Restricted, with an Alcohol Education Committee (October 2014)*
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There are no bank branches. There is an ATM at Northern Store. Light banking is available at the Northern Store and Co-op. Interac and credit card services are available at most retail stores. Internet banking is recommended.
Telephone and Internet (limited bandwidth) service is available. Cell phone service is currently not available.
Inuit have lived in the vicinity of Naujaat since the Thule people. The Inuktitut name, Naujaat, means “the nesting place of sea gulls,” referring to a nearby seagull nesting cliff. Like other Inuit groups in historic times, Inuit travelled widely throughout the region. There is evidence of travel between Naujaat (formally known as Repulse Bay until July 2, 2015) and the Amitturmiut (Igloolik-Hall Beach) area on the Melville Peninsula. The first recorded contact with Europeans was in 1742, when Christopher Middleton surveyed Hudson Bay in the process of looking for the Northwest Passage. There is some debate about whether the name Repulse can be attributed to Middleton or to a British ship of the same name. During the whaling period of the 1800s, both American and European whalers used Naujaat as a base and employed Inuit to help with the hunt of predominantly bowhead whales. Many whaling parties chose to spend the winter in the area on the Harbour Islands, which enabled them to begin their season before the full break-up of Hudson Bay. These islands provided a protected harbour, thereby reducing the chance of ice damage to the hulls of vessels.
During the latter part of the 19th century, the Hudson Bay Company (HBC) sent representatives into the area, including the explorer John Rae, who found traces of the lost Franklin expedition and returned these to Britain. The HBC opened a post in 1916, followed by Revillon Frères in 1923, who had been establishing competing posts at various locations. The Catholic Church established a mission in 1932. A school and public housing followed in the 1960s, giving rise to today’s 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.
Life in Naujaat reflects that of most small Inuit communities today, where modern telecommunications and technology, such as televisions, the Internet and high-performance snowmobiles, coexist with traditional hunting and fishing. Residents maintain traditional skills, such as sewing clothing in both modern and traditional materials, keeping dog teams, and using the outdoors as a walk-out freezer for a good part of the year.
There are three churches in Naujaat: St. Stephen’s Anglican Church, Our Lady of the Snows Roman Catholic Church, and a Glad Tidings church.
Inuktitut is the predominant language in Naujaat. In the 2011 Census, 94% of the population regarded Inuktitut as their mother tongue, 86% use it as their first language at home, and 6% use it as a second language. About 10% of the population does not speak either English or French, which means that on occasion newcomers or visitors need to find someone who speaks English to translate for them, particularly when communicating with Inuit Elders. Although there are a few people who are able to speak French in Naujaat, English is the most commonly used second language after Inuktitut and it is spoken by 89% of the residents. English is also used as a second language in the home by 55%. 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.
In a territory bursting with young people, Naujaat is one of the youngest communities. The 2011 Census counted 175 pre-school and 295 school-age children, making 50% of the population under age 18. The median age of the community is 18.2, and only 2% of the population is over 65.
Given that it is a small community where half the population is still school-age, much of the economy of Naujaat is focused on providing goods and services to the local population. Some mining exploration takes place in the region, which provides an outside stimulus. Tourism is also an important source of seasonal employment. Naujaat is an entry point for Ukkusiksalik National Park and the surrounding Wager Bay, which is about 145 km from the community. The trip takes 15 minutes by plane, or it can be reached by boat, snowmobile or dogsled, depending on the season. Whale-watching tours and other wildlife viewing expeditions are also provided by local outfitters and guides, especially during the open water months.
As in many Nunavut communities, there are no bank branches in Naujaat, 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 for a service fee, etc. The Northern Store houses an ATM, and the Co-op allows cash withdrawals through Interac, cash supply permitting. 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.
Naujaat, “the nesting place of sea gulls,” hosts a wide variety of birds during the summer season, including snow buntings, loons, eider ducks, snowy owls, jaegers, terns, tundra swans, and raptors, such as peregrine falcons, gyrfalcons, and rough legged hawks, among others. Whales are abundant in the area, including narwhal, beluga, bowhead and orca (killer) whales. Other marine species include ringed, bearded and harp seals, polar bears and walrus. Land animals include caribou, Arctic hares, wolves, arctic fox and small game.
Naujaat has cool summers and cold winters. The average temperature in July is 8.6ᵒC.The coldest month is February, with an average temperature of -31.7ᵒC. The average annual precipitation is 17.8 mm of rainfall and 13.5 cm of snowfall. Naujaat is windy, with an average wind speed of 19.6 km/hr, and blizzards with high winds and low visibility are common in the winter. Current weather conditions and forecasts for Naujaat 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 66 degrees latitude, Naujaat is located right on the Arctic Circle, which is marked by a stone arch in the Hamlet. This means that there should be one day of the year when the sun does not rise, and another day when it does not set. In actual fact, the sun does rise very briefly and very low on the horizon through the winter, with long dawn and twilight periods, and in the summer the sun does not actually set from early June to early July. The rest of the summer, the sun skims below the horizon, creating a long twilight instead of full night.
According to the 2011 Census, Naujaat has 180 occupied private dwellings, including 100 single detached houses, 10 semi-detached houses, and 65 row houses. The Nunavut Economic Developers Association website indicates that about 18% of these homes are privately owned. The remainder is made up of rental housing, chiefly provided by employers, and public housing. The Census indicates that 58% of households have four or more people, significantly above the Canadian average of 2.5 per home. As housing in Naujaat is in such 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 Naujaat.
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 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. Cell phone service is not currently available. 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 Naujaat Co-Operative store and the Northern Store. 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, 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 that are 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. Companies that provide this service in Naujaat are Nunavut Eastern Arctic Shipping and Nunavut Sealink and Supply. See the contact list for phone numbers and websites.
Naujaat is served by a Health Centre (also referred to as the Nursing Station), which is staffed by nurse practitioners. Basic medical care is provided, including 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. Naujaat has regular visits from community physicians, in addition to specialist visits and dentist visits. Regional services are provided through the Rankin Health Centre, with support from hospitals in 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 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 then mail the 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 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. The Health Centre may be able to supply some emergency prescriptions, but 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 poor weather conditions.
Naujaat has a dental clinic, which may be staffed by a dental therapist. A dentist visits the community 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 Naujaat is routed through Rankin Inlet with First Air, Canadian North and Calm Air. First Air (Sakku First Aviation) flies into Repulse Bay, as does Calm Air, with a connection to Canadian North flights. Calm Air also provides direct service from Winnipeg. Service is not necessarily daily and can change seasonally, so check with the airlines for up-to-date scheduling information. 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.
Taxi service is available, check the contact list for more details. Many people get around on snowmobiles in the winter and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) in the summer, but private vehicles brought up on the annual sealift are becoming increasingly common. Garage services for private vehicles are limited.
The Hamlet maintains a community hall and an arena. The school’s gymnasium is also used for activities outside of school hours. There is usually a winter festival in March, which includes activities such as dogsled races, fishing derbies and dances. Local residents may also build an outdoor ice rink. Some residents still maintain dog teams. Hiking, ATV riding, kayaking, boating, hunting and fishing are popular outdoor activities in the summer months. Hunting and fishing regulations differ for residents who are beneficiaries under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. Contact the local GN Wildlife Management Office for the necessary licenses or wildlife tags if you want to participate in these activities.
Under the Nunavut Liquor Act and Regulations, Naujaat 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 as Hamlet councillors. The committee’s mandate is to educate its community on preventing 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. Consult its website for more information on the system.