First regional visitor centre opens in Rankin Inlet
Nunavut premier does inaugural ribbon cutting in Kivalliq region
Less than two days after becoming Nunavut’s new premier, Arviat’s Joe Savikataaq was already cutting ribbons in an official capacity when he visited Rankin Inlet to mark the opening of the Kivalliq Regional Visitor Centre.
Since he’s also Nunavut’s first Kivalliq premier, it was a fitting job for him.
“I’m happy I was able to come here and open (the centre)—very happy to open it as my first function as premier,” Savikataaq told Nunatsiaq News.
The $3.8-million territorially funded building, which will employ three staff members, is a step up from the kiosk at the Rankin Inlet airport that the community’s visitor centre used to be run out of.
Rankin Inlet is a hub for flights in and out of Nunavut for anyone travelling into the Kivalliq, or through to western or eastern Nunavut. That means many tourists and business travellers who visit the Kivalliq will have to spend at least a layover in Rankin Inlet.
The centre’s location, only a few minutes from the airport, makes it easy to get to for those people.
But the new cultural centre is meant for all Kivalliq communities.
“It’s a regional visitors centre, so they’ll have displays and information from all of the communities in the Kivalliq,” Savikataaq said. “The tourism outfitters or the carvers, or other people in the tourism industry can have their pamphlets or information available at the centre. It’s going to be quite helpful.”
A gift shop run by the Nunavut Development Corp. will also sell arts and crafts from across the region.
The premier was set to visit the centre opening in his previous roles as the minister of economic development and transportation and the minister responsible for tourism. But that was before he was chosen to lead the Nunavut government, following the ousting of previous premier Paul Quassa.
Savikataaq said he was quite taken with the Arctic animal display at the visitor centre, which boasts a taxidermied polar bear, caribou, muskox and some ptarmigan.
He also thanked elder Monica Ugjuk for lighting the qulliq and sharing “words of wisdom” with attendees.
“It’s beautiful. It is well planned out, well laid out, it’s a really nice place,” Savikataaq said of the centre. “The space is adaptable. It’s going to showcase all of the communities.”
The centre, which can hold up to 50 people, has lots of windows and high ceilings with pine beams.
Exhibits are featured in seven glass display cases. Those currently hold artwork from the seven communities in Nunavut’s Kivalliq region, including a sculpture by Paul Malliki of Repulse Bay and dolls by Rankin Inlet’s Helen Iguptaq. The community of Chesterfield Inlet contributed replica qajaqs.
Now that the centre is officially open, staff are looking to plan events for the community as well as visitors, said Bernadette Niviatsiak, who manages visitor centres in Nunavut.
The community will look to create within the centre a small library of culturally and historically relevant books and videos, which could also be shown during movie nights.
The new space could also host an after-school program, and an online marketing workshop for artists and photographers is being organized.
Later in the year, working with Calgary’s Glenbow Museum, the centre will host a photography collection from the early 1900s by the artist Geraldine Moodie.
Savikataaq’s advice for tourism expansion in Nunavut is for artists and outfitters to keep an eye out for where the market is, and offer related services.
In the recent sitting of the legislature he announced a new set of marine tourism rules that the Government of Nunavut will expect visitors to respect.