Meaning: Place where ice accumulates because of strong currents
Roughly 2000 km north of Montreal, Ivujivik is Quebec’s northernmost village. Nestled in a small, sandy cove, the village is surrounded by imposing cliffs that plunge into the tormented waters of Digges Sound. This is the place where the strong currents of Hudson Bay and the Hudson Strait clash. During particularly strong tides, hapless animals are even known to have been crushed between violent movements of sea ice. On the Ungava Plateau which crowns the cliffs around Ivujivik, the only plants which stubbornly cling to the rocky tundra are lichen.
Located 30 km north-east of Ivujivik is Cape Wolstenholme. Its wind-lashed cliffs are the nesting place of one of the world’s largest colonies of thick-billed murre. To the north-west of Ivujivik are Nottingham and Salisbury islands with their impressive walrus populations.
Different peoples, including most recently the nomadic ancestors of the Inuit, have inhabited the coast and islands of this area for about 4000 years, seal, walrus and beluga forming their staple food source. Such marine animals tend to be abundant as these waters are a migratory pass between Hudson Bay and the Hudson Strait. Strong currents which prevent the sea from freezing also allow hunting to be carried out with greater ease year-round. In addition, the myriad of islands offer superb shelter for waterfowl in summer.
The first recorded encounter between Europeans and Inuit of Nunavik took place in 1610 on nearby Digges Islands during Henry Hudson’s last and fatal expedition to the Arctic in search of a polar route leading to Asia. Later, in 1697, Captain Pierre LeMoyne d’Iberville and his crew, in search of commercial opportunities in Hudson Bay, met Inuit at Cape Wolstenholme. In 1909, the Hudson’s Bay Company established a trading post on the site of today’s settlement. Thereafter, in 1938, a Catholic mission was also founded, but it was only after 1947 that Inuit gradually began to settle close to these two establishments. When the mission closed in the 1960s, the federal government took over delivery of services in the emerging Inuit village. In 1967, the Inuit of Ivujivik founded a co-operative store.
Along with inhabitants of Puvirnituq and 49% of Salluit’s population, Ivujivik Inuit refused to sign the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA) in 1975. Instead, they formed a movement called Inuit Tungavingat Nunamini. Under the JBNQA, other Nunavik Inuit yielded certain land claims and rights making it possible for the provincial government to proceed with its ambitious La Grande hydro-electric project on James Bay.
Digges Islands: First documented encounter between Europeans (Henry Hudson in 1610) and Inuit of Nunavik.
Cape Wolstenholme: abandoned Hudson’s Bay Company trading post and site where Captain Pierre LeMoyne d’Iberville conducted first commercial dealings with the Inuit of Nunavik in 1697.
Source: Nunavik Tourism Association