INUKJUAK is a name from the past, because it means “many Inuit lived here.” Today, the community numbers about 1000 Inuit.
The area around Inukjuaq boasts the most beautiful landscapes in all of Nunavik. The islands offshore have steep cliffs that face towards the coast, and it is lovely to cruise below these cliffs in the summer because the sea is calm, especially when there’s not much wind or it comes from offshore. In winter, the icepack is nearly as smooth as a floor, making it easy for dogsleds to travel rapidly.
It was in Inukjuaq that the first French traders, Revillon Frères, set up shop in 1902. Only one of the buildings they erected still stands. I remember them well, because they employed my father. The Inuit still have some of the items the Revillon Company used to sell, especially fox traps.
Today, Inukjuaq is one of the largest communities in Nunavik. There are not very many White residents, and Qallunaat working there usually leave when they finish their projects. The main resources in Inukjuaq are caribou and seal, and in winter it’s possible to fish on the lakes. The rare Inuit who has mastered English speaks it only with the Qallunaat.
There are a number of dogteams in this community these days. After a period of using only snowmobiles, the Inuit have returned to their traditional way. A snowmobile costs between $7,000 and $10,000 and the prices keep rising, and it’s the same for gas. Residents in the north face a lot of challenges, especially because jobs are rare.
by Taamusi Qumaq (1992)