If you are looking for the heart of Nunavut, look no further than Kimmirut, which means “the heel’ in Inuktitut, a reference to the shape of a hill near the community.
Sitting at the mouth of the Soper Heritage River where it drains into the Atlantic Ocean, this small, tight knit community of 425, is surrounded by stunning scenery and abundant wildlife. The people continue to have a deep connection with Inuit culture. You will experience what life was traditionally like in most Nunavut communities in modern day Kimmirut.
Essential experiences include:
- Visiting nearby Katannilik Park ideal for hikers, paddlers, and dogsledders
- Exploring the unique local arts scene at Soper House, with its array of intricate carvings, tapestries, and jewellery
- Viewing the wonderful array of nearby marine mammals, including polar bears, whales, seals, and walruses
The people of Kimmirut have had contact with Europeans longer than most Inuit in the Qikiqtani region. After thousands of years of living in the Kimmirut area, Inuit contact with Europeans began in the late 1600s. The rise of the Hudson’s Bay Company brought traders into the area transiting throughout Nunavut.
The first permanent buildings in Kimmirut were erected in 1900, when the Anglican mission opened. The Hudson’s Bay Company built the region’s first trading post in 1911 and the RCMP followed with a station in 1927. The construction of the school in the late 1950’s and a nursing station brought many Inuit off the land to settle in the community.
Today, you will find a community still thriving on the traditional economy. Skilled artists, while not as well known as their cousins in Cape Dorset, craft magnificent carvings, wall hangings, and jewellery – much of whom use gemstones unique to this area. Soper House, run by the Quliruakut Arts and Craft Society, displays and represents the work of local artists and craftspeople. Hunting provides much of the local diet and is the cornerstone of this traditional economy. Polar bears, beluga, caribou, seals, and birds are all visible within the area.
For many modern day explorers, a visit to Kimmirut is not complete without a trek through the nearby Katannilik Park. Visitors are wowed by the journey down the Soper Heritage River, known in Inuktitut as Kuujjuaq or ‘the great river’. The Soper River that bisects the park is on the bucket list of many paddlers from around the world.
A visit to the Katannilik Territorial Park Visitor’s Centre will provide you with a complete overview of what is seasonally available, and help you connect with a qualified guide.
The proximity of Kimmirut to the nearby City of Iqaluit makes Kimmirut ideal for people seeking an experience of traditional Nunavut life.