• Francias
  • Inuktitut
  • Inuinnaqtun
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mallikjuaq

Features

A series of rocky islands and inlets - richly colourful in summer, cold and starkly beautiful in winter - rise out of Hudson Strait on the southwest coast of Baffin Island. Two large islands forming Mallikjuaq Park face each other across a narrow inlet. Dorset Island shelters the thriving Inuit community of Cape Dorset, its thousand inhabitants renowned for their art. Across the inlet lies Mallikjuaq Island, unchanged for centuries, its small rocky mountains and sweeping tundra slopes harbouring clues to lives long past found in a number of archaeological sites dating back as far as three millennia.

On Mallikjuaq, the landscape has been imprinted with the stories of northern peoples; Thule from 1000 years ago, Inuit from 100 years ago, and local residents from only a generation ago. A hike through the park will pass by the shapes of an old Thule house, a fox trap or an Inukshuk in the stone, or the bones of caribou or beluga whales hunted on and around the island - artifacts from each of these periods.

About 1,000 years ago, the people of the Thule culture lived on Mallikjuaq in low, stone houses framed with whalebone ribs and covered with hides and sod. The east arm of the island boasts the remains of nine winter houses with stone foundations still in place. Scattered throughout the area are the bones of whales, seals and walruses, a vital resource for the Thule. Archaeological evidence indicates that people from the Dorset culture - predecessor of the Thule - also inhabited the island. The point of access to these winter houses is the southeast shore of Mallikjuaq Island. From the beach, a walk on to the tundra toward a large pond leads to where the houses are.

The northwest coast of Mallikjuaq Island boasts a number of more contemporary, though no less interesting, stone features. Tent rings, fireplaces and meat caches here date back between 50 and 200 years. The ingenuity of arctic inhabitants is illustrated by the many self-supporting stone structures they created, such as kayak stands and inuksuit (rocks piled on top of each in the shape of humans). Other stone piles here represent fox traps and burial sites. Local Inuit elders ask visitors to respect their heritage by not disturbing the sites, which are currently protected under Nunavut's legislation.