Nunavut’s southern-most community, Sanikiluaq is located on Flaherty Island, one of the islands that form the archipelago of Belcher Islands. The community’s name comes from a legendary Inuk figure, Sandy Kiluaq. He was an exceptional hunter and provider in the region – a hero to his community in hard times.
Flaherty Island is named after Robert Joseph Flaherty who arrived in 1913 on a prospecting expedition. Flaherty brought along a movie camera and left with a documentary of Inuit life told in over 30,000 feet of film. While this footage was destroyed in a fire, he recreated the story with footage filmed in 1920 in his documentary film, ‘Nanook of the North’..
To walk around this picturesque little community, you will see the deep connection that the community has with the land and the ocean. See hunters returning with seals and birds and artists working outside their homes in the summer.
Sanikiluaq has been occupied by Inuit since 500 BC and there are numerous archeological sites scattered throughout the area. The first European contact was in 1610 when Henry Hudson sailed through the islands.. You can step back in time through Sanikiluaq history by exploring these many archeological sites. Local guides will tell you the stories of how their ancestors settled this remote community and adapted to the environment around them.
Local Inuit are closely tied with the Inuit of Nunavik (Northern Quebec) and many cultural and trade links continue to this day. Sanikiluaq, while as island, has a physical link with the Quebec mainland when the ice forms. Local Inuit have learned to adapt as caribou can completely disappear across the ice bridge when they migrate to the mainland. When the herds of caribou become scarce, the Inuit instead make parkas and clothing out of eider ducks for trade.