Restricted, with an Alcohol Education Committee (October 2014)*
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No bank branches. Light banking service at the Co-op. Interac and credit cards accepted. Internet banking is recommended.
Telephone and Internet (limited bandwidth) services are available. Cell phone service is not currently available.
The Hamlet of Resolute Bay, located on the south side of Cornwallis Island, has many archeological remains that date back back to pre-Dorset, Dorset and Thule times. The Inuktitut name of the community, Qausuittuq, means “the place with no dawn.” Situated on the north side of what became the Northwest Passage, the Resolute Bay area has a long history of European exploration as part of the search for the Passage and for John Franklin. The name of the Bay is attributed to the British ship “Resolute,” which was frozen in the ice there in the 1850s during the search for John Franklin. Although the area contains many vestiges of historic occupation, Inuit did not continuously occupy the site until 1953. The modern history of Resolute Bay began in 1947 when a meteorological station was constructed as part of the JAWS (Joint Arctic Weather Station) program of the Canadian and U. S. governments. The construction of an air force base followed in 1949. In 1953, Resolute Bay was one of the two locations (the other being Grise Fiord) to which Inuit were forcibly moved to help establish Canadian Arctic sovereignty. The RCMP accompanied the Inuit to the community. Because of the strategic location of the community, the federal government chose it as the base for the Polar Continental Shelf Project in the 1950s, which documented the extent of Canada’s marine shelf area and undertook active scientific research to understand better this unmapped (at the time) part of Canada. The federal government constructed a day school and housing for residents in the 1960s, as it did in many other northern communities. The community was moved away from the base area to its current location in 1975.
The Government of Nunavut (GN) Employee Orientation website offers an excellent collection of material on the general history of Nunavut, together with an overview of Inuit culture and history and an explanation of how Inuit cultural principles are being incorporated into government operations and services. We recommend exploring this site once it is available again after their restructuring, for now you can try the general GN site for information.
Resolute, as many people call it, comes to life in the spring and summer months, when it becomes a base for expeditions of all sorts: people trekking by various means to the North Pole, people heading out to high Arctic research posts or tourism sites, and the Canadian military conducting training exercises. Year-round it is the transportation lifeline for Grise Fiord. Although many local residents maintain traditional Inuit hunting and harvesting practices, the focus of the town tends to be on exploration, military exercises and scientific research. Resolute residents have social and family connections with other high Arctic and northern Quebec Inuit communities. St. Barnabas Anglican Church is an outpost of the Pond Inlet Parish. Clergy from Pond will make occasional visits, but lay members of the community run regular services. There is no Roman Catholic church in Resolute.
Reflecting its role as a transportation hub, Resolute has more language diversity than most Qikiqtani region communities. Inuktitut is the mother tongue for 56% of the population, English for 40%, and French for 2%. However, English is the predominant language of work and home, spoken by 78% of the population as their first language at home, and by 14% as a second language at home. Inuktitut is used by 58% regularly in the home as a first or second language, and 5% can speak English and French.
Resolute Bay’s population is older than in most Nunavut communities, although still younger than the Canadian average. The 2011 Census counted 20 pre-school and 60 school-age children, making 37% of the population under 18. The median age is 26.5, and 5% of the population is over 65.
The economy of Resolute Bay draws mainly from its role as a transportation centre for the high Arctic. The airport supports both jet service and smaller aircraft used to access Grise Fiord and “off-strip” activity in support of exploration and scientific research. The community hosts the Polar Continental Shelf Project logistics base for polar research and a military Arctic training centre. It also acts as a staging area for supplies brought in by sealift and serves as the base for the annual parade of polar “explorers” travelling throughout the region or to the North Pole. Hotels provide accommodation for business travelers, tourists, exploration groups, research parties, and those travelling through to Grise Fiord who may be held up by the weather. Many local residents also supply goods and guiding services for the commercial polar bear sport hunt, a strictly regulated activity, which is of great economic importance to the community. There is a small arts and crafts community, and a local traditional economy based on wildlife harvesting.
As in most Nunavut communities, there are no bank branches in Resolute Bay, and cash supplies can often become very limited. The Co-op store offers “light banking” services, which may include the ability to maintain a small cash account with the store, cash cheques, etc. It is highly recommended that newcomers establish Internet banking services and online methods of bill payment, particularly since postal service can often be delayed if bad weather disrupts transportation.
The availability of wildlife around Resolute Bay changes with the seasons. Polar bears, wolves, foxes, caribou, ring and bearded seals and narwhal can be found in the area most of the year. Commercial polar bear sport hunting is part of the economy of the community, and is tightly controlled through wildlife regulations. The summer sees the return of about 30 species of Arctic birds, including king eider ducks, snow geese, gulls, jaegers, phalaropes and plovers. Travel into Lancaster Sound provides a great opportunity to see the wide variety of wildlife that congregates around polynyas, which are areas of permanently open water. Several locations near the community provide opportunities to fish for Arctic char. Nearby, the federal government has established the Polar Bear Pass National Wildlife Area. Negotiations are currently underway for the establishment of a national park to include the wildlife preserve and other representative ecosystem features.
Resolute Bay’s climate is cold, with a daily average between -29.2ᵒC and -33.1ºᵒC from December to February, and days reaching a daily maximum above freezing only from June to August. The temperature hardly ever exceeds 7ᵒC, and almost never reaches the teens. The area is considered to be polar desert: average precipitation in a year is 50.3 mm of rain and 110.3 cm of snow. Current weather conditions and forecasts for Resolute Bay are posted on the Environment Canada website.
People’s tolerance for cold varies with experience, but warm winter clothing is required for several months of every year. If you are moving to Nunavut, make sure you bring essential winter gear. Although you can sometimes purchase hand-made clothing, such as parkas and mitts from local seamstresses, their services are not always available, and commercial winter clothing and footwear may be in low supply in the local stores. Check- in with your principal or colleagues for their advice on practical winter gear to purchase and bring with you.
At 74°43’ degrees latitude, Resolute Bay is the second most northerly civilian community in Nunavut — only Grise Fiord lies further north. This is the true land of polar night and midnight sun. The amount of daylight in the winter diminishes to nothing by the last week of November and it remains dark for about two and a half months, until the first week of February. The amount of daylight increases to 24 hours a day by the last week of April, and daylight is continuous for the next three and a half months until mid-August. Visitors must be reminded not to sleep outside in the summer months without some form of sun protection, as they can acquire serious sunburns overnight.
According to the 2011 Census, Resolute Bay has 70 occupied private dwellings, including 50 single detached houses, 10 semi-detached houses, and five apartment buildings under five storeys. The majority of dwellings are either employers-provided rental housing or public housing. As housing in Nunavut is in short supply, ask your employer about the housing provisions of your employment and its cost. There is a possibility that you may be required to share housing with another colleague. You should also ask about the appropriate housing insurance to acquire. If you have pets, the need for pet-friendly accommodation should be clearly indicated in any housing applications or documentation. You should also be aware that there is no veterinary service in Resolute Bay.
Water and sewage services, managed by the Hamlet, are provided by “utilidor,” a system of utility pipes that is designed to deal with Arctic permafrost conditions. The Hamlet also provides garbage pick-up service. Most homes are heated with oil furnaces and the Co-op is the local heating fuel provider. Electrical power is supplied by Qulliq Energy’s local power plant. All telecommunications arrive in Nunavut via satellite. Telephone service is available only through NorthwesTel. There is currently no cellphone service available. Internet service is available from the local service provider (Qiniq), with limited bandwidth capacity, or direct-to-home satellite (Xplornet), which requires special arrangements for satellite dish installation. Cable TV is provided by the Co-op and direct-to-home satellite TV by Bell Canada TV.
The local co-operative, Tudjaat Co-operative, is the only store operating in Resolute Bay, and provides local shopping and perishables. See the contact list for phone numbers. Basic fresh staples, such as milk, bread, and some fresh produce, along with canned and dry goods, are normally stocked throughout the year, although shortages can easily occur if supply planes are delayed by bad weather. Store managers can sometimes order special items if they are requested. “Country food” (wildlife hunted or fished for food), such as muskox, fish or seal, is not usually sold in the store, but if you are interested you can sample these delicious and nutritious foods at community feasts and may occasionally be able to obtain them from local hunters.
In the High Arctic, average prices tend to be higher than most average northern communities (that lies closer to the south), although many employers such as the Government of Nunavut does provide a cost-of-living allowances to off-set these higher cost. Perishable items arrive by air freight, sea shipping lanes are open for only a brief period every year, and there are no highway links. Weather conditions also affect the arrival of planes, occasionally causing temporary shortages. If you have special dietary requirements (e.g., gluten-free, allergy-related, organic), you may wish to look into stocking up on particular supplies or identify sources that will ship north. You can find information about obtaining the food subsidies available for direct or personal orders under the Government of Canada’s Nutrition North program on its website. In addition, many businesses will ship items in unsubsidized food mail. Free shipping from Internet-based suppliers often becomes an important consideration. Local residents can suggest favourite shipping methods and suppliers for food and supplies not available in the community, including “country food” from other Nunavut communities.
Bulk supplies, large or heavy items (e.g., vehicles, furniture) and building supplies are usually brought in by annual sealift. The shipping season is short, and orders must be placed with shipping marshalling deadlines in mind. The companies that provide service in Resolute Bay are Nunavut Eastern Arctic Shipping and Nunavut Sealift and Supply. See the contact list for phone numbers and websites.
Resolute Bay is served by a Health Centre (also referred to as a Nursing Station) staffed by nurse practitioners. Basic medical care is provided, such as regular checkups, the treatment of minor illnesses, and emergency first response. The number of nurses at the Health Centre reflects the size of the community. Resolute Bay has regular visits from community physicians, in addition to specialist and dentist visits. Regional services are provided through the Qikiqtani General Hospital in Iqaluit, with support from hospitals in Ottawa. Those requiring specialist treatment are frequently sent to Iqaluit or “south,” depending on the nature and seriousness of the complaint.
New residents of Nunavut are not immediately covered by Nunavut health care. You must be a resident of Nunavut for three months, with at least a one-year work contract, before you are eligible. You can download and complete the online Nunavut health card application, and mail the application, along with the required documentation, to the Department of Health after your three-month residency. Applications are also available at the Health Centre. It is very important that you have a Nunavut health card, because although your previous provincial or territorial health card may still cover your health expenses, it may not cover expenses such as medevacs (emergency chartered plane out of your community). If you intend to have family members or friends that are not residents of Nunavut visiting you, it is highly advised that they purchase medical insurance for the duration of their visit to cover expenses not typically covered by their province and territory. Under your employer’s health care benefits package, you may also receive benefits for expenses, such as prescription drugs, dental services and eyeglasses. Check with your assigned Benefits Officer for details.
Pharmacies are located in Iqaluit and, although the Health Centre may provide some emergency prescriptions, the supplies on hand are limited. If you have a medical condition requiring ongoing prescriptions, you should make arrangements with a pharmacy to have your prescriptions sent to you; be prepared to allow plenty of time for your order to arrive as it may take longer than you expect, depending on the method by which it was sent and weather conditions.
A dentist visits Resolute Bay on a rotational schedule. Demand to see the dentist is usually very high. An optical team also visits on a rotational schedule, checking eyes and dispensing eyeglasses. A mental health nurse (out of Arctic Bay) is also available, providing services to residents of Arctic Bay, Resolute and Grise Fiord. Check with the Health Centre for the availability of these services.
First Air is currently the only airline that supplies regular scheduled service to Resolute Bay, and this may have changed so check with other airlines for updated information. This service is routed through Iqaluit, so air travelers from all destinations with Canadian North or First Air must first reach Iqaluit. Service is not daily, and can change seasonally, so check with the airline for up-to-date scheduling. See the contact list for phone numbers and website details. Because the airline market in Nunavut is small and specialized, costs are very high. Even if your employer covers your initial relocation costs, you should check prices before making personal travel plans.
Qausuittuq Inns North provides a shuttle bus service from the airport to the hotel. There is currently no general taxi service in Resolute (unless there was one started up recently), so if you are not staying at the hotel, you should arrange with local contacts for transportation before arriving. Most people get around on snowmobiles in the winter and all-terrain vehicles in the summer.
Resolute Bay has an arena and the DN Salluviniq Community Gym. Snowmobiling is a favourite activity in the winter and boating in the summer. Hunting and fishing are also favourite pastimes for local residents. Hunting and fishing regulations differ for residents who are beneficiaries under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. Contact the local GN Wildlife Management Office for any necessary licenses or wildlife tags if you intend to hunt or fish.
Under the Nunavut Liquor Act and Regulations, Resolute Bay is a Restricted community, with an Alcohol Education Committee (AEC). This means that the AEC determines how alcohol is controlled and consumed in the community. The AEC is a community-based group created by regulation under the Liquor Act. The members are elected at the same time Hamlet councillors are elected. The committee’s mandate is to educate the community about how to prevent alcohol abuse. In general, the AEC controls and approves how much alcohol an individual can bring into the community. Contact the Hamlet Office for current information. The Government of Nunavut’s Department of Finance is responsible for overseeing alcohol control and distribution in Nunavut and you can also consult its website for more information about the system.