Inuksuit - Silent Messengers of the Arctic

Perhaps because we in the South have been having one of the more intensely cold and icy winters in recent memory, my thoughts have turned of late to the Canadian Arctic.   Of course, my fascination with that region pre-dates the latest cold spell but the current chilliness causes me to contemplate in a more direct way the far north regions and what  difficult living that must be.   So, about a month ago I read through Inuksuit:  Silent Messengers of the North by Norman Hallendy, which clued me into the mysterious man-made rock structures called inuksuk (the plural being inuksuit) and the special role they play in keeping people connected with one another and spiritual forces across the vast and barren — and hauntingly beautiful — landscape.  Hallendy came to understand the intricate language and significations of inuksuit among the Inuit people over the course of his more than 40 years visiting the Canadian Arctic.    His book does a wonderful job allowing us to peek into the lives of the Inuit and their reverence for the natural world.

inukshuk in igloolik by arctic-wl

(Bottom photo credit: arctic-wl’s photostream on flickr:

Nunavut: Doorway to the Arctic

Gull Glacier at Tanquary Fiord in Ukkusiksalik National Park

A few weeks ago Adventure Canada, the operators of an adventure tour in Nunavut, was forced to evacuate, with the assistance of the Canadian Coast Guard, over 100 passengers and dozens of crew members from its Clipper Adventurer because the ship struck a then-uncharted rock in Coronation Bay off the Arctic Ocean.  My heart went out to those whose amazing adventure into this vast wonderland had to be cut short.

The news reports of the incident focused my attention on Nunavut, which I have not visited (yet!).  From what I can tell, Nunavut is among the least visited Canadian provinces because of its remoteness.

Northeast Coast of Baffin Island

Although most of Nunavut is situated north of the Arctic Circle, because the province is so vast within its borders lies the geographic center of Canada.  The province is comprised of a massive expanse of mainland Canada and a sprawling archipelago, each with terrain as rugged as any to be found within the country.  Originally part of the Northwest Territories, Nunavut became a separate province in 1999 as part of a federal commitment to establish a territory for the indigenous Inuit people.

Pangnirtung Fiord at Auyuittiuq National Park

Link to Map of Nunavut: Map%20of%20Nunavut

(Photo credits:  Ansgar Walk, under Creative Commons License)


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