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Hall Beach

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Hall Beach

Region: 
Qikiqtani School Operations (QSO)

Community

About
History: 

Inuit in today’s community of Hall Beach share the ancient and modern history of Iglulingmiut, including the visits of explorers such as William Parry, George Francis Lyon and Charles Francis Hall, after whom Hall Beach is named. Archaeological evidence of occupation of the area goes back to prehistory. The Inuktitut name, Sanirajak, means “along the coast” and refers to the general area. The actual Hamlet of Hall Beach, located approximately 69 kilometres south of Igloolik on Foxe Basin, developed around the Distant Early Warning Site (DEW Line), which was constructed in 1957. The DEW Line Station, known as FOX MAIN, was the anchor site for a series of smaller sites located throughout the Baffin Region. The site had a major radar installation and a runway capable of handling large planes, including jets, a large fuel storage facility and an associated military base. A historical map and photographs relating to the DEW Line site are posted online. Seven of the buildings are nationally designated historic sites. The site still serves as a DEW Line Station, but it is no longer a major base and resupply point.

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.

Culture: 

Hall Beach residents share the Iglulingmiut culture of their nearby neighbours in Igloolik, and join with them in traditional activities such as dog team racing. Many families in the two communities have close connections. Religion is also an important part of the community fabric. Hall Beach has two churches, St. Francis Roman Catholic and St. Silas Anglican. St. Silas is an outstation of the Igloolik parish and the priest-in-charge lives in Igloolik. You will need to contact local residents for current details about services because there is no direct phone line.

Inuktitut is the principal language of the community. In the 2011 Census, 95% of the population considered Inuktitut to be their mother tongue, and 88% used it as the first language at home. Most of the community speaks English, but nearly 18% speak neither English nor French. Only around 30% of the population uses English at home as a first or second language. 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. You should also be aware that Inuktitut dialects vary widely across Nunavut, so if you have been speaking Inuktitut in another community, be prepared to learn dialectal differences and to 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.

Hall Beach is one of the Nunavut communities with a very young population. In the 2011 Census, there were 85 pre-school and 150 school age children, making 44% of the population under 18. The median age of the community is 21.2 years, and only 2% of the population is over 65. However, there are no daycare facilities available in Hall Beach, so working families with pre-school children need to make their own child care arrangements.

Economy: 

With the scaling down of the DEW Line system in North America, the biggest outside influence on Hall Beach’s economy has shrunk considerably. The local economy now focuses largely on providing goods and services to local residents. Many people engage in subsistence hunting and fishing. Although Hall Beach does not have the decentralized Government of Nunavut offices that have stimulated the economies of some other communities, such as nearby Igloolik, tourism offers some opportunities for local outfitters. Visitors are often interested in snowmobiling, dogsledding, and cross-country skiing in winter and spring, and wildlife viewing is popular in summer months, as is visiting nearby archaeological sites. Hall Beach carvings are also well-known in the Inuit art world.

As in most Nunavut communities, there are no bank branches in Hall Beach, and cash supplies can often become very limited. The Northern Store and Co-op offer “light banking” services, which may include the ability to maintain a small cash account with the store, cash cheques, etc. There is Interac at the Northern Store, with a limited cash supply. It is highly recommended that newcomers establish Internet banking services and online methods of bill payment, particularly because postal service can often be delayed when weather disrupts transportation.

Wildlife: 

The area around Hall Beach supports a rich variety of coastal wildlife, including whales, walrus, seals, narwhals, and polar bears. The relatively flat local topography supports a large bird population during the summer season, specifically ground-nesting species such as ducks, geese, loons, plovers, snow buntings and snowy owls. Small game is present throughout the area. Arctic char and lake trout are fished in the area.

Further Reading: 
  • Bennett, John & Susan Rowley, eds. Uqalurait: an oral history of Nunavut. Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2004.
  • Dorais, Louis-Jacques. The language of the Inuit: syntax, semantics and society in the Arctic. Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2010.
  • Issenman, Betty Kobayashi. Sinews of Survival: the living legacy of Inuit clothing. Vancouver: UBC Press, 1997.
  • MacDonald, John. The Arctic sky: Inuit astronomy, star lore and legend. Iqaluit & Toronto: Nunavut Research Institute and Royal Ontario Museum, 1998.
  • McGhee, Robert. The last imaginary place: a human history of the Arctic world. Toronto: Key Porter Books, Canadian Museum of Civilization, 2004.
  • Morrison, David and Georges-Hébert Germain. Inuit: glimpses of an Arctic past. Hull: Canadian Museum of Civilization, 1995.
  • Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada. The Inuit way: a guide to Inuit culture, rev. ed. Ottawa: Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, 2006. http://www.uqar.ca/files/boreas/inuitway_e.pdf