One thing that was very noticeable in Iqaluit was the large numbers of children everywhere. Nunavut has a very young population with 56% under the age of 25. I saw many Inuit mothers wearing traditional Inuit parkas with large hoods in the back where their babies are carried. The Inuit youth is one of the Canadian Arctic's untapped resources and its future. They have access to satellite television and dress just like their counterparts in the south.
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However, at present only about 25% of high school students graduate so a big challenge for the Nunavut government is to encourage the Inuit kids to stay in school. During my second trip, there was darkness for only a few hours each day so it was very strange to be walking around town at 10 pm in the evening with daylight still present. Even at this hour, there were still quite a few young Inuit children playing outside.
The locals, Inuit and non-Inuit alike were very friendly. I got the impression of a tight community perhaps because of the isolation of the Canadian Arctic. However, the local Inuit were also very open to visitors and willing to share a bit of their lives. During the daytime, I went up to a few Inuit art carvers who were working outside their houses. Each turned off their power saws when I approached them and seemed happy to talk to me. I met most of them later during the evenings when they showed me their finished works of Inuit art. There is a really impressive permanent museum of Inuit art in town and is definitely worth a visit.
I had the opportunity to walk about 30 minutes to the outskirts of town past the airport one day. I climbed up a hilltop with a satellite dish facility overlooking an expansive valley. There was nobody else around and it was incredible how silent the area was. It was like a vacuum where I could hear only my own breathing. It was a very peaceful and even spiritual moment there. While sitting on this Arctic hilltop, I was suddenly startled at one point by a noise and it turned out to be the flapping wings of a large raven flying by.
There are tours offered by local outfitters to see the northern wildlife and experience some of the Arctic tundra further out. I hope to take one of these tours on a future visit. A trip to Nunavut is not cheap since everything, including flights are so expensive. However, I will definitely return not only for more Inuit art, but also to experience more of the local Inuit culture and the Arctic land.
Do you want to go on an Arctic tour? If yes, check out Gap Adventure Tours as they organize trips up there as well as to other exciting destinations around the world.
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If you are planning to go up to the Arctic during the winter months, you will have to bring suitable Arctic winter wear clothing for extreme temperatures. Winters south of the Arctic are nothing compared to the cold up there.
Canadian Native and Inuit artists are producing some stunning artwork these days. Imagine displaying such a piece in your home. For example, see Inuit art carvings or Canadian Native Indian art carvings at very affordable online prices at Free Spirit Gallery.
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