Nunavut minister signs off on name changes for two communities

Hall Beach officially becomes Sanirajak, Cape Dorset becomes Kinngait

Nunavut’s community and government services minister has signed off on changing Cape Dorset’s name to Kinngait (pictured here) and Hall Beach’s name to Sanirajak, following the results of recent plebiscites. (File photo)

By Emma Tranter

Two Nunavut communities will officially make the switch back to their traditional names, Nunavut’s community and government services minister announced on Feb. 27.

Lorne Kusugak told the legislative assembly that he had signed off on Cape Dorset’s name change to Kinngait and Hall Beach’s change to Sanirajak that morning.

“I thank you for this opportunity as I want to state to my colleagues that earlier this morning I signed a document for two communities in Nunavut allowing them to revert to their original place names,” Kusugak said to applause from MLAs.

Under the territory’s Hamlet Act, a municipal council can make a request for a name change to the minister of community and government services.

Both Hall Beach and Cape Dorset held plebiscites in the winter of 2019 to change back to their traditional names.

“Starting now, Hall Beach will be known as Sanirajak and what was called Cape Dorset starting this morning will be called Kinngait. My colleagues, let’s celebrate with the communities of Sanirajak and Kinngait,” Kusugak said.

Joelie Kaernerk, Sanirajak’s MLA, had stood in the legislative assembly on Feb. 20 to ask Kusugak for an update on the name change.

Around 41 per voted for Kinngait in its plebiscite, while Kaernerk explained that over two-thirds of the community voted in favour of Sanirajak.

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. has encouraged municipalities in the territory that still use English names to consider a switch to their original Inuktut names.

The communities still with English names are listed below:

  • Cambridge Bay (Iqaluktuuttiaq)
  • Gjoa Haven (Uqsuqtuuq)
  • Baker Lake (Qamani’tuaq)
  • Chesterfield Inlet (Igluligaarjuk)
  • Rankin Inlet (Kangiqliniq)
  • Whale Cove (Tikirarjuaq)
  • Coral Harbour (Salliq)
  • Clyde River (Kangiqtugaapik)
  • Pond Inlet (Mittimatalik)
  • Arctic Bay (Ikpiarjuk or Tununirusiq)
  • Grise Fiord (Ausuittuq)
  • Resolute Bay (Qausuittuq)
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(21) Comments:

  1. Posted by Inuk Person on

    Congratulations to Kinngait and Sanirajak! I hope other communities will follow as well.

    There’s a misconception that Arctic Bay’s Inuktitut name, Ikpiarjuk, means ‘pocket’ in Inuktitut.

    It was explained to me that it actually means a small hill/mountain between two bodies of water. Between Arctic Bay and Victor Bay is a small ikpik, or ikpiarjuk. There’s also a land outside of Arctic Bay and that area is called Ikpikittuarjuk (same concept).

    • Posted by Ruth Paungrat on

      In our community ikpiarjuk means pocket. So it depends on the dialect or area. Or maybe what it meant many many years ago. I don’t know. I’ve only heard it as meaning pocket.

    • Posted by Piitaqanngi on

      Ikpiarjuk has several meanings. One being a pocket. The other is to denote a small bay. It is actually a name for a body of water. Ikpik is a bluff (geography) so ikpiarjuk could also mean a small bluff.

      • Posted by Tukinga on

        Ikpiarjuk is the small land mass to cross from the body of water to the other side of the water. On one side of the bay to cross the short land mass to get to the other side to the sea.

        • Posted by Piitaqanngi on

          Thanks for the clarification. So it is the land mass adjacent to the body of water.
          How about in English bay is used for bodies of water.
          Like Baffin Bay, Hudson Bay or Frobisher Bay. Those are huge bodies pf water so ikpiarjuk wouldn’t suffice as the inuktitut translation for them.
          Igloolik has a small bay, Turton Bay. It is called ikpiarjuk. Now I will know the word denotes the land mass adjacent to the bay and not the body of water.

    • Posted by Inuk Person on

      I was only referring to Arctic Bay’s Inuktitut name, Ikpiarjuk. Yes, ikpiarjuk means pocket in Inuktitut, but that’s not the meaning of Arctic Bay’s Inuktitut name. Arctic Bay’s Ikpiarjuk means small landmass between two bodies of water.

  2. Posted by Louisa Gillespie on

    Resolute Bay was known as Tudjaat, as my uncle Simeonie related to me, but because there is another tiny place also named that, they had to rename it Qausuittuq. Like me he didn’t like the name as it denotes a dark place. I would prefer it to be named something more appropriate to the pristine beauty first time visitors see.

  3. Posted by Johnny Ningeongan on

    Salliq is an Inuktitut name for Southampton Island. Coral Harbour was called Qablunaaqmiut in Inuktitut. Qablunaaqmiut means Inuit residents residing with white people.This was before more Inuit eventually moved into the community from their surrounding hunting camps. Salliq means, in front of mainland island separated by water. I stand to be corrected if I made an error!

  4. Posted by Laimiki Toonoo on

    Way before Kinngait, the area was known as Sikusilaak, elders in the other communities surrounding Kinngait would agree with me if they are asked.

  5. Posted by Lovely on

    From the old days, I remember anothet Qallunarmiut. I think it was common way to call Inuit in white settlements.
    Tutjaat is also common. Many on route islands are called that. A stepping stone on the way over to somewhere.
    And yes ipparjuk, ikpiajuk mean pockek. It also means a bluff, as in “what a nice bluff.”

  6. Posted by Kenn Harper on

    Wonderful. Now consideration should be given to correcting the spelling of places that have Inuktitut names but that are spelled incorrectly according to standard orthography (not just the new ITK one) but in Qaliujaaqpait orthography which became standard decades ago. They are Kugaaruk, Taloyoak, Kugluktuk, Pangnirtung, and Igloolik.

  7. Posted by Quvianaq on

    Quviana! I am happy we are starting to change back to the names before, also before the youth starts to forget these names when we are long gone.
    I agree with Ken too, we need proper way of spelling not the mistaken ones from long ago when there was really no rules or understanding of proper way of spelling.
    We should be proud to reclaim our Inuktitut names.

  8. Posted by Johnny Ningeongan on

    There was a community survey done some years back asking residents of Coral Harbour if they wanted to change the name to Salliq. Majority of the residents did not want change mainly because Salliq is an Inukitut name for Southampton Island, as mentioned in my earlier comment. Coral Harbour got it’s name because of coral found on the ocean floor in the vicinity of the community. I for one, would not be crazy about changing Coral Harbour to Qablunaaqmiut! Maybe there is an Inuktitut name for coral?

  9. Posted by Tom on

    Johnny, it seems like most people of Coral has adapted the name Salliq to mean the town of Coral, the community would have to discuss this further and clarify the name.
    Same with other communities and some are easier to change back to the original names.

  10. Posted by Johnny Ningeongan on

    Even if most people as “Tom” says have adopted the name Salliq to mean Coral. That does not make it right though!

    • Posted by Tom on

      That’s why the community needs to discuss this and come to an agreement.

  11. Posted by Johnny Ningeongan on

    This mysterious “Tom” still does not understand that the community made the decision to remain with Coral Harbour! What he is suggesting was already done!

    • Posted by Tom on

      I think you need to chill a little and relax, maybe another time when the other communities start to change back to their original names Coral can revisit that.
      Best of luck In whatever the community may decide down the road.

      Congratulations to the communities that reclaimed their names.

  12. Posted by Johnny Ningeongan on

    One thing is for sure, it will be up to Coral residents to make that decision. Perhaps you’re the one that needs to chill and relax, it seems you are talking about how we should go about our business! Thanks for your utmost interest!

    • Posted by Tom on

      I agree with you, it will be up to the community and for the community to discuss this further.

  13. Posted by Johnny Ningeongan on

    Only if the need arises. For now Coral Harbour it is! 🤫

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