The Inuvialuit people have made the Arctic coast region their home for centuries. Their ancestral homeland (the Inuvialuit Settlement Region) stretches along the coast from the Alaskan border to east of the Amundsen Gulf and inland as far as Inuvik and the community of Aklavik. They number approximately 3,100 people. The Inuvialuit speak up to four different dialects of Inuvialuktun, one of the eleven official languages of the Northwest Territories.
The Inuvialuit Final Agreement (IFA) signed in 1984 defines the Inuvialuit lands and has as its goals: the preservation of Inuvialuit culture and values: the inclusion of the Inuvialuit as participants in the northern and national economy and society; and the protection and preservation of Arctic wildlife and environment. The overall management of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region is undertaken by the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation. Its mandate is to continually improve the economic, social and cultural well-being of the Inuvialuit.
Inuvik is located in the Mackenzie Delta, 2 degrees above the Arctic Circle on the East Channel of the Mackenzie River and is the current northern terminus of the Dempster Highway connecting the Inuvik region to the Yukon Highway System. The town has a population of approximately 3,484 and is the administrative centre of the Inuvik Region. It was designated a town, with elected mayor and council, in 1970. Inuvik is known for its igloo-shaped church, the Lady of Victory, as well as North America’s most northern mosque, known as “little mosque on the tundra.” Inuvik is also known for its Great Northern Arts Festival, held annually in July.
Tuktoyaktuk is a hamlet of approximately 930 people located on the shore of the Arctic Ocean, northeast of Inuvik. Its location on Kugmalit Bay, near the Mackenzie River Delta, has been used by the Inuvialuit people for centuries as a camp for harvesting caribou and hunting beluga whales. It was also used as a jump-off point to transport goods and supplies to other settlements in the region. Since the 1960’s Tuktoyaktuk has served as a resupply and logistical base for oil& gas explorations efforts in the Mackenzie Delta-Beaufort Sea. The community is best known for being surrounded by pingos, hills rising out of the otherwise flat horizon formed by a build-up of ice under the ground’s surface.