Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavik July 11, 2017 - 7:50 am

Nunavik’s biggest park looks to diversify visitor experience

Park staff working on an cross-country ski trail system, testing mountain bike packages

SARAH ROGERS
A view over Lake Tasiujaq, also known as the Richmond Gulf, at the entrance of Tursujuq park. An access road connects the community of Umiujaq to the area in the summer months. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)
A view over Lake Tasiujaq, also known as the Richmond Gulf, at the entrance of Tursujuq park. An access road connects the community of Umiujaq to the area in the summer months. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)
The Tursujuq park pavillion, built in December 2014, houses an interpretation centre and offices for park staff. Visitors can rent kayaks here to explore the park. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)
The Tursujuq park pavillion, built in December 2014, houses an interpretation centre and offices for park staff. Visitors can rent kayaks here to explore the park. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)
A view from just outside of Umiujaq in late May, looking west over the village and Hudson Bay. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)
A view from just outside of Umiujaq in late May, looking west over the village and Hudson Bay. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)
Tursujuq park's visitor experience officer Michel Harcc-Morrisette leads a hike outside of Umiujaq last month, towards a view over the Richmond Gulf. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)
Tursujuq park's visitor experience officer Michel Harcc-Morrisette leads a hike outside of Umiujaq last month, towards a view over the Richmond Gulf. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)

UMIUJAQ—It’s the end of May and the temperature has climbed to 24 C in Umiujaq, the second most southerly community in Nunavik and situated along the eastern Hudson Bay coast.

Umiujaq is the unlikely hot spot in Quebec. The sea ice on Hudson Bay has already broken up and drifted away from the shoreline, shifting the view from white to a deep blue.

For hunters, campers or hikers, this is a sweet spot—the time of year where you can enjoy the heat before the mosquitos and black flies arrive.

Umiujaq, population 440, is the base for Tursujuq park, one of four established Quebec national parks in Nunavik and the largest in all of the province, at 26,107 square-kilometres.

Unlike Nunavik’s other parks, like Pingualuit or Kuururjuaq which require transport by plane or snowmobile from the closest communities, visitors can practically walk from Umiujaq to the park’s entrance.

A quick all-terrain vehicle ride takes you to an access road that leads into the park.

At the end of May, there’s still enough snow and ice to make the park itself inaccessible but an hour hike up over a rocky crop gives you a wide view over Tasiujaq Lake, where the cliffs of the Richmond Gulf rise up over a large inland bay.

The view is just a tease for what the sprawling park offers; Tursujuq is home to sweeping cuestas, waterfalls, Quebec’s second largest natural lake (Clearwater) and an expanse of both tundra and taiga.

“We have a beautiful landscape,” said Charlie Tooktoo, who’s served as Tursujuq’s director for just over a year now.

“We’re working hard to have more tourists come here. So we’re getting to be known.”

Tursujuq staff delivered the park’s first winter package last March, something the park hopes to offer more of in future.

Park staff are currently working on a cross-country ski trail system through Tursujuq. One of its new visitor packages is an 80-kilometre ski expedition that winds through four camp sites on the north-east side of Lake Tasiujaq.

In 2017, park staff are also hoping to test out mountain biking as a visitor experience, as well as mapping the river to Clearwater Lake to help visitors who want to travel that part of the park by canoe and kayak.

“It looks very promising,” Tooktoo said.

The park is planning to host more than 100 visitors this summer, when cross-country skis are traded in for kayaks as the preferred method of transport.

Tursujuq’s visitors hail mostly from Quebec, some from the U.S. and a few from France, but the park is also attracting more Inuit.

That’s in part thanks to Nunavik Parks’ Weekends in the Parks packages, which offer a limited number of discounted weekend trips to Nunavimmiut during summer weekends.

Nunavik Inuit already get free access to the region’s parks, but the Nunavik Parks Beneficiary Access program also reimburses a portion of the cost of air travel to get to a park or a gateway community.

But Tooktoo prides himself on hosting visitors who are new to Inuit culture; despite the scenic views, it’s the culture that many are interested in, he said.

When southern visitors arrive, park staff host a cultural night at the park pavilion in Umiujaq, showcasing throat singing, Indigenous games and sports demonstrations and stone carving. Guides might take a group out mussel-picking.

“They like the cultural activities,” Tooktoo said. “Staying in a tupik (tent) is a big thing for them.”

That translates into spin-offs for the community—Tooktoo said the park employs five Inuit staff; there’s a new hotel in Umiujaq to cater to tourists and community artists and athletes also take part in demonstrations and cultural nights.

But not everyone thinks the park was in the best interests of Umiujaq, the only Nunavik community that hasn’t seen any population growth in recent years.

Umiujaq’s former and first-ever mayor, Noah Inukpuk, said he never supported the creation of Tursujuq park.

“I was always thinking: it’s the future land of the people living here,” he said. “I was thinking the land would be there for economic development—something people can benefit from more than a park.”

Inukpuk said the process to identify and create the park happened more at the regional and provincial level and did not include enough input from the community.

“Even though we have a right to hunt, they still have to replace the land they took from the community,” he said.

“It has created a few jobs, but there’s been no major benefit for the community.”

Tooktoo disagrees.

“Even if it’s small, it’s helping people out,” he said.

There are still limited spaces available for Weekends in the Park packages left for the summer. Go to the Nunavik Parks website for more information on visiting Tursujuq.

A kayaker visits Nastapoka Falls, just north of Umiujaq. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)
A kayaker visits Nastapoka Falls, just north of Umiujaq. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)
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(4) Comments:

#1. Posted by Magellan on July 11, 2017

Umiujaq is the third-most southerly Nunavik community.

The most southern Nunavik community is Chisasibi, where there is the most southern Inuit population in Quebec.

The term Nunavik is used to describe a cultural territory, the area used and occupied by the Inuit of what is now called Quebec.

Nunavik is not the same as the Kativik region. Kativik is the name of the administrated region, comprised of 14 villages.

Nunavik and Kativik do not mean the same thing.

Nunavik is larger.

#2. Posted by Community immunity on July 11, 2017

Umiujaq is actually the second most JBNQA CNV, an incorporated municipality.  There are other Inuit communities that are not called as CNV. 

Keep in mind Nunavik will not always be part of Quebec or Canada. Quebec and Canada will always have more important things to do than deal with Nunavik.  People will begin to understand this and then they will make sure there kids learn skills for a modern ways.  Our parents used to say their parents wanted them to go to school so much because these old people had to accept any white man that came north was their boss -anajurqaq.

#3. Posted by Magellan on July 11, 2017

Incorrect!

The Chisasibi Inuit (formerly of Mailasi) are fully beneficiaries of the JBNQA and are also full participants at Makivik, because their enclave is 100% Nunavik Inuit.

They do not live in the Kativik region (i.e. they do not participate in KRG).

#4. Posted by Nunavimmiuq on July 19, 2017

I was taught & raised to welcome any human individual, once they enter our region, they will always learn, no need to fight over or being bigger, according my elder`s wise words.

Tungngasuttisituiinnata, let`s keep welcoming visitors.

yet, I agree Kativik & Nunavik are big difference.

Inuuqatigiitsiata, let`s keep being nice to others.

John 3:16

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