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Geographic location



the very large bay

Kangiqsualujjuaq[1] is one of the 14 Northern Villages of Nunavik in Northern Quebec. "The very large bay", in Inuktitut, communicates the true proximity that the local residents, the Kangiqsualujjuamiut, have to the Ungava Bay.

Precisely located at 58.6833°N and 65.9500°W, Kangiqsualujjuaq is the easternmost Inuit community in Nunavik. The village sits on the shores of the George River, about 30km from the stream’s mouth. It was, for a time, named for the river. The official boundaries of the community (Category 2 lands) set its size to 35,64 km2 and encompass many hills, ponds and lakes. As of 2016, 942 people inhabited Kangiqsualujjuaq[2].

This proximity to land and water helps to grasp the Inuit’s highly significant relation to the territory. Hunting, trapping, fishing and berry picking are the predominant activities conducted outside the village. In fact, Kangiqsualujjuaq is widely renowned for Arctic char fishing. Inside the village, arts and crafts knowledge inherited from the millennial Inuit culture remains a strong source of community pride.


Kangiqsualujjuaq's geographical location

(Google Maps, 2020)

(Beaudoin, 2019 ; Trottier, 2020)

Brief history

A brief history of the village

Kangiqsualujjuaq's landscapes

(Beaudoin, 2019 ; Trottier, 2020)

(Savoie, 1967)


The first data regarding the village dates from 1967. By then, the Hudson Bay Company trading post had already been closed and the first federal government prefabricated houses were built. The school and a landing strip were also already set within the landscape.


(Jamieson, 1999)


Almost 20 years later, the form of Kangiqsualujjuaq is totally changed. Houses and services are reorganised around the newly opened streets. The western side of the village, narrowed by an abrupt hill, is developed at a fast pace. The school is also set on this same location.

(Jamieson, 1999)


On January 1st 1999, an avalanche hits the western side of the village during the New Year’s celebrations. The school gymnasium is totally destroyed. Tragically, 9 people die and 25 others are injured. To ensure that no such tragedy ever happens again, the community deems the whole site "unbuildable". All infrastructures located by the cliff are relocated. A new school is built, the old one being renovated into a 17-units building. To this day, the avalanche site stands almost empty but remains a place of great significance for the residents.


(Germain, 2013)


A lot happens between 1984 and 2004. The village is denser as many new community buildings are implemented within a well-defined streets network. New houses are built on the eastern side, next to the new power plant. The airport is also moved back a couple of kilometers to the North, leaving more space for future development around the village core.


(Mathyssen, n.d.)


In the years that followed, a new residential street is built in the northern sector of Kangiqsualujjuaq, close to where the old landing strip once stood. New houses are built along the eastern road, as well as the new interpretation center for Nunavik Parks.

Community overview

Community overview


Albeit their small population, Northern Villages benefit from a great number of community services and buildings to provide basic needs. These range from food stores and water management, to sports and leisure installations. The majority of community buildings, such as the coop store, the community center and the arena, are located in the core of the village which is a constantly busy sector. See the map of services (Figure 1).


Fig. 1. Land-use and services available in Kangiqsualujjuaq


As of 2016, there were 942 Kangiqsualujjuamiut living in the village[3]. The current demographic expansion is important, with an average increase of approximately 9% every five years (see Figure 4). This causes a great pressure on the housing stock. In fact, dwellings are often overcrowded with an average of 4,7 people per house[4].

While the gender ratio is almost 50-50, the age distribution does not follow the same pattern. Kangiqsualujjuaq’s population is extremely young, with over half the residents aged under 24.


Fig. 2. Gender distribution

(Statistics Canada, 2016)

Fig.3. Age distribution

(Statistics Canada, 2016)


Fig. 4. Population growth

(Statistics Canada, 2016)


The economy of Northern Villages greatly differs from the Southern model. Indeed, it is composed of two parallel and complementary economic systems: a subsistence economy and a market or more standard economy.

Subsistence economy includes every activity not resulting in monetary gain or compensation, but rather in resource gathering and trade. Hunting, fishing, trapping and berry picking are the most common of such activities. In contrast, market economy works just like it does in the South, whereby people exchange their time and expertise for money. If some people choose to devote their time to only one of those two systems, most organize their time according to both.

Market economy in Kangiqsualujjuaq can count on many employment sectors, the most important being public administration (25%), healthcare & social assistance (24%), educational services (15%) and retail (13%)[5]. Other smaller sectors are detailed in Figure 5.


Fig. 5. Main economic activities by proportion of employment

(KRG, 2015)


The relative compactness of the village makes the inhabitants prone to choose walking as their principal mode of travel. The 2016 Census shows that, for home-to-work travels only, 57% of the Kangiqsualujjuamiut opted for walking, whilst the 43% used cars, bus or other modes such as snowmobiles, ATVs or other[6]. A more detailed portrait is presented in Figure 6.

As is the case of all Nunavik Northern Villages, mobility does not only take place in the streets. Other paths and shortcuts are used daily and all-year round, even more so in wintertime with snowmobiles (see Figure 7). Such varied access and widely used paths have to be taken into consideration in planning and design processes.


Fig. 6. Main mode of commuting for the employed labour force

(Statistics Canada, 2016)


Fig. 7. Wintertime mobility 

(Trottier, 2020)


The Northern bioclimatic regions are characterized in part by the (quasi) omnipresence of permafrost, which in the context of climate change translates into considerable challenges in planning and construction alike.


On the one hand, organizations in charge of planning rely on rigorous and in-depth analyses of the permafrost data to figure out the most secure and stable locations for future development. On the other hand, construction companies must use different foundations types than those in the South (mainly adjustable posts on granular pads). Such forethought is essential to ensure the long-term durability of any building in Nunavik.

Figure 8 shows how much soil stability varies within a territory of just a few kilometers. You can also notice how new development areas (in green on the map) have been carefully selected to fit inside more stable areas.

Carte des sols-01-01.jpg
Carte des sols-01-01.jpg

Fig. 8. Building land map

(CEN, 2019)


Kangiqsualujjuaq is a community swarming with life and possibilities. However, mostly due to the huge climate variability that occurs within a given year, some of the main activities are only accessible during very specific periods of time. The calendar below (Figure 9) dares not pretend to show every single activity conducted in the village. It rather aims to demonstrate how life in the community benefits from a "symbiotic" relation with the changing seasons and their rhythm.


Fig. 9. The community life follows the rhythm of the seasons

Sources cited on this page

[1] Gerardin, Duchaine & KRG, 2015. All data and information presented on this page have been taken from this Background Report, unless specified otherwise.

[2] [3] [4] [5] [6] Statistics Canada, 2016

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