Situated on the eastern coast of Hudson Bay, the name Puvirnituq derives from the Inuit words meaning "where it smells of rotten meat". Theories concerning the origins of the name vary. Most likely is that an epidemic wiped out the community one winter long ago, although it may also refer to caribou that had drowned in the area during one of their frequent migrations, only to be discovered when the warm weather returned.
Puvirnituq's modern history began in 1921 when the Hudson Bay Company concentrated its activities in the area, finally opening a general store in 1951 that encouraged coastal migration and secured the permanence of the settlement. Then, in the mid 1950s, a Catholic missionary became duly astonished by the graceful and realistic self-depictions of Inuit soapstone carving. Father Steinman founded a vibrant carvers' cooperative that quickly brought worldwide attention to Inuit culture.
Although initially opposed to the advent of hydroelectric installations in 1974, many other Inuit were more amenable to the project that eventually went forward. Today, Puvirnituq is the hub of the Hudson coast. The village's airport is also the gateway to more remote communities. Puvirnituq and Kuujjuaq, Nunavik's administrative centres, are also connected directly by plane everyday.
So essential has it become to the needs of the region, a brand new terminal has opened in Puvirnituq during fall 2013.
The Puvirnituq Snow Festival consists of a mix of traditional activities, not least of which is the snow-sculpting contest where celebrated Inuit sculptors create outstanding representations from the white substance with which they are unusually familiar. Traditional tools, hunting gear and apparel dating back to the Thule culture are also to be seen at various archaeological sites.
Photo Credit : Alexandra Offlaville