The land


KUUJJUAQ, means “great river [1]”, which the river here once was. After the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, the new dam reduced the river’s flow.

Over 900 Inuit and more that 100 Qallunaat live in Kuujjuaq, making it the largest community in Nunavik. But despite the presence of so many Qallunaat and the fact that English and French are taught in school, the Kuujjuamiut and their children continue to speak Inuktitut. Kuujjuaq’s growth has been promoted by the presence of an airport where Qallunaat planes touch down. But it was the American forces that were the first to arrive. Even if one day the Inuit in Kuujjuaq are outnumbered by Whites, they will always have authority over the area, because it is their land.

All the Kuujjuamiut, from children to Elders, still speak Inuktitut. A number of people speak perfect English and serve as interpreters for Elders who are unilingual.

Kuujjuaq is not very close to hunting grounds, especially for seals. But the caribou migration route passes nearby, and there are fish and ptarmigan.

Airplanes from throughout Nunavik as well as Nunatsiaq (Baffin Island) land in Kuujjuaq. The hospital serves the population of Ungava Bay; women come here to give birth. Many Inuit have been born in Kuujjuaq, or else in Puvirnituq. There are more births than deaths in Nunavik.

The residents of Kuujjuaq welcome people from the villages further north.

Seen from an airplane, the territory of Nunavik is immense. We are glad to live in Québec, because it is an immense land.

by Taamusi Qumaq (1992)

[1] It also translates as “river with strong current.”