Restricted, with an Alcohol Education Committee (October 2014)*
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No bank branches. Light banking at Northern and Co-op Stores. Interac and credit cards accepted by most retailers. Internet banking is recommended.
Telephone and Internet (limited bandwidth) services are available. Cell phone service is not currently available.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hall Beach, which is located on the eastern side of Melville Peninsula, has an Arctic coastal climate. Winters are cold, with a daily average between -27ᵒC and -33ᵒC between December and February, and 250 days a year the temperature is below 0ᵒC. In the summertime, temperatures are moderate, with an average July high of 9.4ᵒC, although temperatures can occasionally reach the teens. Average precipitation in a year is 69.6 mm of rain and 82.1 cm of snow. Hall Beach is also breezy, with an average wind speed of 20.3 km/h through the year. Given the very flat terrain of the area, blowing snow and blizzards are common in winter and early spring. Current weather conditions and forecasts for Hall Beach are posted on the Environment Canada website.
People’s tolerance for cold varies with experience, but warm winter clothing is required for several 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 68 degrees, Hall Beach is in the land of polar night and midnight sun. The amount of daylight in the winter diminishes to nothing by the end of November and it remains dark until the return of brief sunrise in mid-January. The amount of daylight increases to 24 hours a day by the middle of May, and daylight is continuous for the next three months until the last week of July.
According to the 2011 Census, Hall Beach has 120 occupied private dwellings, including 75 single detached houses, 15 semi-detached houses, and 30 row houses. The Nunavut Economic Developers Association website indicates that about 10% of these homes are privately owned. The remainder consist 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 Hall Beach.
Water and sewage services, provided by the Hamlet, are supplied by trucked service. This means that 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. There is currently no cellphone service 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, the Hall Beach Co-operative, and the Hall Beach Co-op Convenience 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 the 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 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. The shipping season is short, and orders must be placed with shipping marshalling deadlines in mind. Companies that provide this service in Hall Beach are Nunavut Eastern Arctic Shipping and Nunavut Sealift and Supply. See the contact list for phone numbers and websites.
Hall Beach is served by a Health Centre (also referred to as the Nursing Station), which is 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. Hall Beach has regular visits from community physicians, in addition to specialist and dentist visits. Regional services are provided through the Qikiqtani General Hospital in Iqaluit, with support from hospitals in Ottawa. Those requiring specialist treatment are frequently sent to Iqaluit 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, and mail the application form, along 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 Iqaluit and 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 weather conditions could delay its arrival.
Hall Beach has a dental clinic, which may be staffed by a dental therapist. A dentist visits Hall Beach 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.
Hall Beach has airline service routed through Iqaluit with First Air and Canadian North. Service from Iqaluit 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 covers your initial relocation costs, you should check prices before making personal travel plans.
Although the hotel provides an airport shuttle service, there is currently no taxi service in Hall Beach (unless one was started up recently). If you are not staying at the hotel, you should arrange with local contacts for transportation from the airport before arriving. Most people get around on snowmobiles in the winter and all-terrain vehicles in the summer.
The Hamlet operates a community hall and an arena, which usually opens in November. Some residents still maintain traditional dog teams, and snowmobiling and cross-country skiing take place in winter and early spring. Hunting and fishing are also favourite activities. 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 hunt or fish.
Each year on April 1, Hall Beach has a Hamlet Day festival featuring a community feast, traditional games and square dancing. Hamlet Day celebrates the return of continuous daylight (including twilight hours) from mid-April through mid-August.
In 1999, a group in Arctic Bay decided to hold a sled dog race to celebrate the creation of Nunavut. The race was to include only Inuit sled dogs, using the traditional Inuit qamutiq (wooden sled) and fan-style hitch. Dog team mushers from Arctic Bay, Clyde River, Pond Inlet, Igloolik and Hall Beach participated in the first race between these communities, which was called the North Baffin Quest. The race has taken place regularly since then, and in 2012 it was extensively covered by the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN). Now called the Pangaggujjiniq Nunavut Quest, this is an important event for all the communities involved and is a celebration of traditional Inuit culture.
Under the Nunavut Liquor Act and Regulations, Hall Beach 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 Hamlet councillors are elected. The committee’s mandate is to educate its community about 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, and you can also consult its website for more information about the system.