Arviat

Arviat, Nunavut

Located on the western shores of Hudson’s Bay, Arviat has become the premier destination for viewing Nunavut’s treasured wildlife. In Inuktitut, Arviat means ‘place of the bowhead whale’. Arviat is also reknown for caribou, beluga whales, bird watching, and polar bears. 

Every fall, hundreds of polar bear gather along the shores of Arviat, waiting for the ice to form to make their winter march onto the sea in search of food. The community’s residents are happy to share their wisdom and knowledge, having accumulated thousands of years of experience with these majestic animals. Some essential Arviat experiences include:

  • Wildlife through the seasons: migrating Qamanirjuaq caribou herd, traversing polar bears in the fall, beluga and bowhead whales in the summer and fall
  • McConnell River Migratory Bird Sanctuary – tundra swans, snowy owls and more (click to McConnell River Migratory Bird Sanctuary here)
  • Inuit culture, arts and traditions

Arviat is located in the southern Kivalliq region and is currently one of Nunavut’s fastest growing communities. Modern Arviat has its roots in the 1920’s with the establishment of Hudson’s Bay Company trading post, quickly followed by the opening of Roman Catholic and Anglican Church missions.

From season to season, venturing across the land by snowmobile and ski is a great way to see the abundance of wildlife in the region. Polar bears traverse in and around the community during the fall. Nearby, the McConnell River Migratory Bird Sanctuary is a nesting spot for geese, swans, loons, snowy owls, peregrine falcons, and gyrfalcons. As well, vast numbers of beluga whales join the bowhead whales in the nearby waters in the summer and fall. Farther inland the largest known caribou herd, the Qamanirjuaq, estimated at 264,000 in 2015, migrate between summer and winter.

Today, Arviat is known as a cultural centre of the territory, with strong links to its language and culture. It is possible for you to meet many of the direct descendants of the people described in Farley Mowat’s famous books about the region. Their stories leave you spellbound, their abilities on the land will leave you amazed. 

Arviat is home to many famous carvers and artists. Arts and crafts plays a major role in both the economic and cultural fabric of Arviat. When you walk around the community in the summertime, you can often see local artisans at work.