Restricted, with an Alcohol Control Committee (October 2014)*
Click here for an update
Royal Bank of Canada branch. Light banking services are available at the Northern and Co-op Stores. Interac and credit card services are available at most retail stores. Internet banking is recommended.
Telephone and Internet (limited bandwidth) service is available. Limited cell phone service is available (check with service providers).
The present day community of Cambridge Bay is located on the western coast of Victoria Island, in an area that was an important traditional hunting and fishing site for the nomadic Copper Inuit of the area. The traditional name for Cambridge Bay, Ikaluktutiak, means “fair fishing place.” The Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) built a trading post east of the current location of the community in the early 1920s. The RCMP built its first post in Cambridge Bay in 1926 and the Anglican Church established a mission the following year. It was not until the late 1940s that the site actually became a permanent community. In 1947, a long-range navigational beacon was built in Cambridge Bay, which resulted in the construction of a few small houses. In the early 1950s, Cambridge Bay was chosen as the central coordinating site for the smaller DEW Line (Distant Early Warning) sites along the Arctic Coast, and the Hamlet moved to its present site. After the building of a federal day school, Inuit from around the region, who had lived their whole lives on the land, were told to relocate the community so that their children could go to school.
Cambridge Bay has continued to grow as a transportation hub for the Kitikmeot region, as a logistics centre for mineral exploration on the west coast of Nunavut, and as a major operational centre for some Government of Nunavut departments and Inuit heritage organizations. Hunting and fishing are still important activities in the area, which provide employment in hunting and processing Nunavut “country food” (wildlife hunted or fished for food) when wildlife stocks permit. Town sites of historical interest include the old DEW Line site and the resting spot of the remains of the Maud, the ship of the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, which are being returned to Norway.
The Government of Nunavut (GN) Employee Orientation website offers an excellent collection of material on the general history of Nunavut, together with an overview of Inuit culture and history and an explanation of how Inuit cultural principles are being incorporated into government operations and services. We recommend exploring this site once it is available again after their restructuring, for now you can try the general GN site for information.
Cambridge Bay is a fairly young community. According to the 2011 Census, the median age is 27.5 years. It revealed that there are 550 children under the age of 18, only 4% of the population is over the age of 65, and no one is older than 85. Elders are therefore regarded as a precious resource and an important link to traditional Inuit culture and language.
Kitikmeot Heritage Society (KHS) programs try to preserve traditional culture, with three Elders on its staff as language experts, and the KHS worked in partnership with the Kiilinik High School, May Hakongak Community Library and Iqaluktuuttiaq District Education Authority to fund and construct the May Hakongak Community Library and Cultural Centre after the community library burned down in 1998. Opened in 2002, the Centre is part of a combined museum, cultural centre, archives, art gallery, public library and school library. “This shared space allows students, younger children, their parents and grandparents to come together under one roof, exchanging ideas, skills, knowledge and values that reflect our traditional society and serve our contemporary needs.” (KHS, 2013) This space also enables the KHS to display important cultural artifacts and information for the benefit of the students in school, the community at large, and visitors to the region. You can visit the KHS website for more information.
The people of Cambridge Bay enjoy spending time “on the land” and a network of roads has built up on the outskirts of town that lead to cabins where many people base their outdoor activities. The roads run to Mount Pelly in one direction and to the ocean in the other.
There are three churches in Cambridge Bay: St. George’s Anglican Church, Our Lady of the Arctic Roman Catholic Church, and Glad Tidings Church.
The language you are most likely to hear daily in Cambridge Bay is English. Inuinnaqtun is the form of Inuit language used in Cambridge Bay, and in the 2011 Census 255 people declared it as their mother tongue. However, only around 90 people said that it was the language they used primarily at home (5% of the population); another 260 said they used it regularly at home. Inuinnaqtun is written in Roman orthography, rather than in the syllabics used in the Kivalliq and Qikiqtani regions. Inuinnaqtun is taught at school, and the Kitikmeot Heritage Society and the Nunavut Literacy Council are working to revitalize the use of Inuinnaqtun in daily life in the Kitikmeot regions through programs such as on-the-land camps with language immersion, traditional skills programs, and Inuinnaqtun publications. If you have been speaking Inuktitut in another community, be prepared to learn a different dialect. Although French is an official language in Nunavut, fewer than 10 people in Cambridge Bay said that they were Francophone in the 2011 Census. However, the Inuit language (Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun), English and French are all official languages of Nunavut, so you have the right to request government services in the official language of your choice.
In addition to being a transportation hub for the Kitikmeot region, Cambridge Bay is the base for a number of decentralized Government of Nunavut offices, such as the Mental Health and Addictions Division of the Department of Health. It also hosts the offices of several Inuit and land claim-related organizations, such as the Kitikmeot Inuit Association, Nunavut Impact Review Board, Nunavut Planning Commission, and the Lands and Resources Division of Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated. It is a logistical centre for regional mining exploration and development, such as the Hope Bay Belt Gold Project. Cambridge Bay is also the home of Kitikmeot Foods, the only federally-inspected meat processing plant in Nunavut that offers muskox meat for sale, which is available when the muskox harvest permits. The plant also processes Arctic char for commercial sale. The community is anticipating further growth with the promised construction of a High Arctic Research Centre, to be completed in 2017.
There is a branch of the Royal Bank of Canada in Cambridge Bay. The Northern and Co-op Stores offer “light banking” services, which may include the ability to maintain a small cash account with the store, cash cheques, etc. Interac and credit card services are generally available at most retail outlets. However, people often also establish Internet banking services and online methods of bill payment, particularly since postal service can often be delayed when bad weather disrupts transportation.
Excellent fishing for trout and char is found in the area, hence the traditional name for Cambridge Bay, Ikaluktutiak, “fair fishing place.” Land mammals include muskox, caribou, polar bears, grizzly bears, wolves, foxes and lemmings. A carefully regulated hunt for muskox takes place when the herd numbers permit.
Cambridge Bay, on the western coast of Nunavut, can experience wide variations in temperature. Winters are cold, with a daily average of-29ᵒC to -33ᵒC between December and March, and 225 days a year the temperature is under -10ᵒC. In Between June and August, however, temperatures can be in the teens, and have been known on occasion to exceed 20ᵒC. Average precipitation in a year is 69.6 mm of rain and 82.1 cm of snow. Cambridge Bay is also breezy, with an average wind speed of 21.2 km/h throughout the year. This can mean very cold wind chill temperatures in the winter; an average of 135 days a year has a wind chill below -40ᵒC. Current weather conditions and forecasts for Cambridge Bay are posted on the Environment Canada website.
People’s tolerance for cold varies with experience, but warm winter clothing is required for many months of every year. If you are moving to Nunavut, make sure you bring essential winter gear. Although you can sometimes purchase hand-made clothing, such as parkas and mitts, from local seamstresses, their services are not always available, and commercial winter clothing and footwear may be in low supply in the local stores. Check- in with your principal or colleagues for their advice on practical winter gear to purchase and bring with you.
At 69 degrees latitude, Cambridge Bay is located far enough north that the sun is below the horizon, creating polar night, from November 30 to January 11. From May 19 to July 22, the sun stays above the horizon, giving residents 24-hour daylight: the land of the midnight sun.
According to the 2011 Census, Cambridge Bay has 573 private dwellings, including 245 single detached houses, 35 semi-detached houses, 200 row houses, and 20 duplex apartments. The Nunavut Economic Developers Association website indicates that about 35% of these homes are privately owned. The remainder is made up of employer-supplied rental housing and public housing. As housing in Nunavut is in short supply, ask your employer about the housing provisions of your employment and its cost. You may need to share housing with another colleague. You should also ask about the appropriate housing insurance to acquire. If you have pets, you should state the need for pet-friendly accommodation clearly in your housing applications or other documentation. You should also be aware that there is no veterinary service in Cambridge Bay.
Water and sewage services, managed by the Hamlet, may be provided either by “utilidor,” a system of utility pipes designed to deal with Arctic permafrost conditions, or by trucked service. The utilidor is used mainly to service public buildings, and residences normally have a trucked service. This means you will have water and sewage tanks in the home, which are filled up and pumped out respectively on a regular schedule. Contact the Hamlet for details. People on trucked service need to be conscious of their level of water consumption, as supplementary fees may be charged if you require a special fill-up or pump-out. The Hamlet also provides garbage pick-up service.
Most homes are heated with oil furnaces and Fred H. Ross Heating Fuel is the local provider. Electrical power is supplied by Qulliq Energy’s local power plant. All telecommunications arrive in Nunavut via satellite. Telephone service is available only through NorthwesTel. Cellphone service is available, but not from all cellphone service providers. If you are a cellphone user, check to see if your current provider includes Nunavut in its coverage. Internet service is available from the local service providers (Qiniq, NorthwesTel DSL), with limited bandwidth capacity, or direct-to-home satellite (Xplornet), which requires special arrangements for satellite dish installation. Cable TV is provided by the Co-op and direct-to-home satellite TV by Bell Canada TV.
Local shopping and perishables are available from the Ikaluktutiak Co-Op, the Northern Store, and Kitikmeot Foods. See the contact list for phone numbers. Basic fresh staples such as milk, bread, and some fresh produce, along with canned and dry goods, are normally stocked throughout the year, although shortages can occur if supply planes are delayed due to weather. Store managers can sometimes order special items if they are requested. Kitikmeot Foods has a federally-inspected plant that processes muskox meat and Arctic char, as the harvest allows. If you are interested in these and other delicious and nutritious “country foods,” you can sample them at community feasts and may occasionally also be able to obtain them from local hunters. Local arts and crafts, clothing and jewelry can be purchased at Arctic Closet.
Food and supplies in Nunavut are generally expensive because of the added cost of shipping items north, despite the cost-of-living allowances paid by many employers, such as the Government of Nunavut’s Northern Allowance. Perishable items arrive by air freight, sea shipping lanes are open for only a brief period every year, and there are no highway links. Weather conditions also affect the arrival of planes, occasionally causing temporary shortages. If you have special dietary requirements (e.g., gluten-free, allergy-related, organic), you may wish to look into stocking up on particular supplies or identify suppliers that will ship north. You can find information about obtaining the food subsidies available for direct or personal orders under the Government of Canada’s Nutrition North program on its website. In addition, many businesses will ship items in unsubsidized food mail. Free shipping from Internet-based suppliers often becomes an important consideration. Several stores in Yellowknife regularly fill food orders from Cambridge Bay, especially fresh foods. Local residents can suggest favourite delivery methods and suppliers for food and items not available in the community.
Bulk supplies, large or heavy items (e.g., vehicles, furniture) and building supplies are usually brought in by annual sealift, more commonly known as “the barge” in the Kitikmeot region. The shipping season is short, and orders must be placed with shipping marshalling deadlines in mind. Companies that provide this service in Cambridge Bay are Nunavut Eastern Arctic Shipping and Northern Transportation Company Limited. See the contact list for phone numbers and websites.
Cambridge Bay is the Kitikmeot regional centre for health care and it has a regional health centre with both inpatient and outpatient capacity. Staffing reflects the size of the facility, including doctors who rotate in and out regularly, the regional supervisor of Community Health Programs, and several nurse practitioners. Basic medical care is provided, such as regular checkups, treatment of minor illnesses, and emergency first response. It also serves as the birthing centre for the Kitikmeot region for low-risk pregnancies. Patients who need specialist or serious emergency treatment are sent “south” to Yellowknife or Edmonton. The regional health office coordinates a number of health services for the region, such as dentistry, mental health services, medical travel, etc.
New residents of Nunavut are not immediately covered by Nunavut health care. You must be a resident of Nunavut for three months, with at least a one-year work contract, before you are eligible. You can download and complete the online Nunavut health card application, and mail it and the required documentation to the Department of Health after your three-month residency. Applications are also available at the Health Centre. It is very important that you have a Nunavut health card, because although your previous provincial or territorial health card may still cover your health expenses, it may not cover expenses such as medevacs (emergency chartered plane out of your community). If you intend to have family members or friends that are not residents of Nunavut visiting you, it is highly advised that they purchase medical insurance for the duration of their visit to cover expenses not typically covered by their province and territory. Under your employer’s health care benefits package you may also receive benefits for expenses such as prescription drugs, dental services and eyeglasses. Check with your assigned Benefits Officer for details.
There is a pharmacy in Cambridge Bay as well as a dental clinic. A dentist visits Cambridge Bay on a rotational schedule. Demand to see the dentist is usually very high. An optical team also visits on a rotational schedule, checking eyes and dispensing eyeglasses. Check with the Health Centre about the availability of these services.
You can also get more information about Nunavut’s health system online.
Cambridge Bay is accessible by air all year, with most routes passing through Yellowknife. Travellers from outside the Kitikmeot region must fly from Iqaluit, Rankin Inlet or southern Canada to Yellowknife, and then fly north. Canadian North and First Air offer flights to Cambridge Bay. For current flight scheduling information, see the contact list for airline websites and phone numbers. Because the airline market in Nunavut is small and specialized, costs are very high. Even if your employer covers your initial relocation costs, you should check prices before making personal travel plans.
Within town, taxi services are available please check the contact list for details. Many people also have private vehicles, which are brought in either by air or by annual sealift. However, garage services for private vehicles are limited.
The May Hakongak Community Library and Cultural Centre provide public library services, museum exhibits, and educational activities and programs. Contact the library for its current hours. The Hamlet supports the following recreational facilities: Luke Novoligak Community Hall, a hockey arena/curling rink, a small indoor swimming pool, weight and exercise room, two school gymnasiums, a baseball diamond, and playgrounds and tot lots. Its recreation office supports kids, teen and adult programs, and clubs and groups. There is a Lodge of the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks service club in Cambridge Bay.
Nearby Ovayok (Mount Pelly) Territorial Park offers 20 km of trails for hiking. Hunting and fishing are also popular activities for many people. Hunting and fishing regulations differ for residents who are beneficiaries under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. Contact the local GN Wildlife Management Office for any necessary licenses or wildlife tags.
Cambridge Bay’s spring festival is the Omingmak Frolics, which is held during the third weekend in May. It includes a fishing derby, competitive seal hunt, talent shows, snowmobile races and games, and other activities. Nunavut Day (July 9) is often celebrated with a music festival and other community activities.
Under the Nunavut Liquor Act and Regulations, Cambridge Bay is a Restricted community, with an Alcohol Control Committee (ACC). The ACC is a community-based group created by regulation under the Liquor Act. It decides who is allowed to bring alcohol into the community based on information that the RCMP provides, or on incidents reported within the community. The Municipal Council may also pass a resolution to prohibit alcohol temporarily during special occasions for up to 14 days (e.g., over the Christmas holiday). If you intend to bring alcohol into Cambridge Bay for personal consumption, be sure to check with the Municipality or the RCMP regarding current permitting requirements. Alcohol permits for residents are currently issued at Cambridge Bay Enterprises in the Helen Maksagak Building (see the contact list). The Government of Nunavut’s Department of Finance is responsible for overseeing alcohol control and distribution in Nunavut. You can consult its website for more information about the system.