Episode 2.12

The team heads north to Iqaluit, and onwards from there to the remote, rocky island of Qaummaarviit to excavate the traditional whalebone winter house that would have been home to the ancestors of Inookie Adamie, Iqaluit’s oldest elder and the traditional steward of Qaummaarviit. Inuit led, this is indigenous archaeology in action. It’s also Wild Archaeology at its wildest – the team will be completely off the grid and stranded by the tides in the far north.

The Raven and the Whale

Raven learns that everything alive has a heart and soul. Narrated in Inuktitut South Baffin dialect by Atiigo Media

Iqaluit: Place of Many Fish

The team arrives in Iqaluit, the capital city of Nunavut. A traditional fishing location used for thousands of years, the word Iqaluit means “place of many fish” in Inuktitut. Iqaluit has a population of just under 8000 people, and 60% of the city’s population is Inuit. Nunavut has 3 official languages (Inuktut, English, and French), and 53% of the population speaks Inuktitut.

Although south of the arctic circle, Iqaluit’s polar climate is influenced by the deep, cold waters of the Labrador current just off Baffin Island. August in Iqaluit means long days and short nights. With temperatures ranging from 4-11 degrees celsius, the team will need to dress warmly, especially on the windy arctic waters of Frobisher Bay.

“As an archaeologist I instantly noticed the cut lines where they butchered the whale and that was really interesting to see.”

– Dr. Rudy Reimer

In Iqaluit: Northern Art

Iqaluit has more artists per capita than anywhere else in Canada, and the city is home to a large number of galleries featuring a variety of modern and traditional northern art.


Torsten brings the team to Apex, an Inuit community traditionally known as Niaqunngut. A short drive from the city centre, Apex boasts stunning views of the bay and surrounding area, which has some of the largest tides in the world. After admiring the incredible view of shifting tides from the old Hudson’s Bay Company buildings along the beach, Rudy, Jen and Jacob hike to the park and cemetery, it’s entrance marked by an arch of bowhead whale bones.

Qaggiavuut – Reclaiming Traditional Stories and Songs 

Qaggiavuut House is dedicated to strengthening and promoting Inuit performing arts. In addition to contemporary music and theatre, they focus on decolonizing the arts and revitalizing traditional Inuit drumming and storytelling.

The Qaggiavuut musicians have just completed a workshop focused on reclaiming traditional songs that were banned during colonization. Elders from ten different communities gathered together for five days to share their songs and stories with young Qaggiavuut musicians.

“I think it’s just a real good thing to see, that these songs are being revitalized after being outlawed for so long due to colonialism.”

– Jacob Pratt

Qaummaarviit, ‘The Place That Shines’ 

The island of Qaummaarviit is small and rocky, measuring about a quarter of a square kilometre. The rocky landscape of the island is broken up by lush tundra vegetation and the remains of 11 semi-buried whalebone winter houses.

The team is here to help excavate the traditional whalebone winter house (qammaq) that was once home to Inookie and Naulaq Adamie’s ancestors. Inookie Adamie is the traditional steward of Qaummaarviit and Iqaluit’s oldest elder. Naulaq is his son – the future traditional steward of Qaummaarviit and this year’s whaling captain.

Torsten briefs the team on wildlife safety and conservation practices for the tundra landscape: Rudy, Jen and Jacob will need to stick to designated walkways to protect the delicate flora of the tundra, and take care to not stray too far from the hunters and archaeologists for safety.

Qaummaarviit becomes very small at high tide, and the team will have to camp on a separate small island nearby with Naulaq and his family. At low tide, they will be able to walk across a land bridge to reach the excavation site. At high tide, they’ll need the help of local hunters and their boats to travel between islands.