Nunavut Territory, Canada
Grise Fiord, (Inuktitut: Aujuittuq, “place that never thaws”; Inuktitut syllabics: ᐊᐅᔪᐃᑦᑐᖅ) is a small Inuit hamlet, Qikiqtaaluk Region in the territory of Nunavut, Canada. Despite its low population (141 residents as of the Canada 2006 Census), it is the largest community on Ellesmere Island. It is one of the coldest inhabited places in the world, with average yearly temperature of -16.5 Celsius.
Grise Fiord is the northernmost civilian settlement in North America, but was eclipsed by Alert as the North America’s northernmost community when Environment Canada and the Canadian Forces began to station permanent personnel there.
Located at the southern tip of Ellesmere Island, Grise Fiord is one of three permanent settlements on the island. Grise Fiord lies 1,160 km (720 mi) north of the Arctic Circle. Grise Fiord lies in the Arctic Cordillera mountain range which is the only major mountain system east of the Canadian Rockies.
The settlement (and Resolute) was created by the Canadian government in 1953, partly to assert sovereignty in the High Arctic during the Cold War. Eight Inuit families from Inukjuak, Quebec (on the Ungava Peninsula) were relocated after being promised homes and game to hunt, but the relocated people discovered no buildings and very little familiar wildlife. They were told that they would be returned home after a year if they wished, but this offer was later withdrawn as it would damage Canada’s claims to sovereignty in the area and the Inuit were forced to stay. Eventually, the Inuit learned the local beluga whale migration routes and were able to survive in the area, hunting over a range of 18,000 km² (6,950 mi²) each year.
Grise Fiord means “pig inlet” in Norwegian and was named by Otto Sverdrup from Norway during an expedition around 1900. He thought the walrus in the area sounded like pigs. Grise Fiord’s Inuktitut name is Aujuittuq which means “place that never thaws.”
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