The Rankin hamlet at sundown. Image by Anubha Momin.
This summer my boyfriend Justin spent most of his time on duty travel, flying over Nunavut in a helicopter for work. (Check out his amazing wildlife photos.) While it’s an awesome experience for him, it meant we would be spending months apart, including his birthday, that is, until I decided to hop on a plane to spend his birthday weekend in Rankin Inlet.
The birthday boy! Image by Anubha Momin.
That being said, in the same way that Toronto is not Canada and London is not England, Iqaluit is not representative of the rest of Nunavut.
- It is the seat of the territory’s financial and political power.
- It has the largest population by far of any community (about 7,700).
- This citizenry has a huge proportion of transient workers and non-northerners.
These facts make Iqaluit socially, culturally, and functionally very different from Nunavut’s other hamlets.
In my old job with the government, I had the opportunity to travel to many of Nunavut’s 24 other communities, but this was the first time I had decided to travel within Nunavut for personal reasons.
I flew to Rankin Inlet because it was serving as Justin’s hub for the summer, his temporary home from whence he would travel to various sites.
It was not my first time in Rankin, and, I can tell you, it won’t be my last. In fact, I have a work trip scheduled for the end of September!
About Rankin Inlet
Rankin Inlet is the regional capital of the Kivalliq region of Nunavut, making it the political and business centre of the area. It has a population of about 2,500 people and is connected to southern Canada via airports in Winnipeg and Churchill, Manitoba.
View of Rankin Inlet, Nunavut from the plane. Image by Anubha Momin.
As a town, Rankin has a strong community feel. This may be in part due to their small populace, but I think there’s more to it.
The town hosts lots of well-attended community events like square dances, hockey games, and craft fairs, all of which contribute to Rankin’s social and cultural character. Add in the generally laid-back and friendly attitude of Rankinmiut (people who live in Rankin Inlet), and you get a cozy, small-town vibe that even visitors can appreciate.
Rankin Inlet’s famous giant inuksuk. Image by Anubha Momin.
A Laid-Back (Hot!) Weekend
For his birthday, Justin wanted nothing more than to fish, camp, and hike. And that’s just what we did.
Rankinmiut, in my experience, seem to get out of town a lot more than Iqalummiut. This is evidenced by the numerous tiny cabins dotting the trails outside of town, and by the trails themselves, which are well-used and well-groomed. Rankin’s culture of being on the land makes it easy to get out on the tundra, even as a visitor.
Thus, along with two friends, Justin and I embarked on ATVs, leaving the town hours behind and finding perfect locations for mussel-picking, fishing, and setting up a tent.
One thing to note is that Kivalliq communities, like Rankin, experience unexpectedly hot summers, especially considering that they are in the Canadian Arctic. The temperature was a balmy 24-26 degrees Celsius (75-79 Fahrenheit) in Rankin during my stay. We don’t really get summers quite like that in Iqaluit; no wonder Rankinmiut love going out on the land so much!
As proof, here are some photos from Justin’s birthday weekend below; you can see more shots here.
Turquoise waters and bikinis; not what you expect in the Arctic, eh?