Page 40 - Inuvik
P. 40

Ikaahuk – “Place to which you cross” (867) 690-4351
Population: 128
Our northernmost community, this tiny Inuvialuit settlement is the only outpost on Banks Island, Canada’s fifth largest. The island is home to more than half the world’s muskoxen, plus Aulavik National Park, the epic Thomsen River, bird sanctuaries, the famed HMS Investigator shipwreck, and, possibly, a few “pizzlies” – hybrid polar bear/grizzlies like the one that was identified here in 2006. Access is by air from Inuvik.
 Inuvik was conceived by the Canadian government in 1953. It was intended to replace the hamlet of Aklavik in the Mackenzie Delta, which was subject to flooding and offered limited space for expansion.
Originally the community was designated “East Three” by the survey parties who spread over the Mackenzie Delta searching for town site locations. Of six sites on the west side and six on the east side, East Three was chosen for its large flat area, navigable waterway, tree cover and gravel supply.
The community was first named “New Aklavik” to reflect the transfer of facilities from Aklavik. This caused confusion for the delivery of mail and supplies, so the name”Inuvik” was selected in 1958. In Inuvialuktun it means “place of people.”
The years 1964 to 1970 were a period of adjustment as residents adapted to life in the new community. In April, 1967, Inuvik achieved village status, and in January 1970 it became a town with an elected mayor and council. And with completion of the Dempster Highway in 1979, Inuvik became part of the Canadian highway system.
Petroleum exploration in the Mackenzie Valley and Beaufort Sea provided tremendous employment and business opportunities in the region beginning in 1971. These activities continued until 1990 when petroleum companies decided to pull out because of disappearing government subsidies, low gas and oil prices, and local resistance to resource development. Since 1999, oil and gas companies have once again begun to explore for natural gas.
During the time that multi-national corporations were busy tapping petroleum resources in the Mackenzie Delta, indigenous organizations were gaining the leverage they needed to settle their land claims with the Canadian government. The Inuvialuit claim was settled in 1984 and the Gwich’in claim in 1992. Inuvik is home to members and organizations of both groups.
Source: Canada’s Western Arctic (Handbook)

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