Igloo Building 101 – Churchill Style

Learning how to build igloos on a Natural Habitat Adventures northern lights trip is a side benefit of viewing some incredible aurora borealis over the course of he week. At least that’s what transpired with guide Justin Gibson’s group in Churchill. With phenomenal consistent northern lights in the chilly Arctic sky, the daytime activities have been even more intriguing and educational for the travelers in the group. The cold seems just part of the experience of living in the sub – Arctic when thrills continue to come in the night sky.

This clip of Justin’s group constructing their first igloo is pretty cool. We’ve added another authentic Inuit tutorial for you to compare and judge how well the group did. Both videos are very fun to watch.

A Summer Day for a Polar Bear

We have replaced Thursday’s video post of Inuk guides working for Arctic Kingdom. Upon receiving information from a trusted source we have learned that the group encourages baiting and herding bears for the benefit of photographers. This is an unconscionable practice as it not only exploits and harasses the polar bears but jeopardizes their lives by placing them in strenuous situations where they could be shot if they approach too closely. The human interaction also breaks down the natural barrier between the animals and humans which could cause life or death situations later on.

This video shows a typical summer day for a polar bear in the sub Arctic!


Arctic Tiny Houses Will Conserve Energy

A concept image of new prototype housing, designed specifically for northern climates and Inuit culture.

Concept design of northern Arctic housing. Fournier, Gesrovitz, Moss, Drolet and Assoc. Architects image.

Traditional high Arctic home building designs have been similar in structure and layout to those found in the south. However, as with the tiny house movement in the lower lattitudes, architects in Quebec are rethinking the design process for buildings that will be constructed above the 60th parallel. These new highly efficient structures will be more aptly suited for the climate and lifestyle of Inuit residents of the region. The Societe D’habitation du Quebec the chief housing authority for the province is working on new designs for the Arctic.

Since 2012 the agency has been working on the design in collaboration with a Montreal architectural firm as well as regional housing bureau agencies which have provided key input related to design needs and cultural traditions of Cree and Inuit inhabitants, especially relating to interior layout.

Initially, two prototypes will be constructed this year in Quaqtaq on the Diana Bay shore along the Hudson Strait. It is unclear how the inhabitants of these first two homes will be selected or what they will be required to pay for the units.

Nunavik, Quebec site of Arctic housing unit

Quuaqtak in Nunavik, Northern Quebec is site of prototype design of housing unit. Google maps image..

The structural design will be highly energy efficient with walls, roof and floor insulated above standard levels as well as a heat exchange heating system generated from the water heater. Steel piles will anchor the homes in the Precambrian shield and adjust for melting of permafrost in many areas.

Nunavik , Quebec housing construction site.

Pilings being driven into housing location in Nunuvik, Quebec. Societe d’habitation du Quebec photo.

Storage for the unit will be maximized with innovative spacial concepts for the attic, laundry room and kitchen that provides a movable large island for additional space. Securely locked storage cabinets will be built in for hunting firearm and ammunition. Both a cold and warm porch will be features that specifically cater to the traditional Inuit lifestyle. In all this new design will be highly efficient and desired by Inuit families.

Protecting the “Last Ice” Region

Fortunately the “last ice” region we are discussing is being used in a manner of symbolism.  The area of interest is above Canada’s High Arctic Islands and northwest Greenland. National Geographic Society and World Wildlife Fund-Canada are on a mission to protect the Arctic.

Since the late 1970s when satellite monitoring was instituted, Arctic summer sea ice extent has been shrinking at a rate of about 12 per cent per decade, according to both organizations in an August news release.

Polar bear on sea ice.

Polar bear on sea ice in the high Arctic. Natural Habitat Photo.

The two organizations have teamed up to increase attention and awareness of — the “Last Ice Area” — the region climate scientists project summer sea ice to last the longest.

Recognizing the ‘Last Ice Area’ and the need to protect it for ice-dependent species and northern communities has been a top priority of our Arctic work for several years,” said WWF-Canada President and CEO David Miller. “We couldn’t have asked for a better partner to help steer the public eye northward to this important region.”

The National Geographic Pristine Seas project will include partner WWF-Canada to bring attention to the threats facing the summer sea ice and document “how the Inuit culture is connected to the area and its extraordinary wildlife.”


The “last ice area” near Greenland. Jane George photo.


“Highlighting the ‘Last Ice Area’ and the need to protect it for ice-dependent species and northern communities has been a top priority of our Arctic work for several years,” said WWF-Canada President and CEO David Miller. “We couldn’t have asked for a better partner to help steer the public eye northward to this important region.”

The Pristine Seas project by National Geographic  will partner with WWF-Canada to spread awareness of the threats of shrinking summer sea ice areas. The connection between the inuit culture of the north and the extraordinary wildlife will be the primary focus.

“We came close to Arctic wildlife and filmed them like never before while also documenting the last traditional hunting by the Inuit,” said National Geographic’s Enric Sala about a recent trip to northern Baffin Island.

The Birth of Nunavut

It’s hard to believe that Canada’s newest territory is almost 16 years old. April 1, 1999 was the official date Nunavut separated from the Northwest Territories. Comprising a major portion of Northern Canada as well as most of the islands in the Arctic region, Nunavut is the fifth – largest country sub division in the world. Nunavut borders with Manitoba and the waters of the Hudson Bay are included in its borders.

The capital is Iqaluit, formerly Frobisher Bay on Baffin Island. Other major communities include the regional  centers of Rankin Inlet and Cambridge Bay. In the far north, Nunavut also includes Ellesmere Island as well as the eastern and southern portions of Victoria Island in the west as well as Akimiski Island in James Bay in the far south. It is the only region of Canada that is not connected to the rest of North America by highway.

The youngest territory is the least populous though largest in overall area of all the provinces and territories of Canada. With a mostly Inuit population of nearly 32,000, Nunavut is a sparsely settled region about the size of Western Europe. Alert, the northernmost inhabited place in the world, is also a part of Nunavut.

The territory of Nunavut. Vabmanagement.com. image.

The territory includes all of the islands in Hudson Bay, James Bay and Ungava Bay. If Nunavut were a country, it would rank 15th in area. The population density is 0.015 persons per square kilometer, one of the lowest in the world. Greenland has approximately the same area and nearly twice the population.  Nunavut’s highest point is Barbeau Peak (2,616 m (8,583 ft)) on Ellesmere Island. 

Nunavut’s coat of arms. Image courtesy of assembly.nu.ca

Since the 1976 initial proposal by the 82 % Inuit population of Nunavut, the long journey to the current territorial status was delayed by disputes over land claims. So, after 23 years, the territory was born. It seems slightly odd that a native territory took that long to emerge as such. The name “Nunavut” is derived from the Inuit word for “our  land”.


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