Unrestricted. Import regulations apply (June 2013)*
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Royal Bank of Canada branch, CIBC branch. Light banking at Northern Store. Interac and credit card services available at most retail stores. Internet banking is also recommended.
Telephone and Internet (limited bandwidth) service is available. Limited cell phone service is available (check with service providers).
The area around present-day Rankin Inlet, situated on the western side of Hudson Bay, was occupied as far back as pre-Dorset times (2000-500 BC), with Inuit moving in and out of the area in concert with the availability of wildlife. In addition to the presence of whales, which later attracted the whaling fleets of the 1800s, the Diane and Meliadine Rivers provided seasonal access to Arctic char migrating in and out of the bay. The Inuktitut name for Rankin, Kangiqsliniq (or Kangiqliniq) means “deep bay or inlet.” The area of what is now Rankin Inlet was the focus of much European activity, starting as early as the 1600s, when the inlet was named after John Rankin of the British Navy. From its base in Churchill, the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) travelled into the area to trade with local residents, and many Inuit found employment with British and American whalers until the collapse of the industry in the early 1900s.
The current physical site of the community is a result of the construction of the North Rankin Nickel Mine in 1955, which operated until 1962. The mine provided wage employment and attracted Inuit from throughout the region. After the closure of the mine and the mill, the federal government initiated a series of development projects to provide a range of employment opportunities, from agricultural experiments to arts and craft projects. In the 1970s, the government moved the administrative centre for the area from Churchill to Rankin Inlet, and the role of the community evolved into the regional transportation and supply centre, given the deep port and airstrip. With the formation of Nunavut in 1999, Rankin Inlet became one of the communities to host a number of decentralized territorial government departments and services. Higher mineral prices and the certainty resulting from a settled land claim and government structure, have also reinvigorated the mining industry, which continues to develop in the area.
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.
The Puularvik Kublu Friendship Centre co-ordinates several social, historical and cultural projects for Rankin Inlet and the Kivalliq region that focus on preserving Inuit culture. These include programs for youth and Elders, documenting and passing on traditional Inuit skills, such as camping on the land, iglu building, sewing skin clothing and maintaining dog teams. The centre’s website contains a number of photographs, links and resources.
As the site of a number of government initiated economic development projects in the 1960s and 1970s, Rankin Inlet developed a diverse arts scene, with influences evident from all over the region. It is the only community in Nunavut with Inuit artists producing ceramics. The first ceramics workshop ran from 1963 to 1977, and was revived in the 1990s. The Kangirqliniq Centre for Arts and Learning is an outgrowth of arts and literacy programming presented by the Matchbox Gallery since 1995, and it is now a centre for ceramics, printmaking, carving and other artistic media.
Rankin Inlet has several churches: Notre Dame du Cap Roman Catholic Church, Holy Comforter Anglican Church, and a Glad Tidings congregation.
Like Nunavut’s other regional transportation and administrative centres, Iqaluit and Cambridge Bay, there is more language diversity in Rankin Inlet than in the smaller Nunavut communities, with English being the general working language. In the 2011 census, 35% of the population declared their mother tongue to be English, 1% French, 59% Inuktitut, and 4% other languages. However, English is the predominant language at home for 63% of the population. Inuktitut is the first language at home for 32%. Rankin also has a Filipino community that speaks Tagalog at home (2%). English is spoken by 95% of Rankin residents and only 2% are unilingual Inuktitut speakers. The majority of the population is bilingual, so although Inuktitut is not as prevalent as in some other parts of Nunavut, 68% of the population says it uses Inuktitut regularly in the home to some degree. You can expect most public events and meetings to be conducted in both languages. In addition, Inuktitut dialects vary widely across Nunavut, so if you have been speaking Inuktitut in another community, be prepared to learn dialectal differences and perhaps be corrected in your usage by local residents. 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.
Like the other regional centres, Cambridge Bay and Iqaluit, Rankin Inlet is at the older end of Nunavut’s very young demographic scale. The 2011 census counted 240 pre-school and 585 school-age children, making 36% of the population under 18. The median age of the community is 25.4, but only 3% of the population is over 65.
The community of Rankin Inlet has a diverse economy as a result of the role the community plays as a transportation hub and regional administrative centre. Most travel within the region passes through Rankin Inlet, where travelers arriving by jet can link up with community flights on smaller aircraft. Freight arrives by sealift in the summer months and by plane in the winter. As a regional centre, Rankin Inlet hosts a number of Government of Nunavut and federal government offices, a regional health centre, a corrections facility, and the regional campus of Nunavut Arctic College, including the Nunavut trades training facility. Among other Government of Nunavut offices are the liquor management offices of the Department of Finance, transportation programs for Economic Development and Transportation, and the headquarters for the Nunavut Development Corporation. Regional Inuit organizations, such as the Kivalliq Inuit Association, are based in the community.
The community is also involved in local mine development and in supporting other regional communities with operating and proposed mines. Development of a new gold mine nearby has had a major impact, with opening planned for 2017. Tourism and the arts and crafts industry provide employment to a number of residents through outfitting companies, hotels and restaurants, and commercial craft outlets and galleries. The local service economy is also busy, with a number of independent businesses as well as municipality-supplied services for local residents and the mining industry.
There are branches of the Royal Bank of Canada and CIBC in Rankin Inlet. The Northern Store also offers “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 by bad weather and travel disruptions.
Rankin Inlet’s location on the west coast of Hudson Bay provides access to both marine and inland wildlife. The local rivers, the Meliadine and Diane, support Arctic char. Seals, whales, walrus and polar bear can be found near the community, and caribou herds are present inland together with small game species, such as lemming, foxes, wolves and small ground squirrels locally known as siksik. The local topography supports a wide variety of bird species, both cliff-dwelling and those that nest in the moist, flat ground. These include ptarmigan, geese, ducks, song birds, phalaropes, plovers, raptors, and many others.
Winters in Rankin Inlet are cold. The daily average temperature is between -26.7ᵒC and -30.1ᵒC from December through February. Daily minimums are below -30ᵒC in January and February and for 222 days a year temperatures are under 0ᵒC. In the summer, July and August temperatures are frequently in the teens, and have been known on occasion to exceed 20ᵒC. Average precipitation is 119 cm of snow a year and 181.5 mm of rain. It’s also windy, with an average wind speed of 23 km/h throughout the year. The wind chill exceeds -40ᵒC for 106 days a year. Winter blizzards are common, and periods of low visibility can frequently cause delays in air transportation and the movement of supplies. Current weather conditions and forecasts for Rankin Inlet 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 62 degrees latitude, Rankin Inlet is “north of sixty” but not quite in the land of the midnight sun. During the summer, the sun will skim just below the horizon, setting but leaving the land in a twilight state for three or four hours. In winter, the sun rises for a few brief hours at midday, with long dawn and twilight periods.
According to the 2011 Census, Rankin Inlet has 625 occupied private dwellings, comprising 400 single detached houses, 35 semi-detached houses, 145 row houses, five duplex apartments and 40 apartment buildings under five storeys (there are none over five storeys). The Nunavut Economic Developers Association website indicates that about 31% of these homes are privately owned. The remainder is rental housing, chiefly provided by employers, or public housing. As housing in Nunavut is in short supply, ask your employer about the housing provisions of your employment and its cost. There is a possibility that you may be required to share housing with another colleague. You should also ask about the appropriate housing insurance to acquire. If you have pets, the need for pet-friendly accommodation should be clearly indicated in any housing applications or documentation. You should also be aware that there is no permanent veterinary service in Rankin Inlet, although the community does arrange yearly visits from veterinary service providers from Winnipeg.
Municipal services for water and sewage are provided by “utilidor,” a system of utility pipes designed to deal with Arctic permafrost conditions. The Municipality also provides a garbage pick-up service. Most homes are heated with oil furnaces and M & T Fuel Services is the current local heating fuel 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.
Rankin Inlet offers several options for local shopping and perishables: Kissarvik Co-Operative Association, the Northern Store, Kativik Ltd./True Value Hardware (which is more than a hardware store), and the Red Top Variety Shop convenience store. 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 by bad weather. Store managers can sometimes order special items if they are requested. “Country food” (wildlife hunted or fished for food) such as caribou, fish or seal may be available from Kivalliq Arctic Foods, along with smoked fish. If you are interested, you can sample these delicious and nutritious foods at community feasts and may occasionally be able to obtain them from local hunters. Local arts and crafts can be purchased from Ivalu, there’s a small airport gift shop, as well as directly from the artists.
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 sources 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. Many businesses will ship items in unsubsidized food mail. Free shipping from Internet-based suppliers often becomes an important consideration. Local residents can suggest favourite methods and suppliers for food and supplies not available in the community, including “country food” from other Nunavut communities.
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 Kivalliq region. The shipping season is short, and orders must be placed with shipping marshalling deadlines in mind. Companies providing shipping service in Rankin Inlet are Nunavut Eastern Arctic Shipping and Nunavut Sealink and Supply. See the contact list for phone numbers and websites.
Rankin Inlet is served by the Rankin Inlet Health Centre. Basic medical care is provided, such as regular checkups, treatment of minor illnesses, and emergency first response. It is also the regional health centre and birthing centre for the Kivalliq region. The number of nurses at the Health Centre reflects the size of the community. Rankin Inlet has regular visits from community physicians, in addition to visits from specialists and dentists. The regional services are provided with support from hospitals in Winnipeg. Those requiring specialist or serious emergency treatment are often sent “south” to Winnipeg, depending on the nature and seriousness of the complaint.
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, together with 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 are a few pharmacies in Rankin Inlet as well as dental clinics. An optical team also visits on a rotational schedule, checking eyes and dispensing eyeglasses. Check with the Health Centre for the availability of these services.
You can check online for more information about Nunavut’s health system.
Rankin Inlet is one of Nunavut’s major transportation hubs. Canadian North and First Air provide jet service several times a week between Iqaluit and Yellowknife, with a stop in Rankin Inlet. It is also the connection point for most flights to the smaller communities in the Kivalliq region. From Rankin Inlet, connections can be made to Winnipeg and Churchill directly with First Air and Calm Air daily, to Edmonton from Yellowknife, and to Ottawa through Iqaluit. Connections can also be made to the First Air flight from Iqaluit to Montréal that stops in Kuujjuaq, Québec, along the way. Service on smaller ATR planes is also available several days a week from Rankin to Iqaluit, with stops in other communities. Service can change seasonally, so check with the airlines for up-to-date scheduling. See the contact list for phone numbers and websites. Because the airline market in Nunavut is small and specialized, costs are very high. Even if your initial relocation costs are covered by your employer, you should check prices before making personal travel plans.
There is a taxi service in Rankin; see the contact list for phone numbers. Many people get around on snowmobiles in the winter and all-terrain vehicles in the summer, but private vehicles brought up on the annual sealift are becoming increasingly common. There are garages for servicing vehicles.
The Municipality maintains a number of recreation facilities, including hockey and curling arenas, an outdoor soccer field, a baseball diamond and playgrounds. The community also has a 9-hole golf course. Summer scheduled activities may include softball, outdoor soccer and ball hockey. In the winter, programs are run in the school gyms for sports, such as indoor soccer (a very popular sport in Nunavut), volleyball, badminton and basketball. The Municipality also organizes and schedules community bingo. For those interested in community service clubs, there is an active branch of the Royal Canadian Legion with its Ladies’ Auxiliary. The Legion runs a licensed lounge, with sign-in rules for guests. In addition to regular activities, the Legion engages in significant fundraising for the community.
Hockey is an extremely important recreational activity for Rankin residents of all ages. Several tournaments are held over the course of a season, such as the Polar Bear Plate, the Challenge Cup, and the Sakku First Avataq Cup, as well as tournaments for junior level players, such as the girls’ teams and the Peewee and Atom levels for boys. People will fly in from other communities to participate in these tournaments. Information about the senior men’s hockey league and tournaments can be found on the Rankin Hockey website. (www.rankinhockey.com)
John Ayaruaq Library is a joint school-public library located in Maani Ulujuk Ilinniarvik. It offers a full range of public library services and public Internet access, and has offered read-aloud programs and Elders’ storytelling time. Contact the library for current hours and special programs.
A list of current community events is kept on the Municipality’s website. These include various sporting tournaments and derbies, and holiday festivities for Canada Day, Nunavut Day and the Christmas holiday period. Rankin Inlet holds its annual festival, called Pakallak Time, in the spring. This involves games, races, dances and community feasts, and includes a very popular fishing derby. 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 if you intend to participate in hunting or fishing activities.
Under the current Nunavut Liquor Act, Rankin Inlet is classified as an Unrestricted community, which means that the sale, possession and consumption of alcohol are allowed, in compliance with the general alcohol laws of Nunavut. Alcohol can be purchased in licensed premises, when such are available, or can be brought in through a liquor permit system for personal home use. Although there is a liquor warehouse in Rankin Inlet that supplies licensed premises, fills orders from outside of Rankin, and serves those purchasing for a special occasion license, there is no liquor store where the general public can purchase liquor directly for home consumption. There is a licensed lounge in the Siniktarvik Hotel, but this is for use by guests only, and there are currently no licensed dining establishments in Rankin. However, groups may occasionally obtain special occasion licenses for community events, such as “beer dances.” There is a branch of the Royal Canadian Legion in Rankin Inlet, where people can go for drinks, but you must be a Legion member or be signed in as a guest by a member to use the facility. As permitted under the Nunavut Liquor Act, from time to time the Municipality may pass resolutions to prohibit alcohol temporarily during special occasions. The Government of Nunavut’s Department of Finance is responsible for overseeing alcohol control and distribution in Nunavut, and you can also consult its website for more information about the system.