"Arviat / Eskimo Point" Arviat by Aopaq

Arviat Travel Guide: 14 reviews and 22 photos

Arviat Overview

Arviat is one of the 14 communities in Canada's newest territory, Nunavut, which came into being on April 1, 1999. The town is situated on the west coast of Hudson Bay on the tundra which means there are no trees and the weather can be quite extreme. Wind chill temperatures down to -70 degrees Celcius can occur and ice remains on the bay into June
The government is the main employer here although many Inuit still lead relatively traditional lives relying on caribou, char, seal and beluga whale as sources of food.

In Arviat the dominant language is Inuktitut although one can easily survive being unilingual English (like myself).

Culture is still very strong in this community as carving (stone and antler) is very common as is sewing of traditional clothing (kamiks (seal/caribou boots), gloves and parkas) and wall hangings.

Drum dancing and throat singing are also practiced and fortunately many of the young people are also learning these skills from the elders.

As far as a tourist location, Arviat is really not well set up for this as accommodations are poor and there is no real decent restaurant (more fast food places). Flight costs to the community are also very high ($1200 from Winnipeg) as are the general costs of groceries and supplies.

With that said, people that do venture to this community enjoy the friendliness of the locals, the unique cultural experiences and the "beauty" of the tundra.

Traditional Inuit Housing

Although Inuit no longer regularly live in iglus, having the ability to construct these incredible structures is a life-saving skill, especially for those hunters who get caught in blizzards.

A properly made iglu is difficult to construct for an inexperienced person and takes much practice to perfect. However, once completed, they are incredibly strong (you can easily stand on top of one) but also relatively warm inside.

Just a recommendation is not to drink tea before you retire into an iglu to spend the night and seal up the entry way. This can lead to an uncomfortable sleep although I was later told that the trick is to roll over in your sleeping bag, dig a little hole in the floor and relieve yourself without even standing up. Then cover-up your hole with other snow and go back to sleep. This is obviously a bit trickier for those of the female gender.

Arviat Sport

Dog racing is very popular in Arviat. There are as many as 20 dog teams in the community with races quite common during the holidays. This year there will be the first Arviat - Churchill race which is around 100 kilometres.

The Arviat style sleds are different from the stand-up western version shown in the photo. Arviat mushers sit or lie on flat wooden "kamotiqs" pulled by around 8-10 dogs that have been bred more for speed than brawn. This is contrast to the tradition Eskimo huskies (such as Aopaq - in my homepage pic) who have very broad chests and were bred for pulling loads.

The dogs are attached to the sleds using a fan hitch which contrasts with the more commonly known tandem hitch which is especially suited for terrain where there are trees to navigate through (not a concern on the tundra).

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Unique Inuit culture
  • Cons:Expensive and lack of facilities
  • In a nutshell:Very different than most other parts of Canada
  • Intro Updated May 27, 2004
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Reviews (14)

Comments (19)

  • Feb 21, 2008 at 1:57 AM

    Great page, I really loved your local custom and general tips! Fascinating!!! :)

  • JohnniOmani's Profile Photo
    Oct 12, 2007 at 6:51 PM

    Great page on Arviat, I loved my 5.5 months there and I often dream about that life . great stuff :) jz

  • uglyscot's Profile Photo
    Sep 10, 2007 at 3:33 AM

    Fascinating information on a place few of us are likely to visit

  • Sep 9, 2007 at 5:41 PM

    very intresting :-)

  • ricky52's Profile Photo
    Sep 9, 2007 at 4:41 PM

    Wow, what a insight to your town. The power of VT, I get to visit Arviat without getting cold. Great pages.

  • Karlie85's Profile Photo
    Sep 9, 2007 at 1:46 PM

    Interesting look at another part of Canada I don't know much about. I would love to go up north one day.

  • maria_hz's Profile Photo
    Sep 9, 2007 at 1:26 PM

    Really loved your pages about Arviat. They provide a glimpse into what life is like in your community. So different from mine :)

  • monina_c's Profile Photo
    Jun 18, 2007 at 9:58 PM

    I am glad that my page gave you more impetus to visit your foster child. Thank you for sharing this hometown page of yours. I hope you continue helping those dogs which nobody else wants.

  • Nanauq99723's Profile Photo
    May 22, 2007 at 11:05 PM

    That's how it is here in some streets where we're not connected to the Utilidoor/Water Lines.

  • ccretcha's Profile Photo
    Jan 5, 2007 at 10:27 AM

    I really enjoyed your page and learning about you and your dogs. They do have their own personnality and we can wonder sometimes who's the real master. They tend to make us do what they want while making us think that they are doing what we want!!!

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