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Kugaaruk: “little stream”
The smallest of the Kitikmeot communities, Kugaaruk is located on Nunavut’s mainland, on the Simpson peninsula. It is surrounded by beautiful valleys ideal for hiking or viewing on all-terrain vehicles. The picturesque small mountains nearby make for a memorable day on the water, kayaking, canoeing or boating, while exploring the numerous nearby islands. Until 1999, the hamlet was known as Pelly Bay, named after former Hudson’s Bay Company governor Sir John Pelly. It is now known by its Inuktitut name, Kugaaruk.
The traditional Inuit lifestyle is still strongly embraced in the Kitikmeot and that is definitely true of Kugaaruk.
Whales play a critical part in the community’s diet. Narwhal, distinct due to their long tusks, and beluga, which have white skin, are hunted regularly. Gigantic bowhead whales, which can weigh up to 100 tonnes, are harvested rarely due to their small population as a result of Atlantic commercial whaling in the past. However, landing a single bowhead goes a long way due to their copious skin, blubber and meat, even when shared among the entire community. Although uncommon, the odd killer whale (or orca) has been spotted in the Gulf of Boothia in recent years.
Seals are plentiful and are another savoured source of food. Seal fur is used for clothing. Caribou, which provides highly desired meat, migrate near the community. Polar bears and less commonly, grizzly bears occasionally make an appearance in or around Kugaaruk.
Bird watching and photography are popular, as there are many types of birds in the area, such as falcons, ducks, Canada geese, swans and snowy owls.
Supplies arrive via cargo ships at sea lift time. The window for shipping via the Arctic Ocean lasts only a few months because thick ice prevents navigation during most of the year. With treacherous channels around islands, Kugaaruk is one of the most difficult hamlets to access for sea lift.
Regular air service is provided by Canadian North’s ATR.
Kugaaruk is an alcohol prohibited community, meaning no alcohol is permitted.
For more information on the community’s services, contact the Hamlet office at 867-769-6281.