Monday, August 18, 2008

Resolute, Nunavut

Since I find myself with some extra time here I thought I would share with you a little northern history of this community. I first visited Resolute in August 2003 when I transfered to Arctic Bay from Qikiqtarjuaq (Broughton Island). At the moment I'm getting an extended stay due to some rather uncooperative weather. Resolute Bay was created in 1947 as a military base and meteorological station. In 1953, in a bid to bolster its northern sovereignty claims and "civilize" the Inuit, the Canadian government relocated a small number of Inuit families from Inukjuak (now Port Harrison) in Northern Quebec and Pond Inlet on Baffin Island. The results of this social experiment were contentious at the time and remain so today. Traditional skills were slowly eroded as the Inuit families here became increasingly dependent on government support. (A great deal has been written of this episode but since I'm putting this post together off the top of my head, I will leave that whole debate for the time being.)

Today, Resolute serves as a jumping-off point for researchers and explorers heading to Ellesmere Island and the North Pole. The 215-foot gravel runway allows for jets and other large military aircraft to land safely and refuel in a region where airports and gas stations are few and far between. The airport lies just a few kilometres from the community itself and is littered with the remains of defunct vehicles, hangars and other out-buildings.

In August 2007, the Canadian Government announced plans to construct a 100-man army training centre (along with a deep-sea port at Nanisivik) to strengthen its claim to the arctic and aid efforts with research and search-and-rescue. With a current population of approximately 229, Resolute has 3 hotels, a small school (renovated in 2003-2004), a 2-member RCMP detachment, and other logistical services to support scientific ventures and resource exploration.

Excluding things like research stations, abandoned settlements and the like, this is currently the eighth-most northern permanently inhabited civilian settlement on the planet, and the second-most civilian settlement in North America, sitting at 74.41 degrees North. The community's name comes from the HMS Resolute, part of an 1852 expedition searching for the lost Franklin Expedition.

It is also one of the coldest inhabited places in the world. Snow can occur during any month of the year. In fact, we've picked up 3-4cm of it over the past 24 hours. (Pictures will hopefully follow once I am able to return home to Arctic Bay.)


Matt, Kara and Hunter said...

Okay, you are killing me here!!! Who is up there that we know!!!