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Inuvik skyline.jpg
Buildings of central Inuvik from south of town
Flag of the Inuvik First Nation.PNG
NWT All Region Locator.svg
Red pog.svg
Canada location map 2.svg
Red pog.svg
Coordinates: 68°21′39″N133°43′47″W / 68.36083°N 133.72972°W / 68.36083; -133.72972 Coordinates: 68°21′39″N133°43′47″W / 68.36083°N 133.72972°W / 68.36083; -133.72972
Territory Northwest Territories
Region Inuvik Region
Constituency Inuvik Boot Lake
Inuvik Twin Lakes
Census division Region 1
Village1 April 1967
Town1 January 1970 [1]
  SAOGrant Hood
   MLA Lesa Semmler (Twin Lakes)
   MLA Diane Archie (Boot Lake)
  MP Michael McLeod
  Land62.48 km2 (24.12 sq mi)
   Population centre [4] 1.62 km2 (0.63 sq mi)
15 m (49 ft)
Highest elevation
68 m (223 ft)
Lowest elevation
10 m (30 ft)
 (2016) [3]
  Density51.9/km2 (134/sq mi)
  Population centre
  Population centre density1,937.8/km2 (5,019/sq mi)
Time zone UTC−07:00 (MST)
  Summer (DST) UTC−06:00 (MDT)
Canadian Postal code
X0E 0T0
Area code(s) 867
Telephone exchange 678/777 (777 was previously (403) 979)
- Living cost147.5 A
- Food price index156.6 B
Highways Dempster Highway
Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway
Waterways Mackenzie River
Climate Dfc
Department of Municipal and Community Affairs, [5]
Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre, [6]
Canada Flight Supplement [7]
^A 2013 figure based on Edmonton = 100 [8]
^B 2015 figure based on Yellowknife = 100 [8]

Inuvik /ɪˈnvɪk/ (place of man) is a town in the Northwest Territories of Canada, and is the administrative centre for the Inuvik Region. Inuvik is both a Gwich'in and an Inuvialuit community. [9] [10] The community, like Aklavik, is located in both the Gwich'in Settlement Area [11] [12] and the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. [13] [14] [15]



Inuvik was conceived in 1953 as a replacement administrative centre for the hamlet of Aklavik on the west of the Mackenzie Delta, as the latter was prone to flooding and had no room for expansion. Initially called "New Aklavik", it was renamed Inuvik in 1958. The school was built in 1959 and the hospital, government offices and staff residences in 1960, when people, including Inuvialuit, Gwich’in (Dene) and Métis, began to live in the community.

Naval Radio Station (NRS) Inuvik, later CFS Inuvik, callsign CFV, was commissioned on 10 September 1963 after operations had been successfully transferred from NRS Aklavik. Station CFV was part of the SUPRAD (Supplementary Radio) network of intercept and direction finding stations.

CFS Inuvik closed on 1 April 1986 and the site was transferred to the Department of Transport for use as a telecommunications station. Nothing remains of CFS Inuvik today. Even now, many people of all backgrounds still lament its closing. The Navy Operations base at the end of Navy Road was completely dismantled and removed.

Inuvik achieved village status in 1967 and became a full town in 1979 with an elected mayor and council. In 1979, with the completion of the Dempster Highway, Inuvik became connected to Canada's highway system, and simultaneously the most northerly town to which one could drive in Canada. While a winter only ice road through the Mackenzie River delta still connects Inuvik to Aklavik, southwest of Inuvik, the winter only ice road running northeast to Tuktoyaktuk is no longer being built due to the opening of the Inuvik–Tuktoyaktuk Highway (ITH), which opened in November 2017, and which is open all year round. The Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk highway, which connects to Canada's highway system at Inuvik via the Dempster Highway, is the first road in history to reach the polar shore of North America. [16]

Between 1971 and 1990, the town's economy was supported by the local Canadian Forces Station, CFS Inuvik, (originally a Naval Radio Station, later a communications research/signals intercept facility [17] ) and by petrochemical companies exploring the Mackenzie Valley and the Beaufort Sea for petroleum. This all collapsed in 1990 for a variety of reasons, including disappearing government military subsidies, local resistance to petroleum exploration, and low international oil prices. Since then the economy has been based on some minor tourism and subsidy provided by the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), Health Canada (for the regional hospital) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.


The population as of the 2016 Census was 3,243, [3] [18] a decrease of 6.4% from the 2011 Census and a decrease of 7.0% from the 2006 Census. The two previous census counts show wide fluctuations due to economic conditions: 2,894 in 2001 and 3,296 in 1996. [19] [20]

As of the 2016 Census there were 2,080 people who identified as Indigenous. 63.2% were Inuvialuit (Inuit, predominantly Uummarmiut), 31.0% First Nations and 5.3%; Métis. The non-native population of Inuvik was 36.7%. The main language spoken in Inuvik is English, though schools teach and a handful of local people still speak Inuinnaqtun (Inuvialuktun), and Gwich’in. [3] Local CBC Radio, CHAK (AM), broadcasts an hour of programming a day in each of these languages. Local Gwich'in are enrolled in the Inuvik Native Band.

There are also about 100 Muslims, most of whom came there for economic opportunities. A small mosque (dubbed "Little mosque on the tundra" in reference to the CBC show Little Mosque on the Prairie ) was established in 2010. [21] In 2017 the Government of the Northwest Territories reported that the population was 3,192 with an average yearly growth rate of -1.2% from 2007. [8]

Historical population
Sources: NWT Bureau of Statistics (2001 - 2017) [22]


Inuvik is located on the East Channel of the Mackenzie Delta, approximately 100 km (60 mi) from the Arctic Ocean and approximately 200 km (120 mi) north of the Arctic Circle. The tree line lies north of Inuvik, and the town is surrounded by boreal forest. [23]

Due to its northern location, Inuvik experiences an average of 56 days of continuous sunlight every summer and 30 days of polar night every winter.


Most roads in Inuvik are paved. There are both concrete and metal-grill sidewalks alongside the roads.

The Dempster Highway provides access to Inuvik for the majority of the year. However, the highway relies on ferries and ice bridges to get across the rivers. It is thus closed during the time of freeze-up (roughly late-October to mid-December), for ice to form and allow ice bridges, and thaw (roughly mid-May to mid-June) to allow the ferry to run. At these times, there is air access only.

The main airport is Inuvik (Mike Zubko) Airport. There is also a general aviation airport, Inuvik/Shell Lake Water Aerodrome.

When the Mackenzie River is ice-free, Northern Transportation Company Limited provides a commercial barge service from Hay River, on Great Slave Lake to the regional terminal in Inuvik. The annual sealift moves supplies as far east as Taloyoak, Nunavut and west to Utqiagvik, Alaska. [24]

A distinct feature of Inuvik is the use of "utilidors" – above-ground utility conduits carrying water and sewage – which are covered by corrugated steel. They run throughout town connecting most buildings, and as a result there are many small bridges and underpasses. The utilidors are necessary because of the permafrost underlying the town.

Another feature is an Inuksuk placed outside the Mackenzie Hotel, which was rebuilt in 2006.


Inuvik has a subarctic climate (Köppen Dfc). Summers are typically wetter and cool, with temperatures varying wildly throughout the months due to its peculiar location near the cold Arctic Ocean. The average hottest month of the year, July, has a mean high of 19.5 °C (67.1 °F) and mean low of 8.6 °C (47.5 °F). Unlike many other North American continental climates, Inuvik warms up very quickly during the months of May and June due to the rapidly increasing day length, and that remaining snow cools down until May. June is a warmer month than August. Seasonal transitions are extremely short, with mean daily temperatures rising or falling as fast as 0.5 °C (0.9 °F) per day. Winters are long and extremely frigid; the coldest month of the year, January, having a mean high of −22.8 °C (−9.0 °F) and a mean low of −31.0 °C (−23.8 °F). Freezing temperatures can occur any month of the year. Inuvik has a great variation of temperatures during the year, usually peaking below −40 °C (−40 °F) in the winter and above 30 °C (86 °F) in the summer. [25] The highest temperature ever recorded in Inuvik was 32.8 °C (91 °F) on 17 June 1999 and 20 July 2001. [25] The coldest temperature ever recorded was −56.7 °C (−70 °F) on 4 February 1968. [25]

Snow that falls from October onward usually stays until the spring thaw in mid-May. By March, the median snow depth has reached its greatest, about 56.2 cm (22.1 in). [25]

Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Climate data for Inuvik (Mike Zubko Airport), elevation: 67.7 m (222 ft), 1981–2010 normals, extremes 1957–present
Record high humidex
Record high °C (°F)7.1
Average high °C (°F)−22.8
Daily mean °C (°F)−26.9
Average low °C (°F)−31.0
Record low °C (°F)−54.4
Record low wind chill −64−67−60−51−35−13−5−9−23−43−55−60−67
Average precipitation mm (inches)12.5
Average rainfall mm (inches)0.1
Average snowfall cm (inches)15.4
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm)9.910.911.
Average rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm)
Average snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm)10.311.611.
Average relative humidity (%)67.365.458.059.359.949.356.363.268.878.674.069.764.2
Mean monthly sunshine hours 7.365.2174.1248.7295.0375.1339.8216.2109.450.217.80.01,898.8
Source: Environment Canada (Sunshine 1951–1980) [25] [26] [27] [28]


Our Lady of Victory church IGLOO.jpg
Our Lady of Victory church

Famous attractions

Inuvik's Our Lady of Victory Church, often called Igloo Church, is a famous landmark in the region. It is the most-photographed building in the town [ citation needed ].

Inuvik has North America's northernmost mosque, which opened in November 2010 after being built in Winnipeg and moved 4,000 km (2,500 mi) by truck and barge. [29] Some media reports have mistakenly called the mosque "the world's northernmost mosque", but in fact mosques in Norilsk, Russia, and Tromsø, Norway, are both slightly farther north than Inuvik. [30] [31]

Annual events of note

The Inuvik community greenhouse converted from an old hockey rink. Inuvik Green.JPG
The Inuvik community greenhouse converted from an old hockey rink.

The Great Northern Arts Festival has been held annually for 10 days in the middle of July since 1989. [33] The Festival has hosted over 3000 artists from across Canada's north, and from as far away as Japan and Australia over 31 years and is the largest annual tourism event in the Beaufort Delta. Featuring on-site demonstrations, 50+ arts workshops, a 3500-piece gallery, an outdoor carving village, an interactive artist studio zone, nightly cultural performances, northern film screenings, family activities and an Arctic fashion show, the Festival attracts visitors from around the world to travel the Dempster Highway to visit Inuvik and the Gwich'in and Inuvialuit Settlement Regions.

The annual Sunrise Festival happens on the second weekend of the new year, when the sun finally breaks the horizon after about thirty days of darkness. The Festival is an all-day community event highlighted by dog-sled races, a long-program fireworks show and community bonfire. This Festival was highlighted in the award-winning [34] 2010 national Tropicana Orange Juice commercial Arctic Sun. [35]

Inuvik celebrates the Muskrat Jamboree each year in late March or early April. Started in 1957, the event brings together thousands of people to participate in traditional games, watch the dog-sled and snowmobile races and dance (jig) the night away in town. Most events are held on the Mackenzie River where several community groups operate concessions in stove-heated traditional McPherson tents, preparing hot soup, bannock, baked goods, coffee, Labrador tea, hot chocolate and other traditional refreshments. Many participants and spectators wear traditional clothing and often local artisans will have something to sell. In conjunction with the Muskrat Jamboree, the Town of Inuvik hosts the annual Muskrat Cup 3-on-3 Pond Hockey Tournament on the frozen Mackenzie River, the world's most northerly cash tournament.

The weekend closest to the summer solstice (21 June) each year features the Midnight Sun Fun Run, a 5K, 10K and Half-Marathon that starts at midnight under the blazing 24-hours of sunlight experienced for 50+ days each summer in Inuvik. Runners from around the world make their way north to participate in this unique event under the midnight sun.


Inuvik Regional Hospital Hospital,Inuvik.JPG
Inuvik Regional Hospital

A new hospital opened in early 2003, providing service to an area extending from Sachs Harbour on Banks Island, to Ulukhaktok on Victoria Island, and from Paulatuk into the Sahtu Region including Norman Wells, Tulita, Deline, Fort Good Hope, and Colville Lake.

The Midnight Sun Complex, a stage-built multi-use facility, was completed in 2006. Featuring the Roy 'Sugloo' Ipana Memorial Arena, with an NHL-sized ice surface; the Inuvik Curling Club with 3 sheets and a well-situated licensed lounge/viewing area; the Inuvik Pool, an award-winning Class B recreational pool with lane swimming, waterpark features including a two-story waterslide, hot tub, sauna and steam room; two squash courts; a multi-use community hall with stage; on-site business centre/production office; full building wireless; video-conferencing facility; on-site catering/kitchen; and meeting rooms for groups of 5 to 500. At full-building use, the Complex can host conferences, conventions and trade shows with up to 1200 delegates/exhibitors. [36]

The community has a state-of-the-art school called East 3. The construction budget for the school exceeded $110 million, and it features modern technologies such as 'smartboards' and videoconferencing facilities as well as a large gym.



The town is served by the Inuvik Drum, a community newspaper published weekly by Northern News Services.


OTA channelCall signNetworkNotes
13 (VHF) CH4221 Aboriginal Peoples Television Network

Inuvik was previously served by CHAK-TV, VHF channel 6, a CBC North television repeater of CFYK-DT (Yellowknife); that station closed down on 31 July 2012 due to budget cuts affecting the CBC. [37] [38]


FrequencyCall signBrandingFormatOwnerNotes
AM 860 CHAK CBC Radio One Talk radio, public radio Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Part of CBC North; broadcasts programming in English, Gwich’in, and Inuvialuktun
FM 98.7 CKRW-FM-2 The Rush Hot adult contemporary Klondike BroadcastingRebroadcaster of CKRW-FM (Whitehorse)
FM 101.9 VF2082 CKLB Radio: The Voice of Denendeh Community radio Native Communications Society of the Northwest Territories First Nations community radio; rebroadcaster of CKLB-FM (Yellowknife)


Landline telephone service is provided by Northwestel, and cellular service by Ice Wireless and Arctic Digital (Bell Mobility). Cable television is also offered in Inuvik by New North Networks.

Fibre optic communications were added in Inuvik in June 2017 with the completion of the Mackenzie Valley Fibre Link; the $82 million 1,200 km (750 mi) line adds new capability to the town.

However, the dependence on this single trunk line occasionally causes widespread Internet outages during Dempster or Alaska Highway maintenance or construction. [39] [40] A backup trunk line between Fort Simpson and Inuvik is currently under construction. [41]

Planetary nomenclature

In 1988, the International Astronomical Union's Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (IAU/WGPSN) officially adopted the name Inuvik for a crater on Mars, at 78.7° north latitude and 28.6° west longitude. The crater's diameter is 20.5 km (12.7 mi). [42]

Notable people

See also

Related Research Articles

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The Northwest Territories is a federal territory of Canada. At a land area of approximately 1,144,000 km2 (442,000 sq mi) and a 2016 census population of 41,790, it is the second-largest and the most populous of the three territories in Northern Canada. Its estimated population as of 2021 is 45,504. Yellowknife is the capital, most populous community, and only city in the territory; its population was 19,569 as of the 2016 census. It became the territorial capital in 1967, following recommendations by the Carrothers Commission.

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Aklavik Hamlet in Northwest Territories, Canada

Aklavik is a hamlet located in the Inuvik Region of the Northwest Territories, Canada. Until 1961, with a population over 1,500, the community served as the regional administrative centre for the territorial government.

Inuvialuktun comprises several Inuit language varieties spoken in the northern Northwest Territories by Canadian Inuit who call themselves Inuvialuit. Some dialects and sub-dialects are also spoken in Nunavut.

Inuvialuit Inuit subgroup

The Inuvialuit or Western Canadian Inuit are Inuit people who live in the western Canadian Arctic region. They, like all other Inuit, are descendants of the Thule who migrated eastward from Alaska. Their homeland – the Inuvialuit Settlement Region – covers the Arctic Ocean coastline area from the Alaskan border, east through the Beaufort Sea and beyond the Amundsen Gulf which includes some of the western Canadian Arctic Islands, as well as the inland community of Aklavik and part of Yukon. The land was demarked in 1984 by the Inuvialuit Final Agreement.

Dempster Highway Highway in Yukon Territory and Northwest Territories, Canada

The Dempster Highway, also referred to as Yukon Highway 5 and Northwest Territories Highway 8, is a highway in Canada that connects the Klondike Highway in Yukon to Inuvik, Northwest Territories on the Mackenzie River delta. The highway crosses the Peel River and the Mackenzie Rivers using a combination of seasonal ferry service and ice bridges. Year-round road access from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk opened in November 2017 with the completion of the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway, creating the first all-weather road route, connecting to the Canadian road network with the Arctic Ocean, in Canada.

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  40. [ bare URL ]
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