Restricted, with an Alcohol Education Committee (October 2014)*
Click here for an update
There are no bank branches. Light banking services are available at the Co-op. Interac and credit card services are available. Internet banking is recommended.
Telephone and Internet (limited bandwidth) service is available. Cell phone service is currently not available.
Inuit and their predecessors have travelled and lived in the vicinity of Whale Cove since the pre-Dorset period (2500-500 BC). The Inuktitut name, Tikirarjuaq, means “long point.” The official community name, Whale Cove, reflects the abundance of beluga and other whales that congregate in the area, which attracted the attention of whalers and traders. Europeans first visited the area in the 1600s as part of the search for the Northwest Passage. Explorers Thomas Button and Luke Foxe both stopped in the area during their expeditions. Although the Hudson’s Bay Company established a trading post further down the coast, it was the federal government that encouraged Inuit to move into the area during the “starvation period” of 1957-58. As a result, Inuit in Whale Cove originate from three different Inuit groups in the region, bringing with them three distinct Inuktitut dialects. Whale Cove was incorporated as a Hamlet in 1976. It is located approximately 75 kilometres south of Rankin Inlet and many residents travel between the communities using a winter road on the sea ice.
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.
Life in Whale Cove reflects that of most small Inuit communities today, in which modern telecommunications and technology, such as televisions, the Internet and high-performance snowmobiles, coexist with subsistence hunting and fishing. Residents maintain traditional skills, such as sewing clothing in both modern and traditional materials, and move with the seasons to harvest resources from the land and sea, such as berry-picking and gathering mussels. Whale Cove has extensive social and family connections with the other Hudson’s Bay coastal communities nearby, Rankin Inlet and Arviat.
Two churches are located in the community that is visited by their respective clerks during certain times of the year. The priest from Arviat visits Saint Esprit Roman Catholic Mission, while Christ Church is a part of the Arviat Anglican Church parish.
Whale Cove shares many of the language characteristics of Rankin Inlet. There are several different Inuktitut dialects because people have come to the community from different areas of the Kivalliq region and there is also a long history of European contact. Although the majority of people would consider Inuktitut to be their mother tongue, English tends to be more commonly used. You can expect most public events and meetings to be conducted in both languages, but you should not expect general Inuktitut conversations to be translated automatically just because an English speaker is present. Because of the variety of Inuktitut dialects, if you have been speaking Inuktitut in another community you should be prepared to learn dialectal differences and have local residents correct your usage occasionally. 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.
Although the 2011 Census did not obtain any data from Whale Cove, the Nunavut Economic Developers Association indicates that 60% of the population is under 25.
Given that it is a small community where a large percentage of the population is very young, the economy of Whale Cove is primarily based on providing goods and services within the community and on traditional economic activities, such as wildlife harvesting and arts and crafts. The community also supports a small tourism industry and is a base from which to reach Iqalugaarjuup Nunanga Territorial Park.
As in many Nunavut communities, there are no bank branches in Whale Cove, and cash supplies can often become very limited. The Co-op offers “light banking” services, which may include the ability to maintain a small cash account with the store and to cash cheques for a service fee, etc. The Co-op allows cash withdrawals through Interac, cash supply permitting. Interac and credit card services are available at most retail stores. It is highly recommended that newcomers establish Internet banking services and online methods of bill payment, particularly since postal service can often be delayed when bad weather disrupts transportation.
There is abundant wildlife around Whale Cove. In addition to seals, beluga whales and bowhead whales, one can see walrus and polar bears. Arctic char and lake trout can be caught locally, and the summer season sees the arrival of a wide variety of birds, including geese. Small game, such as Arctic hare, ptarmigan and fox, among other species, are found nearby, and residents travel inland to hunt caribou.
The weather in Whale Cove is very similar to that of nearby Rankin Inlet. Winters are cold, with a daily average temperature of -31ᵒC in January. In the summertime, however, temperatures are moderate, with an average in July of 9.7ᵒC. Temperatures are frequently in the teens, and have been known on occasion to exceed 20ᵒC. It is also windy, with an average wind speed of 20.25 km/h throughout the year. Winter blizzards are common and can frequently disrupt the normal supply of services, from the Hamlet’s trucked water delivery and sewage pickup to incoming air flights carrying people and supplies. People learn to stock up and ration supplies during blizzards, which can last for more than a day. Current weather conditions and forecasts for Whale Cove 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, Whale Cove 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 the winter, the sun rises for a few brief hours at midday, with long dawn and twilight periods.
The Nunavut Economic Developers Association community profile indicates that there are around 20 private homes and 65 rental units in Whale Cove, which are mainly one-level detached and semi-detached units. Housing in Nunavut is in short supply, so 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 veterinary service in Whale Cove, although a travelling veterinary service from Winnipeg does visit Rankin Inlet from time to time.
Water and sewage services, provided by the Hamlet, are supplied by 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 the Co-op is the 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. Cell phone service is not currently available. Internet service is available from the local service providers (Qiniq, NorthwesTel, Netkaster or dial-up), 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.
The local co-operative store, Issatik Co-Operative Association, is the only store that operates in Whale Cove. It provides local goods and perishables. Basic fresh staples, such as milk, bread, and some fresh produce, together with canned and dry goods, are normally stocked throughout the year, although shortages can occur if supply planes are delayed by poor 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, is not usually sold in these stores, but 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. See the contact list for phone numbers.
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. Many businesses will also ship items in unsubsidized food mail. Free shipping from Internet-based suppliers often becomes an important consideration. Local residents can suggest favourite delivery methods and suppliers of food and supplies that are 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 Kivalliq region. The shipping season is short, and orders must be placed with shipping marshalling deadlines in mind. Companies that provide this service in Whale Cover are Nunavut Eastern Arctic Shipping and Nunavut Sealink and Supply. See the contact list for phone numbers and websites. Barge orders can be extremely important in smaller communities such as Whale Cove, because there is only one store in-town and certain supplies can be out or low, particularly during periods of bad weather.
Whale Cove is served by a Health Centre (also referred to as the Nursing Station) staffed by nurse practitioners. Basic medical care is provided, such as regular checkups, the treatment of minor illnesses, and emergency first response. The number of nurses at the Health Centre reflects the size of the community. Whale Cove has regular visits from community physicians, in addition to visits from specialists and dentists. Regional services are provided through the Rankin Health Centre, with support from hospitals in Winnipeg. Those requiring specialist or serious emergency treatment are frequently sent to Rankin Inlet or “south,” 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 form, and then mail the completed form together with the required documentation, to the Department of Health after your three-month residency. Application forms 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 package you may also receive benefits for expenses, such as prescription drugs, dental services and eyeglasses. Check with your assigned Benefits Officer for details.
Pharmacies are located in Rankin Inlet. The Health Centre may also supply some emergency prescriptions, but the supplies on hand are limited. If you have a medical condition requiring ongoing prescriptions, you should make arrangements with a pharmacy to have your prescriptions sent to you. Be prepared to allow plenty of time for your order to arrive because delivery may be delayed by poor weather conditions.
Whale Cove has a dental clinic, which may be staffed by a dental therapist. A dentist visits Whale Cove 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 for the availability of these services.
You can check online for more information about Nunavut’s health system.
Travel to Whale Cove is routed through Rankin Inlet via First Air and Canadian North. First Air (Sakku First Aviation) flies into Whale Cove. Canadian North links up with Calm Air, which also provides service from Winnipeg. Service is not necessarily daily, and 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 employer covered your initial relocation costs, you should check prices before making personal travel plans.
The airport is 14 kilometres away from the Hamlet and there is currently no taxi service (unless one was started recently) in Whale Cove. Before arriving, you should arrange transportation with local contacts. The hotel offers a shuttle service for guests, for a fee. Vehicle rental may also be available. Please see the contact list for phone numbers and details. Most people get around on snowmobiles in the winter and all-terrain vehicles in the summer.
The Hamlet maintains a recreational centre. Hockey is extremely popular in the winter. Often teams will travel to nearby communities to participate in tournaments, and the whole region is highly competitive. Walks to the monument of a whale’s tail just outside the community are also a favourite activity, although everyone is always conscious of the possibility of polar bears in the vicinity. People engage in traditional pastimes, including camping and berry-picking in summer and early fall, as well as year-round hunting and fishing for caribou, beluga whales, and Arctic char. 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 these activities.
Whale Cove holds a number of festivals throughout the year. Easter festivities include igloo building and snowmobile racing. On the Victoria Day weekend, an annual fishing derby is held. On July 1, Hamlet Days and Canada Day Festivities include traditional Arctic games and contests, such as tea and bannock making, inuksuk building and rabbit hunting. The community celebrates Christmas and New Year with feasts, games and dances.
Under the Nunavut Liquor Act and Regulations, Whale Cove is a Restricted community, with an Alcohol Education Committee (AEC). This means the AEC determines how alcohol is controlled and consumed in the community. The AEC is a community-based group created by regulation under the Liquor Act. The members are elected at the same time as Hamlet councillors. The committee’s mandate is to educate its community on how to prevent alcohol abuse. In general, the AEC controls and approves how much alcohol an individual can bring into the community. Contact the Hamlet Office for current information. The Government of Nunavut’s Department of Finance is responsible for overseeing alcohol control and distribution in Nunavut. Please consult its website for more information on the system.