Paulatuk celebrates

The beautiful thing about my job is that I get to visit communities most people will never get to go to.

Last week, I spent four days in Paulatuk, an Inuit hamlet on the coast of Arctic Ocean.

About 300 people live there.

Even though it was their 50th anniversary, Inuvialuit have hunted, fished and trapped there for years.

But last week’s celebration marked a half-century since they came off the land and set up a permeant community.

One of the most touching activities that happened during the weekend was the renaming of the community’s health centre after elder Sadie Sukayaaluk.

Paulatuk quick facts:

  • Paulatuk or Paulatuuq means place of coal. Pau means coal in Inuvialuktun.
  • The Inuvialuit who settled here came from Alaska, Kitigaaryuit, the Eastern Arctic (Kugluktuk). Non-inuit such as trappers also came in on ships, schooners and by dog team.
  • Paulatuk was initially inhabited in the early 1920s following the whaling crash, as Inuit searched for good settlement areas that had good access to resources. But the settlement in Paulatuk didn’t last long as fur bearing animals became scarce in the area in the late 1930s
  • They returned to Paulatuk from settlements nearby around 1965.

“Today, the Inuvialuit live in Paulatuuq for the same reasons that drew people there almost 100 years ago, it is an area rich with caribou, fish and other animals to hunt; it has access to both the sea and to fresh water; it is a good place to anchor boats; and is a friendlier land to build homes and travel on than the peninsula.” Paulatuuq Oral History Project, Volume 2, March 2009, Parks Canada, Western Arctic Field Unit

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