Arctic Bay, July 1984
Photograph by Jill Oakes

  • top frame 
  • Ulayok Kaviok hunting seal in Arviat
  • Magnifying Glass

Ulayok Kaviok hunting seal in Arviat.
Photograph by Jill Oakes

The Land

In summer we have 24 hours of daylight, in winter 24 hours of darkness. There are mountainous coastlines and vast flat lowlands. Some groups are dependant primarily on seals, others on caribou. Although we have snow, the area is largely desert. It is a land that has sustained a rich relationship between culture and environment.
Jennie Lennie, Sarah Ovatuatia Philip and Sally Qimmiu'naaq Webster, 1995

The Canadian Arctic is a region that is defined by its extremes; in climate, temperature and the availability of wildlife. The tundra varies from treeless mountains in the east to the rocky outcrops and bogs of the Central Arctic. The common feature, however, is the permafrost which can range in thickness from tens to hundreds of meters thick. The High Arctic is a polar desert that receives less than 25cm of precipitation a year. Due to this dryness, there is very little vegetation and very few land animals. Inuit who live here stay on the coastal edges and depend upon marine mammals and birds. The Low Arctic receives more precipitation and therefore has a broader cover of grasses, mosses and shrubs which support animals like caribou, musk ox, wolf and fox. This more moderate environment allows the Inuit in this region a more varied way of life.