Restricted, with an Alcohol Education Committee (October 2014)*
Click here for an update
First Nations Bank of Canada has a Kiosk located in the Co-Op Store. There is an ATM at the Northern Store. Light banking service is available by the Co-Op and the Northern Store. Interac and credit cards are accepted. Internet banking is recommended.
Telephone and Internet (limited bandwidth) services are available. A limited cell phone service is available.
Located at the eastern entrance to the Northwest Passage, Pond Inlet was given its English name by explorer John Ross in 1818, who originally called it Pond’s Bay after John Pond, the British Astronomer Royal of the day. Archaeological evidence shows occupation of the area from Dorset times, with Inuit travelling throughout the region to harvest wildlife according the seasons. In Inuktitut, the location is known as Mittimatalik, although there is some local debate about the meaning of the name. Given the joining of Lancaster Sound and Baffin Bay, and the presence of permanently open water areas in the winter time (polynyas), the area around Pond Inlet was a major whaling centre up to the early 1900s, when up to 70 ships a year hunted whales there. The richness of wildlife in the area also supported the establishment of trading posts by Captain James Mutch (1903) and Robert Kinnes, who was bought out by Captain Joseph Bernier (1910) after his service with the Canadian government and his voyage through the Northwest Passage. Bernier sold his interests to trader Henry Toke Munn in 1918, who ran the post until 1921, the same year that the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) established a post at the location of the current community. The RCMP established a post adjacent to the HBC in 1922, which was followed by the Anglican and Catholic Church missions in 1929. Inuit started to move off the land in the 1960s when the federal government constructed a school and hostel for students in 196 and started to provide housing. Air service also began in the 1960s, first on airstrips built on the sea ice, and then using an airstrip on the land. The 1970s saw growing interest in the area with the exploration for oil and gas and associated research, much of it through the Arctic Research Establishment. Pond Inlet attained Hamlet status on April 1, 1975. The community continues to grow, partly as a result of hosting decentralized government offices in 1999 for the new territory of Nunavut, and partly because of mineral exploration and the recent approval of the nearby Baffinland Iron Mine Corporation mine.
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.
As a place with a long history of Inuit occupation and European contact, and ongoing economic development, Pond Inlet’s community life mixes traditional Inuit culture with new developments in technology and global culture. People maintain dog teams and engage in traditional hunting and fishing while using the Internet and cable TV and meeting scientists and tourists from all over the world. The Natinnak Visitors Centre in Pond Inlet houses interpretive displays describing the culture and history of the area’s Inuit and the community. Natinnak also houses gatherings of the community’s Elders, and is the site of the Pond Inlet Archives, which has an active program of collecting historic photographs and conducting oral history research to identify those in the photographs. The Pond Inlet Library and Archives Society supports both the Archives and the development of an extensive collection of historical publications about the Arctic, housed in the Rebecca P. Idlout Public Library space.
As in most Qikiqtani region communities, Inuktitut is the predominant language in Pond Inlet. In the 2011 Census, 91% of the population claimed Inuktitut as its mother tongue, and 89% uses it as their first language at home, with 2% using it as a second language. Although there are a few French speakers in Pond, English is the most commonly used second language for 81% of the population. About 25% of Pond Inlet residents speak English as a first or second language at home. A significant part of the population (18%), does not speak either English or French, which means that newcomers or visitors may sometimes need to find an English speaker who is willing to translate for them. 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. 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.
There are two churches in Pond Inlet, St. Timothy’s Anglican Church and Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church. Pond Inlet was for many years the home of Father Guy-Mary-Rousselière o.m.i., a priest of the Oblates who was also a noted anthropologist and archaeologist. “Father Mary” died in a house fire in 1994, but many of his papers documenting Inuit culture and archaeology are housed in the Pond Inlet Archives.
Pond Inlet, like most Nunavut communities, has a young population. In the 2011 Census, there were 220 pre-school and 420 school-age children, making 41% of the community under 18. The median age is 22.5, and only 3% of the population is over 65.
Pond Inlet has a relatively diversified economy, which includes federal and territorial office positions, the local service economy, the culture and tourism industry, and the stimulus of being a transportation and hiring hub for nearby iron ore mining development. Decentralized offices for the Government of Nunavut include a number of positions with Community and Government Services, the Department of Education’s Qikiqtani School Operations office, overseeing the region’s schools, and community economic development for the Department of Economic Development and Transportation. The Mary River iron ore development project has also had an impact on the local economy, with Pond Inlet serving as a transportation link and some residents employed in the mine development.
Pond Inlet is also the gateway for Sirmilik National Park, and is frequently visited in open-water months by high Arctic cruise ships. Local outfitters provide transportation and guiding services for visitors to the Park and to the Bylot Island bird sanctuary nearby. Arctic science researchers often use Pond Inlet as a base or jumping-off spot. The local arts and crafts scene includes noted carvers. The local service economy provides wage employment for many. However, traditional subsistence hunting and fishing are also important to the local economy as many families depend on these activities to supplement their diets, given the extremely high cost of food in the high Arctic.
There are no bank branches in Pond Inlet and cash supplies can often become very limited. The Co-op and Northern Store offer “light banking” services, which may include the ability to maintain a small cash account with the store, cash cheques, etc. An ATM is available 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.
The richness of wildlife around Pond Inlet has long made it a destination of choice for activities associated with wildlife, including hunting and whaling, or in more recent times, wildlife observation. The community is located at the entry to Lancaster Sound and its geography supports differing wildlife throughout the year. Polynyas (permanently open water in the winter) and moving ice that offers large cracks support plentiful marine life, including narwhals, seals, whales, walrus, Arctic char, and polar bears. Caribou can be found inland as well as small game, such as wolves, foxes, and lemming. Bird species abound and Bylot Island, located directly across from the community, hosts a Migratory Bird Sanctuary and National Park. The area not only supports cliff-dwelling marine birds, such as murres, kittiwakes, gyrfalcons, and gulls, but also large communities of snow geese, and smaller song birds that have migrated with the sun.
Pond Inlet, although located on a northerly point of Baffin Island, enjoys a fairly stable climate because of its sheltered location. Winters are cold, with a daily average between -28ᵒC and -34ᵒC from December to February, and days reaching a daily maximum above freezing only from June to August. The temperature rarely exceeds 10ᵒC. The area is considered to be polar desert: average precipitation in a year is 85.4 mm of rain and 144.3 cm of snow. Current weather conditions and forecasts for Pond Inlet 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 72 degrees latitude, Pond Inlet is in the land of polar night and midnight sun. The amount of daylight in the winter diminishes to nothing by mid-November and it remains dark for about two and a half months, until the end of January. The amount of daylight increases to 24 hours a day by the first week of May, and the sun remains above the horizon until early August.
According to the 2011 Census, Pond Inlet has 345 occupied private dwellings, including 220 single detached houses, 40 semi-detached houses, and 85 row houses. The Nunavut Economic Developers Association indicates that about 18% of these homes are privately owned. The remainder is made up of employer-supplied 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 Pond Inlet.
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 because supplementary fees may be charged if you require a special fill-up or pump-out. The Hamlet also provides a 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. Limited cell phone service is available, from some service providers only. If you are a cell phone user, check to see if your current provider includes Nunavut in its coverage. Internet service is available from the local service providers (Qiniq, NorthwesTel 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.
Local shopping and perishables are available from the Northern Store and the Tununiq Sauniq Co-operative. A coffee shop is also housed in Pond Inlet’s Co-op “Mall”. Local arts and crafts can be purchased from the Natinnak Visitors Centre and at the main Co-op store. If you would like to eat out, the Sauniq Hotel restaurant will serve meals to people who are not hotel guests, but reservations should be made ahead of time. See the contact list for phone numbers.
Basic fresh staples, such as milk, bread, and some fresh produce, together with canned and dry goods, are normally stocked throughout the year in the stores, although shortages can occur if airfreight is delayed by poor weather. Store managers can sometimes order special items if they are requested. “Country 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. In the High Arctic, average prices tend to be higher than most average northern communities (that lies closer to the south), although many employers such as the Government of Nunavut does provide a cost-of-living allowances to off-set these higher cost. 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. 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 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 that are not available in the community, including “country food” from other Nunavut communities.
Bulk supplies, large or heavy items (e.g., vehicles, furniture) and building supplies are usually brought in by annual sealift during the short shipping season, and orders must be placed with shipping marshalling deadlines in mind. Companies that provide this service in Pond Inlet are Nunavut Eastern Arctic Shipping and Nunavut Sealift and Supply. See the contact list for phone numbers and websites.
Pond Inlet is served by a Health Centre (also referred to as the Nursing Station), which is staffed by registered nurses and a nurse practitioner. Basic medical care is provided, such as regular checkups, the treatment of minor illnesses, and emergency first response. The number of medical staff at the Health Centre reflects the size of the community. Regional services are provided through the Qikiqtani General Hospital in Iqaluit, with support from hospitals in Ottawa. Pond Inlet has regular visits from community physicians, in addition to specialist and dentist visits. 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 a minimum one-year work contract, before you are eligible. You can download and complete the online Nunavut health card application form, and then mail the application completed form 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 Iqaluit. Although the Health Centre may supply some emergency prescriptions, the supplies on hand are limited. If you have a medical condition that requires 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 it could be delayed by poor weather conditions.
A dentist visits Pond Inlet 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.
Pond Inlet has airline service with First Air and Canadian North, which is routed through Iqaluit. Service from Iqaluit is usually provided most days a week, but 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.
The Sauniq Hotel provides a shuttle bus service from the airport to the hotel. There is currently no general taxi service (unless one was started recently) in Pond Inlet, so if you are not staying at the hotel, you should arrange transportation with local contacts before arriving. 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. Vehicle maintenance services are limited, however.
The Hamlet operates an arena and a community hall. Ice sports, especially hockey, are very popular. Children enjoy basketball and indoor soccer. People will get out on the land by snowmobile or dog team in winter and early spring. If a passing iceberg gets frozen into the inlet, people will often drive out to collect shards of ice to melt for the best tea water. In the summer, people try to spend as much time “on the land” as possible. Hiking, camping, fishing, birdwatching and berry-picking are all favourite activities, as are boating and sea kayaking. 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 wish to participate in local hunting and fishing activities.
The Rebecca P. Idlout Library, a public library, is located in the Natinnak Visitors Centre. Contact the library for current hours and information on special programs. The Pond Inlet Archives is also located in the Visitors Centre.
The Hamlet’s Recreation Committee runs traditional community activities for recurring events, such as Easter games, Christmas activities, Hamlet Day and Canada Day. It may also plan extra events and special community days as events warrant
In 1999, a group in Arctic Bay decided to hold a sled dog race to celebrate the creation of Nunavut. Only Inuit sled dogs, using the traditional Inuit qamutiq (wooden sled) and fan-style hitch, were to be used in the race. 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. It has taken place regularly since then, and in 2012 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 a celebration of traditional Inuit culture.
Under the Nunavut Liquor Act and Regulations, Pond Inlet 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 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. You can [consult its website for more information on the system](http://www.gov.nu.ca/finance/information/liquor-enforcement-and-inspections).