Monday, 14 June 2010

Grise Fiord - the place where ice never melts

Grise Fiord (Aujuittuq, "place that never thaws") is a small Inuit hamlet, in the territory of Nunavut, Canada, surrounded by high cliffs and, for most of the year, sea ice.

Pop. 160 , loc. 76º 25´N , 82°53′ W , 1 150 km above the Arctic Circle

Grise Fiord is located on the south coast of Ellesmere Island, on the north shore of Jones Sound, and is Canada's most northerly community and one of the northernmost settlements on earth.

It was founded in 1953, when the Canadian government relocated Inuit families from northern Quebec and Baffin Island to the top north, to strengthen Canada's sovereignty on the High Arctic. Later, some improvements were made: the construction of a school, a government administration building, post office, airfield, and in 1966 the Inuit cooperative.

The traditional inuit fishing and hunting activity remains vital. Seal, polar bear, walrus, musk ox, beluga, narwhal and fish are the basic food resources, as the few southern supplies are very expensive.

Another income comes from tourism (some arctic cruises) and the selling of local handcraft made on walrus ivory:>

Looty Pijamini
Inuit artist from Grise Fiord, Canada:

Inukshuks ( = in the likeness of a human) are used as directional markers by Inuit people for communication and survival or as a place of respect or memorial. They mean “Someone was here".

Traditional amautiit clothing (left: seal, right: caribou) .
Amautiit = arctic Inuit parka designed to carry a child in the same garment as the parent

At these latitudes, there are two seasons: the "light" season from May to August, when the sun never sets, and the "dark" season from October to mid-February, when the sun never rises - it´s the long arctic night. temperature stays well below 0 °C for more than eight months of the year. It can dip often to -40º C in January, and snow storms isolate the settlement. Record low was -62.2º C.

The school also acts as a community center, with weekly dances, movies, classes in sewing, cooking, art, adult education.