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Summer is a time for fun - ecpecially for the kids, Marlowe Kapolak, Lance Akoluk, Bernice Kapolak, Henry Haniliak, Ohokmik Akoluk.

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The Arviat Health Centre light shines into the long winter night.

Nunavut 101

Nunavut (means "our land" in the Inuit language) became Canada's third and newest territory on April 1, 1999. The Territory spans two million square kilometres and covers one-fifth of Canada's total landmass. The capital, Iqaluit (formerly Frobisher Bay), is located on the southeastern end of Baffin Island and has approximately 7,000 residents

There are 25 communities in Nunavut, located across three time zones. The territory is divided into three regions: the Baffin, which consists of 13 communities; the Kivalliq, which consists of seven communities; and the Kitikmeot, which consists of five communities. The population was 31,113 as of July 1, 2007.
Approximately 53 percent of the population is under the age of 25 years. Nunavut has three official languages – the Inuit language, English and French. Inuit make up about 85 percent of Nunavut's population. There is a small French-speaking population of about 5 percent residing on Baffin Island, predominantly in the capital city of Iqaluit.

Nunavut also has the youngest population in Canada with the median age being approximately 22 years.
Nunavut is cold much of the year. Snow is possible, even in the summer. In Iqaluit, located less than 320 kilometers from the Arctic Circle, summertime highs average around 11C with winter highs ranging from -26C to -33C. In winter the night sky shimmers with the nightly dance of the Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights.
The territory is home to a large variety of wildlife: muskox and herds of caribou can be found on the mainland tundra along with grizzlies and many smaller animals. On the sea edge polar bears roam the ice floes in search of seals and walruses. Whales swim in the icy waters and many species of birds migrate to the Arctic in summer.

Community Services

Most Nunavut communities are isolated geographically and are accessible only by air and sea. Each community has airline service, although it can be expensive. Traveling in and out of Nunavut often requires multiple flights, and overnight stop-overs are not uncommon.

The Northern Stores and/or the local Co-op stores serve all communities. Food, household supplies and personal care products are more expensive than in the “south”. The Internet, which is available in all of the communities, helps to reduce the isolation and brings a world of mail-order products to consumers.

There are alternatives to local food shopping. Both food mail and sealift orders are used by many residents. Food Mail is a program whereby perishable and some non-perishable food items are shipped in at a reduced rate from larger areas such as Winnipeg, Ottawa or Yellowknife. All Food Mail orders have to be prepaid. Sealifts, or barge orders, allow canned, dry and frozen food to be shipped into communities during the summer.

Internet banking is available in all Nunavut communities. Major banks have branches in Cambridge Bay (Royal Bank), Iqaluit (CIBC and Royal Bank) and Rankin Inlet (CIBC and Royal Bank). Most communities have ATM machines at the local Northern Store and/or the Co-op. Credit cards are accepted by many, but not all, stores and services.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) provides policing services in every community in Nunavut. Many communities also employ a local by-law officer(s) to enforce local by-laws.

Elementary and senior high schools are located in each community. Francophone language schools (elementary and junior high) are currently available only in Iqaluit.

Weather

Nunavut is a huge territory and the weather can vary widely. As a rule, inland areas are warmer in July and August than coastal regions and the western regions are warmer than Baffin Island.

Spring temperatures are more consistent throughout Nunavut with average daytime highs between –20C and –10C. Cool days are tempered by sunshine. From late March to the end of May the sun reflected off the snow and ice is strong enough that “sun block” is recommended.

Be prepared for shorter days and cold temperatures in the winter. The further north one goes, the shorter the winter days get. Communities north of the Arctic Circle do not see the sun for extended periods at a time. Conversely, during the summer the further north you go the more 24 hours of daylight you experience.

Low humidity reduces the impact of the cold, making a –20C day feel like –5C in southern Canada. January through March are the coldest months. Wind chill factors are often more significant than the actual air temperature.

Much of the Arctic is classified as a polar desert in terms of humidity. There are long stretches of dry, cloudless days without precipitation. Northern communities get far less snow than many larger southern centers.

Throughout most of the territory, cool spring temperatures mean that snow cover generally does not finish melting until June. For most of Nunavut, the only months without snow are late June, July and August. Sea ice melts later. Most rain falls after the sea ice breaks-up, usually between mid-July and the end of August.

Blizzards are common in October and November and February through April.

Most communities experience up to 24 hours of daylight from May through August, and up to 24 hours of darkness from November through February. In the late spring and summer months, the continuous daylight can affect people’s sleep habits. Many people cover their bedroom windows or sleep with eye masks. Conversely, in the winter some people are affected by the lack of light. Light therapy lamps help.