Prohibited (October 2014)*
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ATM located at Northern Store. Light banking services at Northern and Co-op Stores. Interac and credit card services available at most retail stores. Internet banking is recommended.
Telephone and Internet (limited bandwidth) service is available. There is no cell phone service.
Coral Harbour takes its official name from the fossils in the surrounding area, and archaeological records show that Inuit have inhabited Southampton Island since the times of Dorset Culture (500 BC to 1500 AD). They call the location Salliq, meaning “a large flat island in front of the mainland.” The first recorded European contact in the area was British explorer Thomas Button in 1613. He was looking for both the Northwest Passage and evidence of what happened to Henry Hudson, who had entered the bay that holds his name in 1611. Button named the island after the Earl of Southampton of the day. The waters around Southampton Island formed a major bowhead whaling area. Whaling started in the late 1700s and carried on into the early 1900s, when the number of whales dropped and technology moved to other sources of oil. Known as Sallirmiut, possibly the last descendants of the Thule people, the resident Inuit population of the island was wiped out in 1902-03 when they were infected with what is believed to be typhoid, brought to the island by a Scottish whaler. Remains of the encampment can be found at Native Point.
In about 1912-1913, Inuit from the area of Repulse Bay and Chesterfield Inlet, on the west coast of Hudson Bay, migrated to the island. The Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) established a post at Coral Harbour in 1924 after being relocated from nearby Coats Island. It attracted Inuit, not only from the Southampton area, but also from locations much farther away. Both Anglican and Catholic missions began operating in the vicinity after the HBC arrived. During the Second World War, the U.S. military built an airstrip and associated facilities, which became part of the northern route to Europe (Crimson Route) for moving aircraft and supplies. The existence of the base provided a platform for the development of the DEW Line (Distant Early Warning) bases in the Cold War period immediately following World War II. The Canadian federal government became more active in the area with the construction of a school in 1950, a nursing station in 1963, and community housing. Coral Harbour was incorporated as a Hamlet in 1972.
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.
Coral Harbour is a traditional community in which hunting and fishing are a prevalent part of everyday life. As a reflection of their vibrant culture, many local women make home-crafted parkas, hand-sewn fur mitts and traditional sealskin to provide warm clothing for their families. Churches also form an important part of the social fabric. Coral Harbour has churches of three Christian denominations: Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Glad Tidings. Please see the contact list for phone numbers.
The language used in Coral Harbour is predominantly Inuktitut. According to the 2011 Census, 92% of residents call Inuktitut their mother tongue, and 73% say it is the language used most often at home. However, almost everyone also speaks English. About 60% use English as a second language in the home and only about 5% say they do not speak English or French. There are a few French speakers in Coral Harbour as well. You can expect public meetings to be conducted in English and Inuktitut, but many conversations will be carried on entirely in Inuktitut, and you should not expect general Inuktitut conversations to be translated automatically just because an English speaker is present. Inuktitut dialects vary widely across Nunavut, so if you have been speaking Inuktitut in another community, be prepared to learn dialectal differences and perhaps have local residents correct your usage. 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.
Coral Harbour’s population is young by Canadian standards, but in the middle range for Nunavut communities. In 2011 there were 125 pre-school and 215 school-age children, making 41% of the population under 18; 4% of the population is over 65, with a few people as old as 85.
As a mid-size, fairly traditional community, Coral Harbour’s economy is chiefly local, focusing largely on providing goods and services to community residents. Many people still engage in subsistence hunting and fishing. Local seamstresses sell custom-made traditional and modern clothing such as boots, mitts and coats of various types. Local arts and crafts include wall-hangings, traditional Inuit dolls, and carvings in soapstone, whalebone, walrus ivory and caribou antler. Although Coral Harbour does not have the decentralized government offices that form a significant part of the economy of some Nunavut communities, seasonal employment is important for those who participate in the commercial caribou harvest, the construction industry, and local tourism. Tours with local outfitters to observe birds and marine wildlife are popular, as are trips to nearby Fossil Creek Trail Territorial Park and other local historic sites.
As in many Nunavut communities, there are no bank branches in Coral Harbour, and cash supplies can often become very limited. The Northern Store and the Co-op offer “light banking” services, which may include the ability to maintain a small cash account with the store, cash cheques for a fee, etc. There is an ATM at the Northern Store, with a limited cash supply. 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.
Coral Harbour is an area rich in marine life, as evidenced by a long history of whaling and hunting sea mammals in the area. Coates Island, which is nearby, is a resting place for colonies of walruses. Polar bears also frequent the area. Two bird sanctuaries, the East Bay Migratory Bird Sanctuary and the Harry Gibbons Migratory Bird Sanctuary, attract bird watchers. Thousands of snow geese, as well as tundra swans, sandhill cranes and other species, migrate to the area in spring. Thick-billed murres, black guillemots and gulls also nest in the vicinity. The last caribou of the island’s indigenous population was shot in the 1950s, but a new herd was reintroduced in late 1960s. For a while caribou were so numerous that a commercial hunt was used to control numbers, but the herd has decreased in recent years, and the numbers harvested are carefully controlled.
Winters are cold in Coral Harbour, with a daily average between -25.8ᵒC and -30ᵒC from December to February, and there are 208 days a year when the temperature is under -10ᵒC. In July and August, however, temperatures can be in the teens, and have been known on occasion to exceed 20ᵒC. Average precipitation in a year is 155.2 mm of rain and 133.5 cm of snow. Coral Harbour is also breezy, with an average wind speed of 18.7 km/h throughout the year. Winter blizzards are common. Current weather conditions and forecasts for Coral Harbour 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 64 degrees latitude, Coral Harbour is “north of sixty” but not quite in the land of the midnight sun. Throughout 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 a long dawn and twilight period.
According to the 2011 Census, there are 205 occupied private dwellings in Coral Harbour, including 130 single detached houses, 30 semi-detached houses, and 45 row houses. The Nunavut Economic Developers Association website indicates that almost 30% of these homes are privately owned. The remainder consists of employer-provided 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. 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 Coral Harbour.
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. Cellphone service is not currently available. Internet service is available from the local service provider (Qiniq), 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 Northern Store and Katudgevik Co-operative Store. 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 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, 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.
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 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 for food and supplies 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. The companies providing this service in Coral Harbour are Nunavut Eastern Arctic Shipping and Nunavut Sealink and Supply. See the contact list for phone numbers and websites.
Coral Harbour is served by a Health Centre (also referred to as Nursing Station) staffed by nurse practitioners. Basic medical care is provided, such as regular checkups, treatment of minor illnesses, and emergency first response. The number of nurses at the Health Centre reflects the size of the community. Coral Harbour 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 Churchill and 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 resident 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 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.
Pharmacies are located in Rankin Inlet. Although the Health Centre may supply some emergency prescriptions, 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 could be delayed by weather conditions, depending on the method by which it was sent.
A dentist visits Coral Harbour 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 Coral Harbour is routed through Rankin Inlet with First Air and Canadian North. First Air (Sakku First Aviation) flies into Coral Harbour. 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 initial relocation costs are covered by your employer, you should check prices before making personal travel plans.
The airport is several kilometres away from the Hamlet, so before arriving you should arrange with local contacts or taxi service for transportation. Please see the contact list for available taxi services. 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. However, garage services for private vehicles are limited.
The Hamlet runs an arena and, in the summer, a swimming pool, baseball diamond and outdoor basketball court. Cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and dogsledding are enjoyed in the winter months. Roads and trails around the island are used for hiking, mountain biking and exploring on ATVs in the summer months. Fishing for Arctic char also takes place in summer. Hunting and fishing regulations differ for residents who are or beneficiaries under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. Contact the local GN Wildlife Management Office for any licenses or wildlife tags you may need.
Under the Nunavut Liquor Act and Regulations, Coral Harbour is a Prohibited community. This means that no alcohol is allowed except for sacramental purposes, and importation or possession can make you subject to prosecution. Alcohol may be transported through Prohibited communities, but it must not be consumed or disposed of in these communities. 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.