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Nunavut tundra on a women-only immersion

By Margo Pfeiff
  A gentle sea breeze strokes the tundra, rippling clusters of yellow poppies and poofy tufts of cotton grass. An Arctic fox steals silently into the distance and then they appear, a hundred or more figures standing on a rocky slope. Like stone soldiers, these inukshuk-human-shaped Inuit markers of granite - are silhouetted by the midnight sun in a spiritual place of mystery. Who built these sentinels on southern Baffin Island, NU, when and why? We may never know. But now you can see, and ponder, for yourself.
     Cape Dorset-based Huit Huit Tours takes women to remote Inukshuk Point on a new nine-day, all-gals Arctic adventure "Silent Messengers." Grab a sketchbook or camera to capture seals, whales, caribou and wildflowers while camping in comfort in the Nunavut wilds.
     Head to town - the no-frills settlement of Kinngait (Cape Dorset) - to explore Inuit Art Central, the community with the country's highest per capita of artists. (These world-renowned Inuit prints and sculptures are Canada's official gifts to kings and presidents.) You'll tour ancient Thule archaeological sites, sip tea with elders and chat with artists carving outside their homes.
     At the Kinngait print shop, you might run into legendary printmaker Kenojuak, then poke through the storeroom for first crack at just-finished prints before they ship to galleries around the globe.
     Arctic veteran Kristiina Alariaq, a Finland native who journeyed north in '76, and husband Timmun Alariaq, a traditional hunter, guide and animation filmmaker, run Huit Huit Tours, leading Silent Messengers and other custom trips. Huit Huit (an Inuit sled-dog command in the local lingo) has newly opened a hotel in town, one of Nunavut's best. Designed in the oval shape of a "Qammaq," a traditional Inuit home, it comes with all the mod coms in earthy colours of "the land" and Inuit art on the walls.
     "You gain rare insights into Inuit culture," says Kristiina Alariaq, who has learned traditional Inuit women's skills over the years, "and an appreciation for the solitude and wide-openness of the natural environment we live in."

Award-winning, Montréal, QC-based freelance writer and photographer Margo Pfeiff's work has appeared in Reader's Digest (books and magazines), GEO, Better Homes and Gardens, Time-Life books, Canadian Geographic, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, The Dallas Morning News, Montréal Gazette, National Post, The Globe and Mail and Cathay Pacific's Discovery magazine.

Photo Credit & Article:
courtesy, Canadian Tourism Commission

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