The Journal of Canadian

Wilderness Canoeing

  WINTER 2003











In this issue

Front Page


Winter Packet


From the Editor

Canoelit I

Canoelit II

Back page




Nunavik is set to claim the title of world’s highest tide from the Bay of Fundy — even though the Department of Fisheries and Oceans insists the race is too close to declare an official winner.

The Nunavik Tourism Association said it would issue a press release confirming a 16.1-metre tidal measurement at Leaf Bay, which lies just outside of Tasiujaq at the mouth of the Leaf River.

The measurement, taken on March 31, 2002, is one centimeter taller than the highest ever recorded at the Bay of Fundy. According to the Guinness Book of World-Records, the world record tide measured in at 16 metres at the Bay of Fundy in 1960.

But the Bay of Fundy coast, shared by Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, has long claimed the title of the world’s highest tide and it doesn’t look like the DFO will hand the title to Nunavik any time soon.

Nunavik has been trying to wrestle the title away from Nova Scotia for several years. In 1998, Nunavik Tourism contracted an oceanographer to perform tidal measurements in the area. The scientist set up three submersible tidal gauges near Tasiujaq, Leaf River and Radisson Island.

Though the tourism association said it had a record-breaking reading after the tests, nothing ever came of the announcement.

Though the DFO may not strip the Bay of Fundy of its coveted title, the village of Tasiujaq has no qualms about taking the crown.

“The government that released the information on the Bay of Fundy spent too much money — probably trying to protect their people,” said Willie Cain, the mayor of Tasiujaq. “But our Tasiujaq has a .1 higher measurement than the Bay of Fundy. We’ll be able to say, ‘We hold the title for the highest tide.”

Cain said having the title will help develop Tasiujaq’s economy, and the village is already considering how to market the natural wonder. “The Qallunaat have an appetite for visiting places of significance so we can expect more tourism,” Cain said.

“It’s another attraction for the region. It’s like having the world’s largest caribou heard, or having Crater Lake, which is the world’s clearest lake,” said a Nunavik Tourism official.

Inukjuak, the old Port Harrison on the east coast of Hudson Bay, is poised to become a geological hotspot after a scientific team discovered the world’s oldest volcanic rocks in a nearby cove.

Researchers from the University of Montreal, the Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources and Simon Fraser University in British Columbia discovered the rocks - estimated to be more than 3.82 billion years old - 20 miles outside Inukjuak during routine mapping last year.

But it was not until this spring, after geologists had conducted repeated tests of the rock’s radioactive isotopes to discover their precise age, that geologists recognized their find’s significance. Most volcanic rocks in the Inukjuak area are between 2.7 billion and three billion years old.The world’s oldest known volcanic rocks, discovered in the 1980s in Isua, Greenland, date back 3.82 billion years.

The Inukjuak volcanic rocks could give a little more shape to this immense puzzle. They could help geologists learn more about the formation of the Earth’s crust and mantle layers billions of years ago and they could also help determine when life on Earth started.

Before scientists discovered the Isua rocks, geologists had no proof life existed on earth 3.82 billion years ago. But the Isua rocks suggest that bacteria may have been present when the rocks first formed. If the Inukjuak rocks display similar evidence, Dr. Stevenson said, the Isua finding would be supported.

Scientists currently estimate the Earth is 4.6 billion years old. Older non-volcanic rocks have been discovered previously by geologists in the Northwest Territories. They were estimated to be 3.96 billion years old.

Nunavik’s eco-tourism industry entered a new phase of international recognition last month when one of its leading operators opened a branch in France.The Puvirnituq-based Nunavik Arctic Survival Training Centre (NASTC) quietly started business at the beginning of November in Limoges, France, four hours outside Paris.

The 100 per cent Inuit-owned outfitting company started up in 2000 with only one office in Nunavik. But foreign demand for the company’s Arctic adventures has prompted the business to expand overseas.

“We were supposed to just be a little survival centre. But we saw a lot of opportunity for what we do. There’s a lot of Nunavik tourism operators for hunters and fishers. But with eco-tourism there’s not a lot going on here. We’ll cover the French market for the whole Hudson Coast,” Mario Aubin, one of the centre’s coordinators, said in an interview.

The outfitter has made a name for itself offering dog team and snowmobile packages, helping smaller outfitters market their services and demonstrating Arctic survival skills to tourists, guides and Air Inuit pilots.

Its survival packages teach everything from basic first aid to identifying different snow textures, building igloos, recognizing the psychological effects of disorientation and foraging and hunting for food in the hostile Arctic environment.

They already have confirmed eight packages for February and four for January. He is also working on sending a group of 30 from the city of La Rochelle sometime in the spring.

The French branch will not limit itself to offering survival adventures, Tricard said. Instead, it will recruit Nunavimmiut performers to tour France and promote cultural exchanges between artists in Nunavik and France.

The Nunavik Arctic Survival Centre was founded by Air Inuit, the Puvirnituq Co-op and the village of Puvirnituq. Each made an initial investment of $5,000 for the outfitter’s development.

Aubin said the centre remains a non-profit organization for now. The tourism packages it offers are good value but costly. Six-day basic training courses are $3,900 for the flight, food, board and guide. Any profit is used to pay the centre’s 15 part-time Inuit guides, operating and marketing costs. The centre is also planning to open a branch in Korea by the end of 2003.

A new study published in October by researchers from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration predicts the unthinkable: that year-round Arctic sea-ice may vanish by the end of this century.

Their work, based on satellite data gathered between 1978 and 2000, shows that if current melt rates continue, there may be year-round sea-ice in the Arctic by 2099.

They also found that temperatures in the Arctic are rising at a rate of 1.2 C per decade, and that sea-ice is now melting at a rate that’s about nine per cent faster than shown by prior research.

"If the perennial ice cover, which consists mainly of thick multi-year ice floes, disappears, the entire Arctic Ocean climate and ecology would become very different," Josefino Comiso, the author of the study, told the Environmental News Service.

The NASA study says that the rate of sea-ice decline in the Arctic is expected to accelerate because of interactions between the ice, oceans and the atmosphere. As temperatures in the Arctic rise, the summer ice cover retreats, more solar heat gets absorbed by the ocean, and more ice gets melted by a warmer upper water layer.

In turn, this will produce more climate change in the Arctic, and around the globe. Summer sea ice reflects sunlight out to space, cooling the planet’s surface and warming the atmosphere. As the ice cover shrinks, less sunlight will be reflected, allowing the sun to warm more of the ocean.

NASA has also found more recent data that shows that this year’s perennial ice cover is the least extensive ever observed in the Arctic during the era of satellite observation.

The NASA study was published in the late October issue of the Journal Geophysical Research Letters. It was funded by NASA’s Cryospheric Sciences Program and the NASA Earth Science Enterprise/Earth Observing System Project.


Climate change is eroding the role Inuit elders play in their communities because it makes their traditional knowledge unreliable, elders told researchers at a recent workshop on global warming in Kangiqsujuaq. The overall message from Kangiqsujuaq, was the

same in Puvirnituq and Ivujivik as it was in Nain, Labrador and Tuktoyaktuk: the Arctic climate is changing and many unforeseen aspects of Inuit life are changing with it.

Napaluuk and Inuit elders across the country reported many other environmental changes at the ITK workshops.

Biting flies and robins have migrated North and are now regularly seen in Kuujjuaq. Geese once flew close enough to Ivujivik for hunters to catch but now the birds’ fall migration is too far east to hunt.

The sun is stronger and there are heat waves and the water around the community, once clear and good to drink, has become muddy and undrinkable.

Then there is the ice — the gateway to seal hunting. Every year, he said, it seems to form later in the winter and break earlier in the spring.



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