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Follow In Billy Connolly’s Footsteps

Dive into Nunavut culture with a home stay and long-distance dogsled race.

Curious about everyday Inuit life in the North? It may not be the igloos or sod houses of yore, but signing up for a home stay with a local family and getting an insider’s look at the workings of a typical Nunavut hamlet (Kimmirut, NU) is definitely an intense cultural experience. Think eating traditional “country foods” (AKA caribou and Arctic char), dropping in on carvers at work, ice fishing, scanning for seal and whales at the ice-floe edge and learning to navigate the Inuit’s quirky sense of humour.

Time it right in March, and you can combine a home stay with the third annual Qimualaniq Quest, a challenging 320-km (199-mi) dogsled race from Iqaluit to Kimmirut and back. It was started by Iqaluit’s culturally savvy Association des francophones du Nunavut and the Mayukalik Hunters and Trappers Association of Kimmirut, with the mission of keeping dogsledding traditions alive on Baffin Island.

While you’re with your family, the dogsled teams begin to arrive. Mingle with mushers and enjoy the rare chance to join a big, down-home community feast in the high school gym. Locals will be sawing seal meat with their half-moon-shaped ulu knives and slurping caribou stew with fresh bannock bread. Dig in! With daylight lingering as the midnight sun moves in, there’s plenty of time for drum dancing and throat-singing. Elders are into storytelling. And someone always shows up with a fiddle.


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