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Kugluktuk *      [pop: approx 1200 ]

by   Millie Kuliktana

Set between the banks of the mighty Coppermine River and the shores of Coronation Gulf on the Arctic Ocean, the name Kugluktuk (formerly known as Coppermine) was intended to reflect the meaning "the place of mving water" in Inuinnaqtun.

However something was lost in the naming process and the proper spelling Qurluqtuq, fell by the wayside. Kugluktuk actually mneans "two startled people"!  The community's peaceful demeanor, though, is unlikely to startle newcomers.                


    Kugluktuk is not far from historic Bloody Falls on the Coppermine River. In 1771, Bloody Falls was the site of a fierce battle between local Inuit and a group of travelling Chipewyan.

    The river is also the site of a well-known murder. In 1913 two hunters, Sinisiak and Uluksak, murdered two Oblate priests. The priests forced the Inuit to guide them, but the two, fearing for their lives and the welfare of their families back home, dispatched them. They were taken to Edmonton in 1917, tried and sentenced to life in prison at Fort Resolution though they were released in 1919.

    The Hudson’s Bay Co. built a trading post here in 1927 and the following year the Anglican Church established a presence, joining the Catholic Church which had already been here for more than a decade. With the arrival of the RCMP in Kugluktuk in 1932, traditional medicine men and shamans were forced to ease their practices. Hunters were made to work for wages, children had to be formally educated and traditional methods of discipline were halted. Kugluktuk recent history was highlighted by a special ceremony July 9, 1993 that marked the proclamation of the Nunavut land Claims Agreement Act and the Nunavut Act, federal legislation creating – in the latter case – the new territory of Nunavut. Musicians, artists, Inuit leaders, adults, children and elders sang, laughed, cried and feasted together, celebrating this historic day under warm, sunny skies.

Kugluktuk: Land & Wildlife

   In Kugluktuk the activities are seasonal. With spring comes the return of geese and snow
buntings and the scurry of the squirrel. Residents spend more time out-doors in the
ever-increasing sunlight; you’ll see many making “dry meat” by hanging strips in the midday sun.

    In summer, the glimmering tundra and the waters around the community come to life. The tundra, close to the tree line here, is home to a wide variety of wildlife: moose, wolverines, wolves, foxes, muskoxen, barren-ground grizzlies and caribou. All species bring an abundance of food and fur to the hunters and trappers of the community. Outfitters can arrange sport hunts (muskoxen, caribou, grizzly bears and wolf) and fishing trips.

    The animals can be nuisances too, especially grizzles which tend to wreck cabins and tent frames and shred canvas roof tarps. An interesting Inuit belief is that s foggy morning in spring is a sign of a grizzly’s that has bellowed a blast of warm air into the cool morning air after waking from its long winter hibernation.

    The rare visit of beluga whales excites local hunters. They seek the maktaaq of  the whale the chewouter layer of skin ands fat considered a delicacy by Inuit. The  most common marine mammal in the area is the ringed  seal which is an important part of the summer and  autumn diet along with arctic char.

   The cliffs that erupt from the ground to the east and west of the community are havens for peregrine falcons and ravens that crowd the southern faces to baskin the heat of the sun. Summer also means time for Kugluktuk’s gardeners to exercise their green thumbs. Some successfully grow a variety of vegetables


*Reproduced from the Nunavut Handbook