If you want to visit Iqaluit during a time when there is a lot of activity and visitors from all other regions of Nunavut I highly recommend the Nunavut Tradeshow that is held in Iqaluit.
There are exhibitors from many of the other regions, businesses, local organizations and artist.
There is entertainment, I really enjoyed the traditional drum dancers and throat singers during the opening ceremonies.
If you go off the beaten path and visit Apex go to the far end of this small community and on the side of the mountain you will find dozens of Inukshuks everywhere on the mountain.
It is a great place to get some great pictures and I recommend you taking the time to go over to Apex and enjoy these sights.
Set on Iqaluit's beachfront right next to the Unikkaarvik Visitors Centre. The town's Museum Society was formed in 1969 to ensure that a small collection of Baffin Island historical artifacts would remain in the Eastern Arctic. The collection was displayed sporadically in locations like the liquor warehouse and the library. It found a permanent home in the mid 1980s, when the Museum Society bought an old Hudson's Bay Company building and moved it from Apex to its present location. You will find permanent artifacts or take in visiting exhibitions and lectures by resident elders.
The hours during my visit were from 1pm to 5 pm. Be sure to take off your boots and there is also a nice little gift store. The prices are amongst the best in Iqaluit and the profit goes toward improving and operating the museum. I believe they also accept donations.
Like throat singing, drum dancing is equally as impressive. I have been fortunate enough to enjoy this now on a couple of occassions.
I have a theory that the further north you go in Canada the more authentic drum dancing experience you will find.
For centuries, the beating of the drum has signalled the gathering of Inuit. The drum in the North, is heard especially in celebration of special occasions. Singers sit in a circle, while dancers swirl about to the beat of the pulsing drum. Today, the drum dance is still practiced in several communities and is always a unique treat for visitors.
Throughout history at different times I know this art was not encouraged by religous regimes that entered the north, claiming it was headen music and in some cases made it shameful.
It is impressive to see this coming back with traditional drum making and younger Inuit children learning to play again.
Traditional Inuit Children Competition Display Video
This video is just 15 seconds, see instructions below :-) Please rate my tips and leave your comments!
Throat singing is a must see if you are in Iqaluit. It is like a competition between two singers to sing the longest. Usually between two ladies who each face each other.
I was able to witness this at the Nunavut Trade Show and it is a great cultural thing to witness.
Katadjak?, or throat-singing, is a form of vocal-verbal art common to many (but not all) Inuit cultures. Banned by Christian priests for almost a hundred years despite its apparently secular nature, it is most commonly practiced by women ? generally by two women facing off against each other in a form of friendly competition.
Writes the musicologist Bruno Desch?nes:
"Inuit throat-singing is not singing per se. Ethnomusicologists suggest that it should be viewed as vocal games or breathing games more than anything else.
Traditionally, they are considered ?games in which one makes noises,? as the Inuit would say." And further:
Inuit throat-singing is done in the following way: two women face each other; they may be standing or crouching down; one is leading, while the other responds; the leader produces a short rhythmic motif that she repeats with a short silent gap in-between, while the other is rhythmically filling in the gaps. The game is such that both singers try to show their vocal abilities in competition, by exchanging these vocal motives. The first to run out of breath or be unable to maintain the pace of the other singer will start to laugh or simply stop and will thus lose the game. It generally lasts between one and three minutes. The winner is the singer who beats the largest number of people.
Originally, the lips of the two women were almost touching. The sounds used include voiced sounds as well as unvoiced ones, both through inhalation or exhalation. Because of this, singers develop a breathing technique, somewhat comparable to circular breathing used by some players of wind instruments. In this way, they can go on for hours.
I have already highlighted the territorial legislature, but if your interested in municipal city politics you can check out the Iqaluit council chambers at the town hall.
I have the web site for the city and a picture of the council chambers. Enjoy your stay!!
The legislature is located at Iqaluit's main intersection the four corners, the legislative assembly is the political centre of Nunavut.
The building's shape is designed to work with harsh weather rather than against it. The roof slopes upwards two storeys high in front and three in the back. Inside see the art and other displays including a qamutiik made with whale bone runners.
You can arrange for an official tour and interpretation. I remember the amazing seal skin chairs and the art work throughout the building was amazing!
Nunavut Arctic College is a modern facility and another great place to see lots of stone carvings.
In 1968, the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) established the Adult Vocational Training Centre (AVTC) in Fort Smith, offering trades training and one of the first teacher education programs for aboriginal peoples in North America.
Some post-secondary programs were offered in the eastern Arctic during the 1970s, but never on a regular basis, and eastern Arctic Inuit were forced to seek education in the western NWT. The distance from home, and linguistic and cultural differences, contributed to low completion rates, and Inuit, in what is now Nunavut, began to demand educational opportunities closer to home. The first such opportunities, the Eastern Arctic Teacher Education Program (EATEP) and the Sanavik Housing Maintainer Program, opened their doors in Iqaluit, known then as Frobisher Bay, in 1979.
The big mural is of three important people from Nunavut history are portrayed in an imposing series by Craig Clark that appears roadsde on the way to the cemetery.
The three people are Jessie Oonark from Baker Lake, Abe Okpik from Iqaluit and Father Mary from Pond Inlet.
Located near the breakwater on the beach, Unikkaarvik has maps, brochures and advice for travellers. Check out the larger than life pink marble carving of drummer and displays in the foyer, or buy a few souvenirs. Open afternoons Monday to Saturday in winter, and seven afternoons a week in the summer.
I recommend you take the time to sit and watch the video as well to absorb the Inuit culture.
There are Canadian Inuit Dogs in Iqaluit and they are beautiful.
The roots of the Inuit dog, or Qimmiq, date back 4,000 years, possibly more. Along with the Inuit people, this breed survived the harsh conditions of the Arctic. In more modern times, these dogs took explorers to both poles. Yet his very existence was threatened with the arrival of southern technology and other influences. Crossbreeding with Southern breeds endangered the original purity of the Inuit dog. The advent of snowmobiles into Arctic settlements was the final blow. In recent times, some Inuit hunters and other interested people in both the North and the South have endeavoured to preserve the breed and restore viable numbers of purebred Inuit dogs.
It is not adviseable to approach them unless with a guide or the owner of the dogs.
There are plenty of different birds to find in and around Iqaluit. All I was able to find where some small snow birds, sea gulls and ravens.
The rock ptarmigan or aqiggiq is a truly Arctic bird that winters in and around Iqaluit, its plumage changing to match the seasons.
I did take a picture of a display in the local legislature just to show what one looks like.
Iqaluit is 33.5 metres above sea level and has some of the dramatic tidal drops in the world. Reportedly only second to the Bay of Fundy.
In the summer this spectable can be witnessed more clearly but in my picture you can see the dramatic effect it has on the ice during the winter season.
"Pagoda" translates into when the east meets the west. This one is made of stone and located right next to the Nunavut Arctic College.