container, and returning it. The companies will also make a charge if you do not return the container with the ship or barge that brought it. Keeping the container until the next season could cost you as much as $1,000, and the cost of using the container and then returning it could, with one company, be almost as much again.
A solution would be to purchase your own second hand container, particularly if you plan to store goods in it for some time, and the storage space would be useful in the future. Used containers vary in cost, but are generally about $2,500 delivered to Montreal. If you do buy one, make sure it is 20’ long and has fork lift pockets for safe handling from ship to shore. You should purchase from a reputable supplier that guarantees that the container is water tight and has working door locks and seals.
Although using a container may sound expensive, you do not have to spend money on extra packaging. For example, if you were shipping 20 cubic metres of goods, packaging alone would cost about $2,500, to which you would have to add as much again in freight costs.
How are you paying for all of this?
Even a “free” trip has lots of extra expenses! I will have to pay for:
- Warmer clothing
- Trip to the airport and back
- Pet Sitting
- Hotel and meals in Thunder Bay
- Overweight charges
Truthfully? I have absolutely no idea how it will all get paid for! My hours at work have been cut back severely so I’m doing it all on prayer, with trust and faith that God will take care of it from storehouses over which I have no control! Some people have generously donated money and gift cards; others have suggested they will help. Somehow it will all get covered. It always does!
What’s the nearest Bahá’í community?
I will be the only Bahá’í in Rankin Inlet. The closest Bahá’í community is in Baker Lake, which has a Bahá’í House! It will cost me $200 to fly there and perhaps I’ll get a chance to go!
The architect said:
The design objective is to create a building which could become a symbol of Unity and Spirituality among all the inhabitants of the area. The building form consists of 900 sq ft nine sided Assembly hall which stands out when seen from the main road. The Assembly hall is partially surrounded by a 1600 sq ft custodian house. The ceiling of the assembly hall contains 9 exposed glulaminated beams sitting in one end on the exterior walls and the other end on a central ceiling ring, the ring will hold a lighted symbol of the greatest name of God which is a well accepted symbol in the Baha’i Faith.
The Bahá’ís in Nunavut often participate in events by conference call, so I hope I’ll get to meet them that way.
How will you get there?
Rankin Inlet is a fly-in community. You can’t drive there from anywhere.
My host found 3 people willing to donate their air mile points so I could go. A friend will take me to Orillia to catch the shuttle to the airport in Toronto. I’ll fly to Thunder Bay and spend the night there, before catching an early flight (5 am) to Winnipeg and then on to Rankin Inlet. The whole trip will take 24 hours from Huntsville to Rankin Inlet, assuming there are no blizzards to shut down the airports!
How far north will you be?
As you can see from the following map, Rankin Inlet is in the southern part of Nunavut, on the north-western part of Hudson Bay, 1800 km north of Winnipeg.
What kind of airplane flies there?
I’ll be flying Air Canada Jazz from Toronto to Thunder Bay and staying “overnight”. I have to be at the airport at 3 am for a 5 am flight to Winnipeg! Then on to Rankin Inlet via First Air!
I’m not sure what kind of plane I’ll be flying from Winnipeg to Rankin, but their website says:
First Air operates a versatile fleet of aircraft for regularly scheduled passenger and air cargo services. All aircraft are gravel and ice strip equipped for landing in remote locations, and many are combination (combi) aircraft capable of multiple passenger/cargo configurations.
Their fleet includes:
This is most likely the plane I’ll be on:
The Boeing 737 is available in full passenger, full freighter or a number of combinations in between. This versatile aircraft is adaptable to various “combi” configurations, making this a suitable aircraft for bands, orchestras or research groups wanting to travel on the same plane as their equipment, or for large employee, team travel and tour programs movements. This aircraft can also be used in a full passenger, executive experience, with gourmet in-flight meals.
Or it could be this one:
The ATR 42 is a fast, comfortable, fuel-efficient state-of-the-art turbo prop aircraft. This flexible combi model has the ability to carry all passenger, all freight or any combination in between.
Or this one
The ATR 72 provides all of the benefits of the ATR 42, while increasing the carrying capacity to almost double the ATR 42. This stretched version of the ATR 42 is perfect for carrying groups of up to 34 with a cargo payload equivalent to an ATR 42 freighter. With large cargo door capacity it is an efficient freighter for the northern market. It also provides a midsize passenger aircraft capable of carrying up to 60 passengers in a full passenger configuration.
What does the airport look like?
I’ll get off the plane on the tarmac and walk into the terminal.
How much are the overweight charges?
Air Canada: I’m allowed one complimentary bag, and have to pay for 2 others. The maximum weight per bag is 50 lbs. I weighed my dry goods suitcase on a bathroom scale and I think it’s slightly less than 70 lbs! I won’t be able to weigh my frozen goods duffle bag till I get to the airport, but I imagine it will be similar.
From the following chart, it looks like I can expect to pay $270:
Bag 1: $75
Bag 2: $95
Bag 3: $100
If a bag is both overweight and oversized, the $75 fee is charged only once.
Each additional bag*
It’s not clear to me if “per direction” means From Toronto to Winnipeg; or Toronto to Thunder Bay and then Thunder Bay to Winnipeg. If I can’t check it right through to Winnipeg, it will then cost me $540! And keeping the frozen things frozen will be a LOT more complicated. Please pray that I can check it right through!
First Air: I’m allowed to check two pieces of baggage at 70 lbs each. Any bags weighing more than the free allowance will always be subject to excess baggage charges. Since I’m taking 3 suitcases of food (one as a carry-on); plus a laptop, books and clothes, I will have to pay for an extra suitcase on the inbound trip. Coming home, of course, I’ll have considerably less!
My carry-on’s can be 22 lbs. I think one is more than this already, so I’ll have to do some readjusting! I bought a luggage scale but it bent out of shape the first time I tried to use it!
Isn’t it cold there?
Ask someone from Nunavut for their first impression of Rankin Inlet, and they may tell you about the wind. They probably formed that impression from the moment they arrived. Located on the western shores of Hudson Bay, the community is well known for its severe winter storms, which can make the walk from the airplane to the air terminal seem like one of the coldest on Earth.
Rankin Inlet is known for chilling winds and severe winter storms (Wikipedia). It can be cold, harsh and unpredictable.
In December and January, average temperatures range from a daytime high of minus 22 to minus 35 (with wind chills of minus 62 to minus 68)!
Beginning on January 16, 2008, Rankin Inlet endured the longest recorded blizzard in Canada. Wind speed was 74 km/h or above, with gusts to 90 km/h, and the temperature was as low as -58°C with wind chill. The blizzard lasted 7 days 5 hours. (Wikipedia)
According to the Pulaarvik Kablu Friendship Centre:
The winter weather in Rankin makes southern Canada’s weather look positively wimpy. Sometimes we have three-week periods when the temperature never gets above -40 C. We often have long storms with winds around 100 kph. Sometimes you can see the sun above, but can’t see across the street due to the snow blowing on the ground, which is called “ground drift”. The sea is entirely covered by sea ice (siku) which moves up and down with the tides.
In the Arctic, the snow is not like the soft pretty stuff of the south. Our snow seldom falls in flakes. Instead we have tiny ice crystals, whipped about by the winds. It doesn’t “fall”, but is blown horizontally by strong winds, usually from the northwest.
The wind packs the snow. It’s seldom “fluffy”, but is laid down in thin layers by the wind, and is hard enough to walk on. You don’t need snowshoes. Sometimes the drifts build up to the roofs of houses.
In winter, all water is covered by ice. On the lakes it is about 2 metres thick. The sea ice is thinner, but not much.
Sea ice (siku) is not salty. The salt leaches out when it forms, and the ice is fresh. When the sea ice thaws in springtime, there is often a layer of fresh water on top of the salt water, at least until the first storm.
There are 4 meter tides in Rankin. What happens in winter?
Well, the tide still goes up and down, and the ice goes with it. Out on the inlet, the ice is flat, and moves up and down with the tide. At the shore, it sticks to the land and breaks into huge chunks as the tide goes in and out. This means that all shorelines are surrounded by tidal zones, huge chunks of ice all jumbled together, extending out about 50 m!
Not all of Hudson Bay freezes in winter. There are often open water areas that steam in the cold air. The edge between the sea ice and open water is called the “floe edge” and is a traditional hunting spot. You see hunters going out by snowmobile and sled (qamutik) with small boats loaded on the sleds. These are used to retrieve seals and whales caught at the floe edge.
Growing up in Winnipeg and having pioneered to Labrador for 4 years, this doesn’t sound as bad to me as it may to other people. In fact, it gives me “bragging rights”!
It’s a dry cold, which doesn’t feel as cold as the damp weather in Ontario, which goes right into your bones and settles there. Some people have suggested that:
Low humidity reduces the impact of the cold, making a -20C day feel like -5C in southern Canada. January through March are the coldest months. Wind chill factors are often more significant than the actual air temperature.
As an exchange student of mine once said: “There is no wrong weather; there’s only wrong clothes”! She’s absolutely right! I’ve bought long johns, thermal socks and boot liners; and ordered a neoprene face mask and bought some ski goggles. Stay tuned for pictures when I get there! J
Is there a lot of snow?
Most of the Arctic is a polar desert. There are long stretches of dry, cloudless days without precipitation. Northern communities get far less snow than many large southern centres like Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto or Edmonton. Blizzards are common in October and November and February through April. Blizzards can be severally affect travel (between or within communities) due to the lack of visibility.
How much daylight will there be?
There will be about 4 hours a day of daylight; 20 hours a day of dark!
This has me slightly concerned since I am prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder and can’t take my SAD lamp with me; and I don’t see in the dark!
That doesn’t stop me, though! I’m taking some daylight light bulbs to simulate daytime in the room where I’ll be working; and a headlamp flashlight to light my way in the dark. Stay tuned to see how they both work!
In any case, you can stand anything for 10 weeks!
Will you see the Northern Lights?
Yes, there’s a good possibility! It’s one of the benefits of so many dark days! Some people visit Rankin Inlet in winter, just to witness this remarkable spectacle.
This picture was taken in Rankin Inlet
Rankin Inlet, Nunavut
How big a town is it?
The population is 2,400. It is the second-most populated community in Nunavut (behind the capital of Iqaluit). The hamlet has a land area of 20.24 km² (7.8 sq mi).
Rankin Inlet is the business and transportation hub of the Kivalliq region and the gateway to Nunavut from Central and Western Canada.
The Downtown Core!
Has it been there a long time?
While Indigenous peoples have lived in this area for almost 2000 years, the town was founded by the owners of the Rankin Inlet Mine (nickel and copper) in 1957. The mine was the first employer of Inuit miners in Canada. Sadly it closed in 1962. Several unsuccessful attempts followed to develop alternate sources of income for the town. These included a pig ranch in 1969 and a chicken raising venture in the 1970s. Both animal groups were fed a diet of local fish which gave the meat an unpleasant flavour. It was also common for the animals to freeze to death or be eaten by polar bears. (Wikipedia) The community began to flourish after the government of the Northwest Territories moved its regional headquarters there.
What’s the history of the area?
According to Jimi Onalik:
During the first half of this century, Inuit contact with outsiders was limited to missionaries and Hudson’s Bay Company traders.
The 1940’s and ‘50’s were grim times for the Inuit of the entire Kivalliq region. A shift in the migration patterns of caribou led to widespread starvation among the Inland Caribou Inuit. To provide food and supplies to staving Inuit the Canadian government established communities along the west coast of Hudson Bay. Arviat, Whale Cove and Baker Lake were created to serve the needs of the local people.
Rankin Inlet, however, was formed with a different goal in mind. The Canadian government of the 1950’s believed that the subsistence economy was no longer viable and that modern technology would provide comfort to all. They wanted the Inuit to be brought into a wage based economy. The discovery of large amounts of nickel at Rankin Inlet, and the high price of the mineral during the Korean War, convinced the government to proceed with this plan.
In 1955 North Rankin Nickel Mines began production. Many Inuit hunters and trappers moved with their families to Rankin Inlet and became miners, working for a wage underground and in the mill. Inuit were brought In fromRepulse Bay, Coral Harbour, Chesterfield Inlet and Arviat to take part in what was viewed as a bold, new experiment. This experiment was to introduce the Inuit to the necessary skills for hard-rock mining and to a lifestyle of shift work and paycheques.
North Rankin Nickel Mines produces high-quality ore and plenty of work for 7 years. The Inuit employees were very hard working and much appreciated by the mine owners. In fact, many Inuit who worked here went on to other mines in southern Canada. Many residents of Rankin Inlet still have mementoes from friends and relatives who worked in towns such as Lynn Lake, Manitoba and Sudbury, Ontario.
The mine shut down in 1962, bringing another period of hardship that almost closed the hamlet. Families were now pressured to return to their home communities. Only after a series of negotiations with residents determined to keep their new home on the map, did the government allow Rankin Inlet to stay open. By now, however, the several hundred people who remained were used to the wage economy; they needed to find the means to support their families. As a result the mid’60’s were marked by a series of enterprising, sometimes bizarre, economic development schemes, not all as successful as the nickel mine.
In one venture, Rankin Inlet was briefly the site of one of the most northerly farms in Canada, producing chicken and pork for local use. After accounting for the costs of their accommodations, the chickens & eggs from this “farm” proved very expensive. Furthermore, the only affordable food available for the pigs was fish, leading, as you can imagine, to pretty fish-flavoured pork.
In another case, a cannery was opened to preserve local foods. Apparently though, the market for tinned seal meat and maktaaq in southern Canada was limited as this project did not last very long.
A successful, albeit short-lived, experiment was the creation of a ceramics studio in 1964.The fine pieces produced by the hunters, trappers, miners and artists were collected by individuals and galleries around the world. Despite the project’s artistic and commercial success the newly formed GNWT never fully backed it; in the early ‘70’s it died a slow death. Happily for art lovers everywhere, this unique studio has been revived recently through the efforts of a local artist. Now a new generation of artists work alongside their elders to produce exotic, eerily beautiful work.
By the early 1970’s, the headquarters for the Kivalliq Region moved from Churchill, Manitoba to Rankin Inlet. So Rankin was now a government town. The arrival of civil servants and their families revitalized the community. Elders who had been born on the land and had become miners, farmers and artists could not make the transition into government jobs. Their children, however, did find work in the new bureaucracy. They, like their parents, had experienced enormous change. Today they hold positions of power in Rankin Inlet.
Many believe that the resilience of the Inuit, born out of the necessity to adapt to enormous change over the last 50 years, will help the people of Rankin Inlet as they face even greater changes with the creation of Nunavut.
What does the town look like?
The town is north of the tree-line, which makes it a bleak, stark, treeless tundra. Once you get out of the town, in December and January, there’s nothing to see but snow and ice for miles and miles.
The town websites say:
Come take a Walking Tour through the community and you will see where north meets south, and a fascinating blend of 2 very different ways of life. You will find where an ancient past borders on a vibrant present. You can see caribou skins & arctic char drying on racks, outside of homes in the fresh Arctic Air. With the welcoming attitude of the people, the untouched landscape, the opening of the territorial correctional center, trade school and tremendous potential for mining, Rankin Inlet is a great place to live, visit, work or start a business.
Dozens of islands dot the inlet, including Thomson Island, the largest, and the Barrier Islands, the longest chain. These natural resources attract tourists who hunt, fish, and canoe. The Iqalugaarjuup Nunanga Territorial Park, 10 km northwest of Rankin Inlet, is notable for hiking, fishing, bird watching and Thule archaeological sites.
How close are you to the Hudson’s Bay?
It looks pretty close to me!
Are there Eskimos up there?
Yes, the majority of people are aboriginal. “Eskimo” is an old term meaning “eaters of raw meat” which is considered offensive. Now the word used to describe the population is “Inuit”, which means “first people”.
Here’s a discussion on the use of the word “Eskimo” in historical documents.
What language do they speak?
According to the Pulaarvik Kablu Friendship Centre:
Inuktitut, English, and French are the three official languages of Nunavut.
In Nunavut, the Inuit language is called Inuktitut. In its multiple dialects, Inuktitut has a huge geographical range. If the subject is not technical, Inuktitut can be understood by people from Alaska to Greenland.
Originally, Inuktitut was an oral language. Information was passed on by the telling and retelling of stories and memories. There are many dialects, and the language is constantly evolving. For example, the dialect spoken in Baker Lake and Arviat differs from that spoken a few hundred kilometers away in Rankin Inlet, and both of these differ markedly from Inuinnaqtun, spoken in the central Kitikmeot Region.
The written forms of Inuktitut were developed by missionaries who wanted to convert prayers, hymns, and the Bible into written form.
Here is a sample of syllabic Inuktitut.
The people of Qamaviniqtalik hunted caribou in spring and fall.
A person who knew Inuktitut well could learn this writing system in about 24 hours of study.In syllabics, the larger symbols represent sounds, usually combinations of consonants and vowels, and the small letters printed as superscripts are called “finals” and represent consonant sounds.
Cambridge Bay, Kugluktuk, the Bathurst Inlet area, and Holman continue to use the Roman orthography writing form taught to them by the western missionaries, but this dialectical writing system is now also being standardized and is called Inuinnaqtun.
Here is a sample of Inuinnaqtun.
The people of Qamaviniqtalik hunted caribou in spring and fall.
Innuin Qamaviniqtalikmi angunahuaqpaqtun tuktunik upingaami ukiakhamilu.
Here is a Bahá’í prayer in English:
Blessed is the spot, and the house, and the place, and the city, and the heart, and the mountain, and the refuge, and the cave, and the valley, and the land, and the sea, and the island, and the meadow where mention of God hath been made, and His praise glorified.
And the same prayer in Inuktitut:
Quviahuktuq una, iglulu, inilu, igluqarnirlu, uummallu, kingingnirlu, qimaiviuyullu, hitilu, narharlu, nunalu, tariurlu, qikiqtarlu, natirnaqlu Godim atia taiyauhimakpat, quyagiyauplunilu.
To hear the same prayer spoken in Inuktitut click here:
What do people do for a living?
Due to the large volume of traffic through the area, as well as a history of regional government, mining and exploration, Rankin Inlet has developed a strong taskforce of entrepreneurs. Freight expediters, equipment suppliers and outfitters can provide tourists and companies interested in doing business in the area with a wide variety of services. Rankin Inlet offers Arctic hunting, Arctic fishing, Inuit culture, Inuit artwork, Canadian Arctic tourism opportunities, caribou hunting guides, Arctic char fishing, Nunavut culture, Rankin Inlet Inukshuk info, Inuktiktuk, rock formations, Canadian national parks, and much more.
Rankin also has very rich gold resources outside of town, approximately 25 km from the core Comaplex Mines have found a large resource of Gold. Agnico-Eagle are have purchased the land and are hoping to have the mine under construction by 2013 and operational by 2015.
What other services are available?
There’s a CIBC bank machine which will work with my PC Financial bank card; and the stores accept debit cards. Yay! That makes my life easier!
There’s a library which I’ll check out and maybe do some volunteer work there.
Are there polar bears up there?
Yes, they are the largest of all bears. Sizes range from: males (780 to over 1430 lbs.) and females (330 to 550 lbs.)! The best time to see them is July, August and September.
What other animals can you see?
The local wildlife includes:
Foxes – Arctic Fox can change colours with the seasons, from white or bluish-gray during the winter to yellowish- white & brown in the summer.
Wolverine – one of the larger species of the weasel family. The wolverine has a muscular body, strong legs & short bushy tail. The wolverine is widely known to stand up to Polar Bears, to raid traps and raid cached food.
Walrus – marine mammal, lives in packs, has 2 long tusks. The male tusks are larger than the female tusks. Males usually weigh up to 1800 lbs. and females up to 1100 lbs.
Whales – mostly Beluga Whales in this area, occasional Bowhead whales or Narwhales. Beluga whales migrate from Churchill, MB during the summer, and return there in the fall, so I’m not likely to see any.
Caribou – Have adapted to the cold. Usually travel in herds. Main source of food for Inuit.
Birds – Canada Geese, Snow Geese, Bunting, Peregrine Falcon, Gyr Falcon, Raven, Seagull, Owls, Loons, Sandhill Cranes, Swans, Arctic Terns and in recent years Red Robins.
Fish – Arctic Char, Trout, Greyling, and Rock Cod
Siksik – Arctic Ground Squirrel is a social animal that live in colonies. They live in burrows, which have many entrances.
What’s the culture like?
Rankin Inlet is not only notable for its artists and artisans, it is recognized as housing the only Inuit fine-arts ceramics production facility in the world. Community artists work in a variety of mediums including ceramics, prints, bronze castings, carvings, watercolor and drawing. The Matchbox Gallery, founded in 1987, showcases art work and provides educational resources (Wikipedia).
Rankin Inlet sculptors work with hard grey stone as well as black ‘Keewatin’ stone, as well as ivory and in ceramics. Like Iqaluit, Rankin Inlet is a regional centre with varied art styles.
Entertainment and Recreation
What will you do for fun?
The town website says:
The community is also equipped with various recreational facilities to keep you active, such as a fitness center, hockey arena, curling arena, baseball diamond, recreational volleyball, basketball, soccer, badminton and hockey, an outdoor beach volleyball court and soccer field, a swimming pool, a nine hole golf course, and playgrounds throughout the community. There are a variety of events to keep you occupied throughout the year such as, arts and crafts shows, square dances, bingo, Pakalluk Time (town festival), Avataq Hockey Tournament, Christmas activities and many more. http://www.rankininlet.net/
Of all of these, the ones I can see myself doing are:
- Square dancing
- Christmas activities
I have to admit that this looks like fun, so here’s hoping!:
Tumi Tours: Travel over the sea ice by dogteam and traditional Inuit qamatik and explore the Hudson Bay coast. Experience arctic nights by iglu over night stays and northern lights viewing by dogsled.
Address: Box 630 | Rankin Inlet, NU | XOC OGO
Telephone: 1 867 645-2650
Is there TV?
Yes, my host has a satellite service but I’m not a TV person so I won’t be using it.
What about reading materials?
As you know, I love to read (I’m not a television person). There’s a library in town and a well-stocked Bahá’í library where I’ll be living.
I’ve ordered an ipad mini, which I can use as an ebook reader. I’ll be able to borrow ebooks free from my local library and read them on my ipad mini! Isn’t technology wonderful!?!
Is there a newspaper?
Yes, there are several:
Will you have access to a vehicle?
Not that I know about. My host has a temperamental car which he’d rather I not drive and I certainly don’t want to deal with the frustrations of someone else’s car breaking down!
I’ve agreed to walk everywhere, as I did in Labrador. I have some concerns about the large gaps between the houses, though! It means it will take longer than I anticipated to get places; and the wind will have more places to gust from!
Do people still travel by dog sled?
In winter, dog teams were the usual means of winter transportation until the 1960s, when the snowmobile began to be readily available. People usually did not have many dogs. A family might have only one or two dogs, and the adults in the family, especially the women, would often pull along with the dogs. The sled (qamutik) was small, and people walked while the dogs pulled the load. As people acquired more goods through trade, there was a need for larger teams. This had its disadvantages, however, as a dog ate about the same amount as a person, and the hunter had to hunt harder to find meat for his family plus a larger number of dogs. Many people still use dog teams in the Arctic. Now, most teams are recreational or racing teams. Sport hunting guides must use dog teams on polar bear hunts, so they keep teams as well. Dogsled races are a part of spring festivities in many communities.
Few activities equal the enchantment of riding behind a good dog team. You glide over the sea ice, passing islands cloaked in snow, watching incredible bands of colour in the sky. Despite what’s shown in the movies, a team moves without barking – the only sounds are the creak of the sled, whisper of runners on snow, breath of your dogs and the beat of their feet on the trail. Travelling by dogteam is not at all boring. You watch the dogs, talk to them, encourage them, and watch the interactions between teammates.
What time zone are you in?
Central time zone – one hour behind Ontario, so when it’s 8:00 pm in Ontario, it’s 7:00 pm in Rankin Inlet.
How will I be able to contact you?
If you want to send me something by snail mail, contact me for my addresss.
Incoming mail can take up to several weeks in Canada and longer from overseas.
I’m putting “call forward” on my phone, so you can call me at my home number and still reach me. If I have to call you back, I can use a service called “Penny Talk” which will cost me one cent a minute!
I’ll still have high speed internet access so email and facebook will be other ways to stay in touch.
Except for these blog postings, you won’t even know I’m gone!