Located in the heart of Hudson Bay in the Belcher Islands, approximately 150 km off the coast, Sanikiluaq is the southernmost settlement in Nunavut. The terrain is strewn with cliffs towering as high as 155 metres above the sea. Many are nesting grounds for eider ducks. Their down is collected from nests and made into beautiful duvets and warm outerwear.
The Inuit have inhabited the Belcher Islands for centuries. These islands are distinctly arctic; no trees grow there at all. The Thule and Dorset cultures also occupied the Islands, as evidenced by many excavation sites. They remained unknown to outsiders until Henry Hudson spotted them in 1610. Over 200 years later, in the 1840s, Thomas Wiegand, a Hudson's Bay Company worker, led an expedition from Fort George (Chisasibi) to the Belchers. Robert Flaherty and his crew were the first to spend the winter on the islands some 75 years later.
Sanikiluaq carvers are known worldwide for their distinctive carvings shaped from argillite, the dark stone found on the Belcher Islands. The community is also renowned for its beautiful baskets made from lyme grass, a craft resuscitated by a group of women who only recently brought the tradition back from the brink of extinction.
Sanikiluaq is great for canoeing, sea kayaking, cross-country skiing and hiking. Local outfitters offer boat, kayak and snowmobile excursions, as well as year-round camping (tents in summer, igloos in winter). Most of the small islands serve as breeding grounds for many species of ducks and geese that can be observed. Leaf Basin offers awe-inspiring tides, while hunting and world-class Arctic char fishing are noteworthy attractions as well.
Photo credit : Joel Heath / Arctic Eider Society