Unrestricted (import regulations apply; June 2013)*
Royal Bank of Canada branch, First Nations Bank of Canada branch, CIBC branch kiosk. Several ATMs available. Interac and credit cards are accepted at most retail outlets. Internet banking is also recommended.
Telephone and Internet (limited bandwidth) services are available. Limited cell phone service available.
Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut, is located at the end of a large bay named after Sir Martin Frobisher, who thought he had found the fabled Northwest Passage in 1576. He originally named the bay “Frobisher’s Straites” (in the spelling of that day), and for many years the community was also known as Frobisher Bay. Inuit have lived in the area for thousands of years, moving in and out with the “wildlife seasons.” Iqaluit, or “a place of fish” in Inuktitut, refers to the seasonal fishing that took place on the Sylvia Grinnell River when Arctic char were running. Like many areas of Nunavut during the late 18th and 19th centuries, Frobisher Bay saw different whaling operations participating in the hunt, mainly from bases near the mouth of the bay where it joins Davis Strait. In 1861, as part of the search for John Franklin, Charles Francis Hall, with the assistance of his Inuit guides, travelled as far as what is now the site of Iqaluit. Initially, Kimmirut was the administrative centre for the south Baffin area, with representatives of the Anglican Church and the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) travelling out to camps in the vicinity. In 1914, the HBC opened a trading post at Ward Inlet, located approximately 65 kilometres southeast of Iqaluit. This post was moved in 1950 to the predominantly Inuit community of Apex (now part of the City of Iqaluit). The RCMP established a presence in the area in 1920.
Although a number of Inuit camps were located around Frobisher Bay, the site of the current community reflects the U.S. Air Force’s decision to construct an air strip in 1942 as part of the northern route to Europe during the Second World War. The military base was active during this period and then found new life in the 1950s as a DEW Line (Distant Early Warning) site during the Cold War. Inuit began migrating to the community, using materials disposed of by the military to build shacks, or small, multi-use buildings on the shores of Koojesse Inlet. (The term “shack” was used to describe these structures and is still used today without the negative connotation often associated with the word). The U.S. Air Force was present until 1963. The first community council for Frobisher Bay was elected in 1964. Frobisher Bay was officially recognized as a settlement in 1970, a village (Hamlet) in 1974, and a town in 1980. In 1987 the community reverted to its original Inuktitut name of Iqaluit. As a result of the signing of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement in 1993, which created the new territory of Nunavut in principle, a plebiscite to choose the capital of the new territory was held in 1995, and Iqaluit was selected. Nunavut came into being in 1999, and in 2001, Iqaluit officially became a capital city. Although traditional land activities are still very much a part of life in Iqaluit, the city functions as a major transportation and communications hub, and as the primary administrative centre for the territory of Nunavut. As a result, the population has grown rapidly, with many newcomers arriving from other areas of Nunavut, the rest of Canada and other countries, and the city has seen the development of infrastructure and services in line with its growing community.
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
With its mix of long-time local residents, both Inuit and qallunaat (non-Inuit), and newcomers from elsewhere in Nunavut, Canada, and the rest of the world, Iqaluit has a lively cultural and social life. It is more cosmopolitan and less “traditional” than many of the other Nunavut communities, but strong value is still placed on traditional Inuit culture, which is celebrated at Toonik Tyme (the annual spring festival), at territorial and national holiday celebrations, and community feasts and events, such as fashion shows featuring fur haute couture and Christmas square dances at the Anglican Parish Hall. The Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum has many excellent displays and frequently hosts annual exhibitions of print collections from art centres, such as Cape Dorset and Pangnirtung. For several years Iqaluit has hosted Alianait, a multicultural music and arts festival that showcases both local talent and circumpolar and other international artists. Iqaluit has bars, restaurants, private and service clubs, and its branch of the Royal Canadian Legion is one of the busiest in the country, frequently featuring live music. As the territorial capital and an exotic stop on many artists’ schedules, Iqalummiut (residents of Iqaluit) have had the chance to see many Canadian and international stars, ranging from the Barenaked Ladies and Blue Rodeo in their early days, to the White Stripes and the National Arts Centre Orchestra on recent northern tours.
Iqaluit also has a wide variety of religious and spiritual communities, in keeping with its diverse population. There are several Christian churches. The best-known is the iconic igloo-shaped St. Jude’s Anglican Cathedral, which is the Anglican cathedral church for the eastern Arctic. Local Inuit built the original church in the early 1970s, on a site where the sod had been turned by Queen Elizabeth on a visit to what was then Frobisher Bay. Decorated with many unique works of art, such as a cross made of narwhal tusks, and duffle wall-hangings contributed by seamstresses from communities across the Arctic, the church was destroyed by arson in 2005. A larger and more modern version of the church was built with the assistance of a national fund-raising campaign, and was re-dedicated and opened for service in 2012. Many photographs of Iqaluit still feature the old church building. St. Simon’s Church in Apex is the original Anglican church of the area and is a classic example of the tiny churches built throughout the Arctic in the early days of the Anglican missions. The Anglican Parish Hall in Iqaluit is the centre of many of the Inuit community’s celebrations, such as Christmas games and dances. The Roman Catholic church of Our Lady of the Assumption celebrated the 50th anniversary of the founding of its parish in 2009. It has a well-used parish hall. Iqaluit also has a Pentecostal church and a congregation of Northern Lights Ministries.
In addition, Iqaluit is home to a Baha’ï community and its Baha’ï House, a small Muslim community (building of a mosque is currently in development), and a Soto Zen meditation group, as well as adherents to traditional Inuit shamanism.
Of all the communities in Nunavut, Iqaluit has the greatest language diversity. Its function as Nunavut’s capital means that people have moved there to work from all over Nunavut and Canada. You will hear English, Inuit languages and French spoken on the street, and find signage and documents in English, Inuktitut, and French, and often Inuinnaqtun as well. In the 2011 Census, 45% of the population declared its mother tongue to be English, 5% French, 46% Inuktitut, and 4% other non-Aboriginal languages, such as Tagalog, Hindi and German. English is the most commonly heard language, as it is the first language at home for about 68% of the population, and it is spoken by 98% of the population. Inuktitut is spoken as either a first or second language at home by 49% of the population. Iqaluit is also a multilingual city – 50% of those surveyed said that they regularly use more than one language in the home. Direct air connections between Iqaluit, Ottawa and Montréal contribute to Iqaluit being the centre of Nunavut’s Francophone population. It is the home of the Territory’s only French-language school, l’École des Trois Soleils, and it also has a French radio station. L’Association des francophones du Nunavut (AFN) owns the Francophone Centre based in Iqaluit, and organizes many events for its community that are also open to anyone who enjoys French Canadian culture. Most public meetings are multilingual affairs, conducted in English and Inuktitut, and often French as well. 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.
Iqaluit has the oldest population of any Nunavut community, even though it is still young by general Canadian standards. The 2011 Census counted 615 pre-school and 1310 school-age children, making 29% of the population under 18, substantially lower than the 40-45% of many other Nunavut communities. The median age of city dwellers is 30.1 and only 3% of the population is over 65.
The economy of Iqaluit reflects the fact that it is the largest community in Nunavut, the capital city, and a major transportation hub for the eastern Arctic. In addition to large numbers of federal and territorial government jobs, Iqaluit also hosts a wide variety of organizations that serve the territory in general or its Inuit population specifically. These include the Nunavut Courts of Justice, the Qikiqtani General Hospital, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI), institutions of public government under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, such as the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board, regional Inuit organizations, various offices of national bodies such as the World Wildlife Fund, and the largest campus of Nunavut Arctic College, to name but a few. As a major transportation hub, Iqaluit anchors the major airlines and charter services, and is a primary offloading site for sealift. Not only do jet flights link with smaller aircraft going onward to communities, but the international airport sees increased traffic from overseas during the warmer months, some specifically using the Canadian Customs point as their entry into Canada. The Canadian military uses the airport as a Forward Operating Location, and international manufacturers use it as an aircraft cold-weather testing site. Many businesses have grown over the years to support the major employers and, as a result, Iqaluit hosts a wide range and number of independent businesses, shops, hotels, restaurants and entertainment facilities.
Although administration and transportation form the major part of the economy, mineral exploration in the area has identified several significant opportunities for mine development. Transportation and accessibility also make Iqaluit one of the more frequently visited tourist destinations, and one of the major nodes for the growing Arctic cruising industry. Arts and crafts are a major contributor to the economy. Iqaluit enjoys a population size and volume of visitor traffic that together provides a market that is not available in smaller communities. As a result, local galleries act as agents not only for local artists, but also artists in smaller communities, often holding exhibitions of print collections from print shops outside of Iqaluit. Many Iqaluit residents still participate in the traditional economy to contribute to their family’s food basket and participate in food-sharing networks.
The city is also a central location for banking and financial services and currently supports a number of major banks and funding agencies. However, many people also make use of Internet banking services and online methods of bill payment, particularly because the postal service can often be delayed when bad weather disrupts transportation. Credit cards and Interac are widely accepted, and there are several ATM cash points in the city (e.g., at the airport and in the Astro Hill complex).
The variety and location of wildlife around Iqaluit varies with the season. Given its location at the head of Frobisher Bay, Iqaluit’s access to marine wildlife during the winter is limited to those areas along the floe edge and into Davis Strait. The floe edge moves throughout the winter, depending on temperatures, winds, and the influence of the local tide, which is over 30 feet. At various times there are harp, ring and bearded seals, walrus, beluga, narwhal, other whales, and polar bear. Arctic char are present in many rivers, and cod can be found on the south side of the bay. The ever-present ravens over-winter, and are joined by a wide variety of marine and inland birds during the summer season. This includes gulls, falcons and other raptors, song birds, geese, ducks and large flocks of snow buntings. Recently, there have been several sightings of the common robin during the summer, which some see as an indicator of climate change. Caribou migrate around the community, and are currently usually found a fair distance out, requiring a significant investment of time and resources for hunting. Other terrestrial mammals are also present, including lemmings, Arctic hares, foxes and wolves.
Iqaluit, on Koojesse Inlet of Frobisher Bay on southern Baffin Island, has an Arctic coastal climate. Winters are fairly cold, with a daily average between -26ᵒC and -28ᵒC from December to February, and for 215 days a year the temperature is below 0ᵒC. In the summertime, temperatures are moderate, with an average high in July of 11.6ᵒC, although temperatures can be in the higher teens and occasionally reach over 20ᵒC. Average precipitation in a year is 198.3 mm of rain and 235.8 cm of snow, with periods of rain common after the sea ice melts in the summer. The sea ice usually breaks up in early July and freezes again in December, although ice-freezing patterns have been less reliable in recent years. Iqaluit is also steadily breezy, with an average wind speed of 15 km/h through the year. Wind chills in the -40ᵒC to -60ᵒC range are common in winter, and blizzards will on occasion shut down the city due to low visibility and drifting snow. Current weather conditions and forecasts for Iqaluit 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 the selection of commercial winter clothing and footwear in the local stores are available, but may be limited.
At 63 degrees latitude, Iqaluit is “north of sixty” but not quite in the land of the midnight sun. Through 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.
Iqaluit has the widest variety of housing types in Nunavut, including six- and eight-storey high-rise apartment buildings in the centre of the city. Construction of new dwellings is ongoing to meet the need for housing as the city grows. According to the 2011 Census, of the 2365 private dwellings counted, there were 675 single detached homes, 155 apartment buildings of five or more storeys, 740 apartment buildings under five storeys, 20 duplex apartments, 195 semi-detached houses, and 585 row houses. A significant number of people in Iqaluit own their own homes – nearly a quarter of residential dwellings, according to the Nunavut Economic Developers Association. Some may have done so for more than 20 years, and in some cases, home ownership may have passed on to a second or third generation. Homes are regularly put up for sale, and if you are interested in purchasing a home, there is a Nunavut-wide home buying program that may provide financial assistance if you meet the funding criteria. Iqaluit is also the only community with a substantial free rental market. Although many employers provide subsidized housing, housing is not necessarily provided with a job in Iqaluit and the waiting list for government housing is prioritized, with essential services personnel at the top. You should ask your employer about the housing provisions of your employment and its cost. 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. Iqaluit is currently the only community in Nunavut with a resident veterinarian.
Depending on the area of Iqaluit in which you live, municipal services for water and sewage may be provided either by “utilidor,” a system of utility pipes designed to deal with Arctic permafrost conditions, or trucked service. Contact the City’s Public Works department for details. If you are on trucked service, you will have water and sewage tanks in the home, which are filled up and pumped out respectively on a regular schedule. People on trucked service need to be somewhat conscious of their level of water consumption, as supplementary fees may be charged if you require a special fill-up or pump-out. The City also provides garbage pick-up service. Most homes are heated with oil furnaces and Uqsuq Corporation 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. Limited cell phone service is available, from some service providers only. If you are a cell phone user, check to see whether 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 Iqaluit Cable TV and direct-to-home satellite TV by Bell Canada TV.
Local items, perishables and consumer goods are available from a number of stores. There is a large NorthMart Store with several convenience store outlets in other locations. Tim Horton’s first franchise in Nunavut is located in the NorthMart, along with its Quick Stop outlets. Arctic Ventures, a local shopping institution for food and dry goods, was purchased by Arctic Co-operatives in 2012 and is now known as The Marketplace. Baffin Island Canners is another local favourite for grocery shopping. Fresh staples, such as milk, bread, produce and meat are normally stocked throughout the year in the stores together with canned, frozen and dry goods, although shortages can occur if airfreight is delayed by bad weather. Store managers can sometimes order special items if they are requested. Commercially processed “country food” (wildlife hunted for food), such as caribou, fish or seal, is occasionally, but it is not always stocked in these stores. It may be available from Iqaluit Enterprises as supplies permit. However, if you are interested, you can also sample these delicious and nutritious foods at community feasts and may occasionally be able to obtain them from local hunters. Iqaluit also has a number of restaurants, mostly located in hotels, and fast food outlets.
Many shops and galleries provide access to local arts and crafts. There is also a wider range of consumer goods available in Iqaluit than in most Nunavut communities, including electronics and home furnishings. Although prices often seem higher because shipping costs are incorporated into shelf sticker prices, it is important to factor in the source tax and the cost of shipping items bought elsewhere. You may find that buying products in Iqaluit is not markedly more expensive, given that there is no territorial sales tax or HST applied. See the contact list for business names and phone numbers. Alternative ways to shop include the Piviniit Thrift Shop, which is run by volunteers; yard sales, which are common on weekends; and the very popular Iqaluit Sell/Swap Facebook page, which requires moderator permission to join.
Food and supplies in Nunavut are generally expensive because of the added cost of shipping items north, even with 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. Iqaluit normally has a larger selection of fresh goods than most Nunavut communities thanks to its daily air service, but given the size of the city, a few days of bad weather can significantly deplete stores. 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. Free shipping from Internet-based suppliers often becomes an important consideration. 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 that are not available in the community, including “country food” from other Nunavut communities.
Bulk supplies, large or heavy items (e.g., vehicles, furniture, appliances) and building supplies are usually brought in by annual sealift during the summer and early fall shipping season, and orders must be placed with shipping marshalling deadlines in mind. Iqaluit normally has several sealift deliveries in the course of a shipping season. Companies that provide shipping services in Iqaluit are Nunavut Eastern Arctic Shipping and Nunavut Sealift and Supply. See the contact list for phone numbers and websites.
Iqaluit is the location of Nunavut’s only hospital, the 35-bed Qiqiktani General Hospital. A new building was constructed in 2007, which is connected to the old Baffin Regional Hospital, and now houses outpatient service for regular checkups, the treatment of minor illnesses, clinics and other services. Providing diagnostic imaging and laboratory facilities and a new emergency room, operating room, birthing rooms and facilities for day surgery, the new hospital serves as the Qikiqtani regional centre for medical care, and occasionally treats patients from other regions as well. Iqaluit is the birthing centre for the Qikiqtani region, and has a medical boarding home for patients who are flown in for treatment from other communities.
Iqaluit also has a Public Health Clinic, which takes appointments for people to see doctors and nurse practitioners. This clinic is also responsible for pre-natal care, well-woman clinics, and other health services, such as nutrition education, vaccinations and checkups for Iqaluit residents.
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 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 Public Health and Qikiqtani General Hospital. 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.
Independent pharmacies are located in Iqaluit, in addition to the hospital pharmacy, which may supply some emergency prescriptions, but is intended primarily for hospital use. An optical team also visits on a rotational schedule, checking eyes and issuing prescriptions. Check with the hospital for the availability of these services. Eyeglasses can be obtained from Baffin Optical. Iqaluit also has two dental clinics, which are staffed by dentists and dental hygienists.
You can check online for more information about Nunavut’s health system.
Iqaluit is one of Nunavut’s major transportation hubs. It receives daily jet service originating in Ottawa from both Canadian North and First Air. Both airlines also provide service several times a week from Yellowknife with a stop in Rankin Inlet. In addition, First Air has a flight from Montréal that stops in Kuujjuaq, Québec, along the way. Connections can be made to Edmonton from Yellowknife, and to Winnipeg and Churchill from Rankin Inlet. Iqaluit serves as the centre for most Qikiqtani region air traffic. Iqaluit Airport is an international airport with a customs office, and handles occasional international flights on the polar air route that stop in Iqaluit as their first entry into Canada, as well as flights between Iqaluit and Greenland. 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. It is highly advised to also check the local airline schedules for any current changes.
Some Iqaluit hotels provide an airport shuttle bus service, although you may wish to confirm this in advance with the hotel at which you are staying. There are several taxicab companies in Iqaluit, which provide service for a flat fee per person. A supplementary fee may be charged for extra luggage at the discretion of the driver. You should be aware that the taxis serve as Iqaluit’s public transport. Cabs will frequently collect more than one set of passengers at a time, or stop to pick up additional passengers, and then drop them off in the order that appears most efficient to them. So you should be prepared to share “your” cab with others. Vehicle rentals are available in Iqaluit as well. See the contact list for phone numbers.
A large proportion of Iqaluit residents now operate private vehicles, which are usually brought up on the summer sealift, although there is a local market for used vehicles as well. There are garages for servicing vehicles, but costs are higher than in southern Canada. Fuel pumps are operated by the Iqaluit Gas Bar, Baffin Gas Bar, and NorthMart Apex Road QuickStop. See the contact list for phone numbers. Vehicles generally need block heaters to keep them running throughout the winter months, which can substantially increase your electricity consumption. Many local residents also use snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) to get around or for recreation outside the city limits. People who wish to go boating either own their own motorboats, which must be capable of handling ocean conditions, or use the services of a local outfitter. As mooring facilities are rudimentary and tides are extremely high and low, many boat owners keep their boats on trailers at home when not in use.
Iqaluit provides a wide range of recreational opportunities, from artistic and athletic to social pursuits. The City’s Recreation Department is responsible for managing several different facilities and providing information about City events. It publishes an annual recreation guide and keeps copies of it and up-to-date information about recreational events and schedules on its website. The City runs two arenas, the Arnaitok Arena in the building shared by the City offices, and the Arctic Winter Games Arena. School gymnasiums are also used to host many events and for extracurricular activities. The City’s aging swimming pool was closed in late 2012 and fundraising is underway for a new pool and recreational facility. There is also a private squash club, which requires the purchase of a membership. It is part of a complex that includes the public curling rink. The Atii Fitness Centre, which is located near the airport, is a non-profit volunteer operated facility with paid memberships.
Every fall the Recreation Department holds a sign-up day for clubs and volunteer groups, called “Mass Registration,” at which you can discover who is running programs that might be of interest to you. Recreational clubs may have a limited lifespan, depending on the interests of participants and the availability of enthusiastic organizers, but over the years, many different types of activities have been organized. A number of sports are solidly entrenched, including badminton, basketball, volleyball and indoor soccer, which may, from time to time, include inter-community tournaments. Hockey is extremely popular for all ages, including an adult league sponsored by local businesses. Curling has become well-established. Martial arts have included karate, tai chi, judo and tae kwon do. Gymnastics and dance programs have also been run. Local arts groups have included community choirs, orchestras and musicals.
Iqaluit Centennial Library, the public library located in the Unikkaarvik Visitors Centre building, runs many programs for all ages, chiefly in English but also some in Inuktitut and French. These include story times, holiday-themed events, book talks, film screenings, and more. They also offer a public Internet access site with public computers and free wi-fi. Contact the library for current hours and programs.
For those interested in community service clubs, there is an active branch of the Royal Canadian Legion with its Ladies Auxiliary, a Rotary International club, and a Lodge of the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks (BPO Elks) and its ladies auxiliary, the Royal Purple. The Legion and the Elks both run licensed premises, with sign-in rules for guests. In addition to regular club activities, these groups are very active in fundraising for the community. The Legion also has a hall for its squadron of Air Cadets, a program that is well-attended by a number of Iqaluit youth.
Apart from organized recreational activities, many people hunt and fish in the area around Iqaluit. As well, many residents have habitual camping spots near town or cabins connected to traditional family locations down the Bay. Clam digging is also a favourite summer activity. Hunting and fishing regulations differ for residents who are beneficiaries under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. Contact the local GN Wildlife Management Office for licenses or wildlife tags if you plan to participate in local hunting and fishing activities. Other activities that take people out “on the land” include snowmobiling and ATV riding. Weekend snowmobile drag races on the sea ice have become popular with local speed enthusiasts. Young people get together to go snowboarding at Tarr Inlet or across the Bay, using their snowmobiles as their “ski lift.” Boating is also popular in the summer but requires a substantial investment in equipment and an excellent knowledge of local conditions, as the tide on Frobisher Bay is extremely high, one of the three highest in Canada.
The City’s Recreation Department organizes many community events throughout the year, from national events such as Canada Day and the Terry Fox Run, to events that are unique to Iqaluit, such as Toonik Tyme and Christmas Games. Volunteer assistance with these events is always welcomed. Toonik Tyme, Iqaluit’s spring festival, usually occurs in late April, and includes traditional games and contests, such as bannock-making and seal hunting, as well as the popular racing events, such as the dog team race, the uphill snowmobile climb, and the long-distance snowmobile race from Iqaluit to Kimmirut and back. A week of traditional games and square dances usually helps to while away the short winter days between Christmas and New Year. The Alianait music and arts festival, which has run annually since 2005, is organized by an independent board and usually takes place in early summer.
Under the current Nunavut Liquor Act, Iqaluit 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 or brought in through a liquor permit system for personal home use. Although there is a liquor warehouse in Iqaluit that supplies licensed premises or those purchasing for a special occasion license, there is currently no liquor store where the general public can purchase liquor directly for home consumption. This may change as public consultations have been taking place to discuss whether Iqaluit will set-up a beer and wine store. There are also several licensed dining establishments and private club premises in Iqaluit, and on occasion service groups may obtain special occasion licenses for community events. 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 on the system.