Northern life and Inuit culture

Northern life and Inuit culture


UMIUJAQ means "hill that looks like an umiaq"(1). The village of Umiujaq is located in a region where there are many animals; there are places to hunt caribou, beluga and seal, as well as places to fish. Ptarmigan and other birds and animals also live there. Even though the village of Umiujaq is quite recent, it is very pleasant because it has remained much as it always was and the traditional ways are still practiced there. The air is pure and free of dust, which means one can see a long way. Umiujaq has a population of 383 Inuit (in 2006). The view of the nearby islands is magnificent; these steep-cliffed islands run along the coast from Inukjuak to Kuujjuaraapik.


The northern Inuit village of Umiujaq is located on the east coast of Hudson Bay, on a 12 kilometer long peninsula that separates the Strait of Nastapoka from Guillaume Delisle Lake, 160 kilometers north of Kuujjuarapik. The territory of Umiujaq, designated as Category 1 land, is comprised of 570.5 square kilometers. The surface area of the territory and the rights attached to it are defined by the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement.

Principal access to Umiujaq is by airplane.


With accessibility to both a fresh water lake and Hudson Bay, Umiujaq is a site that has a lot of advantages for the practice of traditional Inuit hunting and fishing. This characteristic was important when the authorities of Nunavik chose the region for the creation of a new northern village. Planned from the signing of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, construction of the village was completed in 1986. The community is made up of Inuit who had been living in Kuujjuarapik. The Inuit expression "umiujak" has a few meanings and can be translated as "one who looks like bread", "one who looks like an upside-down boat", or "one who looks like a beard". The principal languages spoken in the community are Inuktitut and English.


Local administration is assured by the municipal council of Umiujaq, established by the Northern Village Corporation. The Northern Village of Umiujaq council is part of the Kativik Regional Authority.


Traditional hunting and fishing are the principal economic activities in the community of Umiujaq. The local cooperative store is active in retail sales, arts and crafts production, and tourism.


There is a hotel in the community, administered by the Federation of Inuit Co-operation of New-Quebec. Umiujaq has a community radio station : Umiujaq FM, 99.5 MHz.

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(1). A large boat made of seal or walrus skins, usually handled by women. It was used to transport the dogs, together with the tents and other equipment, during changes of camp, and was also sometimes used for hunting. Actually, Umiujaq was originally called Umiujuq, which means a capsized umiaq. This refers to a prominent hill in the area, which looks like a capsized umiaq from a distance. From the same vantage point, the capsized umiaq also looks as though it is in the water. Hence the name.