Arviat (place of the bowhead whales) was formerly called Eskimo Point, until it was renamed in June, 1989. Arviat is the southern most community on mainland Nunavut, situated on the western shores of Hudson Bay, in the Kivalliq region of Nunavut, two hundred miles north of Churchill. The name Arviat is derived from the Inuktituk word “arviq” meaning “Bowhead Whale”. Arviat has a population of over 2000 which 95% are Inuit.
Arviat has a rich history beginning in the early 1920’s with the establishment of the Hudson’s Bay Co. outpost, followed by the Roman Catholic Mission in 1924 and the Anglican mission in 1929. With the RCMP post established in 1936, the settlement was then a reality. Eskimo Point became the official name of the settlement in 1956. Throughout the 1950’s, with the opening of the airstrip, waves of prospectors and surveyors arrived to map out the new territory, quickly followed by epidemics which spread throughout the area. In 1959, due to caribou migration changes, starvation ensued and forced the surviving Inuit living inland to be relocated to various settlements including Eskimo Point. As a result of these extreme hardships, the people making up the majority of the population of Arviat are truly survivors to this day.
Arviat is the centre of a diverse ecosystem of rivers and coastline offering glimpses of:
Polar bear migrations.
Migratory bird nesting areas.
Pods of beluga whales.
Arctic plant life.
Arviat has some unique attractions and activities. When in Arviat, we would suggest:
A visit to the Margaret Aniksak Visitors Centre. Exhibits include displays of traditional Inuit life and artifacts from the Arvia’juaq archaeological site.
The Arviat Sivulinut Elders Society offers instruction in string games, throat singing and holds traditional cookouts of caribou heads, hooves and other delicacies.
Kiluk Sewing Centre offer a wide variety of local art and crafts for sale – a must see!! (867) 857-2713.
Eskimo Point Lumber Supply has an excellent photo walk through depicting life in Arviat throughout the past thirty years. EPLS is a general store with a wide variety of products from building materials to groceries and everything in between.
Eskimo Point Lumber Supply Contact Info:
The McConnell River Migratory Bird Sanctuary is a short ATV ride from Arviat. This bird sanctuary is a nesting spot for geese, swans, loons, snowy owls, peregrine falcons and gyrfalcons! The McConnell Bird Sanctuary area has been designated as a wetland of International importance and a key migratory bird habitat.
The Mikilak Centre offers unique Arctic prints/pictures, (867) 857-2521.