Hello from Grise Fiord…

Well last week the weather was not on my side… my flights to Grise Fiord were all cancelled because of wind and snow! So Sunday I flew on to Arctic Bay did the work I had to do…but last night caught the flight back to Resolute to try for the 3rd time to get to Grise.

...Wednesday night, capturing the sunlight beneath the clouds before learning Arctic Bay.

…Wednesday night, capturing the sunlight beneath the clouds before learning Arctic Bay.

Grise Fiord also known in Inuktitut as ‘Aujuittuq’ ᐊᐅᔪᐃᑦᑐᖅ  which is translated into the ‘Place that never thaws’.  It is located at Latitude 76° 25’ N and Longitude 82° 53’ W. It’s the most northern community in Nunavut at the tip of Ellesmere Island (with a school, health centre and RCMP station!)  There are about 120-135 residents of Grise Fiord.  The only places further north on the map are Eureka ( small research base and refuelling spot) and Alert (army base with rotating army and scientific personnel) as well as Quttinirpaaq National Park!

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“The modern Inuit community of Grise Fiord did not exist until 1953 when the Government of Canada forcibly relocated Inuit families here from their Nunavik home of Inukjuak in northern Québec. The High Arctic Relocation Program also happened to the Inuit people of present-day Resolute. The federal government formally apologized to the Inuit people for this harsh treatment in 2008. The transition was arduous because the climate is far more severe than northern Québec and the game animals are different. Fortunately, the Inuit people of Grise Fiord are excellent hunters, gifted seamstresses and resourceful, good-natured providers for their families.” {Source}

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Getting there is about an hour and half flight from Resolute on a twin otter…there are only two scheduled flights a week…Thursdays and Sundays. Grise Fiord-SMcMahon003

Everyone needs to do some ‘selfies’ on a plane ride.  I sat by the door..which I think is one of the best seats in the plane, but it was chilly…very drafty! I survived…and next time might wear my wind pants.

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I was excited when we started getting closer to Grise Fiord to see the landscape.  It will be 5 years this November since my last visit to Grise…but the dark season was already in full force…so my flights happened in the pitch black!  It was so nice to see the landscape on my approach to town. Grise Fiord-SMcMahon008 Grise Fiord-SMcMahon009

Today coming in it was a bit windy…and we did dip and dive a bit on our way to the ground!  Can you see the airstrip and some of the houses in the photo below on the right?
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It’s kind of freaky when you land…as you head straight towards this huge mountain and then turn and land on the airstrip!  Grise Fiord-SMcMahon012 Grise Fiord-SMcMahon014

Safely on the ground!  Living in Nunavut and flying to much…I’m so thankful for such awesome pilots…that get us safely from community to community. Grise Fiord-SMcMahon015

The plane only stops long enough to empty it’s passengers and cargo…then reload the bags and passengers and refuel.  Then it’s back in the air on it’s way back to Resolute! Grise Fiord-SMcMahon016

This is the road just in front of the hotel here in Grise Fiord. Grise Fiord-SMcMahon020

This little girl was carrying her puppy ‘Spotty’ home…so I asked if I could take a photo.  The building on the right is the hotel here in Grise Fiord. Grise Fiord-SMcMahon023

I was just making dinner at the hotel when I got a phone call (from someone I met on the plane) …that if I looked outside the windows…I might see narwhals swimming!  So I quickly turned the burner off my soup…grabbed my camera and jacket and headed outside.

If you look in the photo below…there are narwhals swimming. Yes, it’s a pretty bad photo…I didn’t bring my 50-500 lens, only my 24-105.  But I still remember seeing them swimming and snorting out water! (if you look at the photo below… just above the ‘m’ of .com…and move right…you’ll see about 3-4 narwhals.)

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Very soon there was lots of action on the beach…with boats heading into the water to join in the hunt.  Grise Fiord-SMcMahon022

I’m not 100% sure how many were caught… but I think it was 3.  This narwhal was the 2nd one that the hunter has gotten…his first was about 2 years ago.  I couldn’t believe how big it was…. and the tip of the narwhal tusk was so pointy and sharp! (Sometimes they are broken)… Grise Fiord-SMcMahon029

I stayed around to watch the butchering it was so cool to watch the process and be able to ask questions…like the true southern I am. The man doing the butchering was ok with me asking questions and shared lots of awesome information. First they cut up the strips of the Mataaq…(so yummy–one of my favourites of all country food!) that’s the skin and a layer of the blubber.  Then the meat is butchered and I was told that they will dry it and make it into jerky and use it for food all winter.  This narwhal will be awesome food for lots of people tonight, and also this winter!  Grise Fiord-SMcMahon030

It was exciting first to be able to actually land in Grise and get here after trying all of last week (Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday!)… and then to have Narwhal spotted AND then caught while I was here… that’s just the icing on the cake of an awesome day.  Grise Fiord-SMcMahon034

I can’t wait to see what the rest of my adventures will be like for the rest of my time here  in Grise Fiord.

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8 thoughts on “Hello from Grise Fiord…

  1. Eeta Mary

    I enjoyed your pictures Sarah, If you are offered meat take some home to make jerky, bring some here and use my dehydrator, I use it once to make Jerky.

    Reply
  2. Emely

    What an adventure sarah!! I am so impressed, I even show it to my husband and kids and they are so overwhelm that you got to see this close up. Keep on going with the stories. =-)

    Reply
  3. Keenan

    WOW – love the pics! Your approach into Grise Fiord…breathtaking shots. THEN a separate adventure within the same post — have never seen a narwhal…WOW WOW WOW!

    Reply
  4. Good Helper Woman

    Great photography as usual! I read a post on your twitter and though you may not think that people are checking out your blog…they are. And I am sharing your blog with as much social media as I can to help you get more readers. You are thought of often and always with a smile.

    Reply
    1. Sarah on the Road Post author

      Thanks for your comment, and proving me wrong about my tweet from yesterday! Thanks for all the shares via social media. Getting comments from readers really makes my day. Wishing you all the best today. Cheers, Sarah 🙂

      Reply
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