Our community, Grise Fiord, is home to 150 residents. We're mainly Inuit, with family names like Akeeagok, Ningiuk, Pijamini, Kiguktak or Audlaluk, and we're Canada's most northerly citizens. Living on the frontier of Nunavut, the Inuit-majority Arctic territory, we take pride in supporting Canada's claim to the High Arctic region.
In Grise Fiord, we speak our native language, Inuktitut, and our children only learn English as a second language when they start school. Inuktitut is a very different language from English, but it's easy to pronounce- try saying siku (ice), nuna (land) or nanuk (polar bear). No matter what language you speak, remember that smiles and handshakes are our treasured greetings- and soon you will know everyone in our tiny, close-knit community.
In Inuktitut, we call Grise Fiord "the place that never thaws out" or Aujuittuq. Our community owes the name Grise Fiord to the Norwegian explorer Otto Sverdrup, who charted the southern and eastern coasts of Ellesmere Island from 1899 to 1903. Sverdrup called this bay Grise Fiord, which means "pig fiord" in Norwegian because the sounds made by the many walrus here reminded him of the grunting of pigs!
Our traditions are still very much alive today- sewing, carving, singing and drum dancing reflect the Inuit way of life, which enabled our people to survive in the Arctic. Our ancestors first came across the Bering Strait from Asia 4,500 years ago, and spread across the Arctic to hunt whales, seal, polar bears, and musk ox.
We still hunt, and we fish, but you will also find us in school and at work in stores and offices, equally at ease behind a computer or out on the land. But, as in the past, our culture, language and sense of community unite us. When you are in Grise Fiord, we'll welcome you to share in our daily activities- and, at our celebrations, games and dances are open to all.