You may have heard of the Nunavut community “Cape Dorset”, but we bet you haven’t heard of Kinngait. That’s because in December of 2019, the community voted to rename Cape Dorset back its traditional Inuktitut name Kinngait, meaning “where the hills are”.
While the name has changed, Kinngait is still a bustling community, and one of the top destinations for Nunavut travelers. Known as the “Capital of Inuit Art”, this small town offers a lot to see and do.
A snow covered view of Kinngait.
1. Life on the land
When you’re in Nunavut, you’ll hear us talk about getting out “on the land” a lot. For Nunavummiut spending time outdoors is why we stay. The land in all its splendor and
adventure is integral to our culture, identity, and way of life. It is both where we heal, and where we grow.
You can learn all about this through Huit Huit Tours culture camps. Spend your days camping, boating, fishing, and learning about Inuit culture, and how the Arctic can breathe life and learning into you.
An archeological Thule House site at Mallikjuaq Territorial Park.
Just across the strait is Mallikjuaq Territorial Park, home to Inuit archeological sites that tell the story of our people. These sites include ancient camp circles, and stone structures dating back thousands of years. But in more recent history, you can explore the remains of a Thule House (a round tent-like structure made from whale bones), and ancient animal traps. If you stay in town long enough, you’re also sure to be told a story or two from the locals.
If you’re the type that likes the outdoors, but prefers to sleep on a mattress at night, Kinngait still has plenty of day trips to offer. The hills that the hamlet is named after are accessible from town. This hike offers panoramic views of the town, and the landscape. If you’re travelling in the summer months, you may be able to spot our territorial flower: the purple saxifrage. Don’t forget your camera for some amazing photos.
Spirit Bird, by Kenojuak, 1971, Cape Dorset Community, Stonecut.
4. See Art
Kinngait is home to world-famous studios and gallery spaces that feature conic Inuit artists such as: Kenojoak Ashevak, Pitseolak Ashoona, Annie Pootoogook, Peter Pitseolak, and many more. The “Cape Dorset Style” is a traditional art genre made famous in the mid-twentieth century for its iconic depiction of traditional Nunavut landscape, animals, and people. “Cape Dorset Art” is today found in major galleries around the globe, this is the community where it all began.
5. Make or Buy Art
While the studio hours vary from season to season, it’s a good plan to call ahead and see if there are any workshops or demonstrations being offered during your stay. What better way to learn more about this iconic art style than trying it yourself. However from experience, the talent and patience of these Inuit carvers is utterly remarkable.
And of course, if no workshops are being offered, there is plenty of authentic art to buy. Your purchase supports the community, and the preservation of the Kinngait arts - and is probably the most beautiful travel souvenir you can bring home.
Explore more about Kinngait, and how to make it your next destination.