Pelly Bay officially changes its name to Kugaaruk



IQALUIT— The hamlet formerly known as Pelly Bay has a new name.

Kugaaruk, the new moniker for the east Kitikmeot hamlet, was chosen in a plebiscite during municipal elections last year.

After a year of waiting and one false start this spring, the hamlet’s name change was officially announced Tuesday in a territorial government press release.

“Obviously we are quite pleased that everything has gone through,” said Quinn Taggart, Kugaaruk’s new SAO. The name change was the end of a long and sometimes frustrating road, said Taggart.

In the spring, Peter Irnirq, who was then the deputy Minister of the culture, language, elders and youth department, told the hamlet that the change would become official as of April 1.

But later, the hamlet was told the change would need cabinet approval and that a number of government agencies would have to be notified.

“On behalf of the government of Nunavut, I would like to offer my apologies for any confusion that may have been caused over the summer,” Culture Minister Donald Havioyak said in the same press release.

“The confusion was partly due to the fact that the government did not have a policy in place,” he said.

But now Taggart says that cabinet has given its approval, and that the proper agencies have been notified.

“A person here translated it (Kugaaruk) for me roughly as ‘a river that is not too big and not too small,'” he said.

There should be little cost in making the change, Taggart said. No new stationery needs to be purchased as Kugaaruk uses computer-generated letterhead.

Taggart said he has been in contact with Canada Post to make sure mail will get to the hamlet.

“We had a letter end up in Kugluktuk, but eventually it ended up here,” he said. Some initial mistakes are to be expected with the change, he said.

Canada Post has assured Taggart that the mail will in fact get to Kugaaruk, because the mail system relies more upon the postal code than the actual name of the municipality.

The Hamlet will have to change its logo, but will continue to use its old cheques until they run out, Taggart said. Like Canada Post, the Hamlet’s bank is more concerned with identification numbers than names, he said.

While the communiqué said residents and elders of the community have always known Pelly Bay as Kugaaruk, the hamlet’s official Inuktitut name before the change was “Aqvilikjuaq” or “lots of bowhead whales,” said Taggart.

“The name refers to a river that passes through the community,” said Taggart. He said the community uses the river for its water supply and for fishing.

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