Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavik December 12, 2016 - 11:45 am

Nunavik Parks grows visitors with popular weekend passes

“People hear about it, and more and more they want to visit"

SARAH ROGERS
High school students from Puvirnituq and Umiujaq enjoy the view from Nastapoka Falls at Tursujuq park in September, as part of a leadership camp organized by the Nunavik teens. (PHOTO COURTESY OF A. MORIN/PIVALLIANIQ)
High school students from Puvirnituq and Umiujaq enjoy the view from Nastapoka Falls at Tursujuq park in September, as part of a leadership camp organized by the Nunavik teens. (PHOTO COURTESY OF A. MORIN/PIVALLIANIQ)

KUUJJUAQ—Visits to Nunavik’s parks have more than doubled over the past two years as the parks entice more and more Inuit to enjoy their programming and views.

In the little over a decade since Nunavik Parks first launched under the Kativik Regional Government, the department has seen the creation of four national parks: Pingualuit, Kuururjuaq, Tursujuq and, most recently, Ulittaniujalik.

Among the largest and most remote in Quebec’s park network, Nunavik Parks’ goal has been focused on making the parks more accessible.

In recent years, parks staff have designed all-inclusive packages aimed at Quebecers and southern visitors and weekend getaways for beneficiaries.

And that work is paying off, said Patrick Graillon, assistant director of parks operations at the KRG.

“People are taking advantage of that,” Graillon told a meeting of regional councillors Dec.1. “It’s interesting to see how many.”

In 2014, Nunavik Parks counted 250 visitors, a number that grew to 350 in 2015 and increased to almost 500 this year.

“The way it’s going now with the reservations we already have for next year, we should be able to add around 200 more visitors,” Graillon said. “There’s a lot of interest right now.”

Of registered visitors, 80 per cent are Nunavik residents and 46 per cent are Inuit. Graillon notes that many beneficiaries also can visit the park without registering.

The remaining 20 per cent of the parks’ visitors are from southern Quebec or “other”—that is, Canadian or international visitors.

To help encourage visitors, Nunavik Parks launched a special offer in 2015: a limited number of weekend packages for beneficiaries and non-Inuit Nunavimmiut who would pay between $200 and $500 for a weekend park visit.

The packages sold out that year, and saw an even larger demand in the summer of 2016.

“We opened the registration by phone at 9 a.m., and an hour and a half later, it was full,” Graillon said.

Nunavik Inuit already receive preferential pricing to visit parks. Nunavik Parks can count on $84,000 in 2017 to deliver its Beneficiaries Access Program, which allows groups to apply for help in paying for transportation, lodging and other supplies needed to visit parks.

“This winter, already we have more school group reservations than we did for all of last year,” Graillon told KRG councillors.

“People hear about it, and more and more they want to visit.”

Though parks are a southern concept, Inuit culture lends itself to on-the-land recreation.

Nunavik Parks said its working to harness that culture in marketing “an authentic and Inuit way of life” to out-of-region visitors.

Because the cost of travelling from a southern city to a Nunavik park is so expensive, Graillon acknowledges that the region’s parks will never host thousands of visitors.

“It will never be Cancun or Paris,” he said. “But that’s what attracts people, the fact that it’s remote, isolated.

“If we get a few hundred more, it’ll be pretty good.”

You can check out some of Nunavik Parks’ winter packages here.

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