Inuit People: The Original Canadians

Inuit People

The Inuit people are a group of indigenous peoples who have lived in the Arctic regions of Greenland, Canada, and Alaska for hundreds of years. 

The Inuit people are not to be confused with the Yupik of Siberia and the Iñupiat of the US, collectively termed as 'Eskimo', although this is no longer an accepted term in most parts. 

Famed for living in some of the most extreme cold weather environments on earth, the Inuit people are known to live off the land, hunting and gathering, using what nature has given them in this stark and beautiful region.

Just finding food in the Arctic is incredibly difficult. One of the great pleasures of visiting this region is to learn more about the Inuit people and their unique culture. 

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The origins of the Inuit people

Inuit People - historic

The first Inuit people are said to have lived on the seacoast and tundra, of north-western Alaska where they hunted the local animals including seals, whales and caribou.

They were the first Artic people to hunt large sea creatures which enabled them to enjoy a richer way of life due to the volume of food. 

Early Inuit began to move east into Arctic Canada in search of a more prosperous lands. The whaling grounds in and around Baffin and Somerset islands became popular places to settle and villages sprung up in the best whaling and hunting and fishing grounds.

Inuit have encountered Vikings, European explorers, and professional whalers. The Inuit people were officially recognised following the second World War. This led to resettlement in permanent locations and Government services and facilities being made available. 

Where do the Inuit live now?

Inuit People - modern culture

The state of Nunavut is where the settlements were made in the Northern territories of Canada following the second World War.

Today, the communities are thriving whilst still keeping their traditional roots intact. Iqaluit is the administrative, commercial, and cultural centre and the largest town in Nunavut.

Then there are plenty of other smaller towns. Rankin Inlet or Kangiqting on the northwest coast of Hudson Bay, Pangnirtung or Panniqtuuq on Baffin Island, and Cambridge Bay or Ikaluktutiak on the southeast coast of Victoria Island.

Most of these communities can be visited during Canadian Arctic cruises or special Arctic land tours. 

Do the Inuit still hunt off the land?

Inuit People - hunting

Hunting is still very much a part of Inuit culture, although nowadays earning a wage has taken precedence to afford modern comforts such as electricity.

They continue to hunt and eat their traditional meats of seal, walrus and reindeer. They also continue to use the furs and skins from their hunt to produce clothing and boots. 

Hunting skills are important even today and activities such as harpoon throwing and kayaking are practised and honoured.

It is a contentious issue for some, and conservation groups have set in motion some restrictions which, although well-intentioned, are causing conflict with ancient Inuit values and practises.

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Can you visit Inuit Communities?


If you take a cruise in the Canadian Arctic, you can enjoy all the beautiful sights, amazing wildlife and view the Inuit way of life.

Communities in Nunavut are used to modern life and cruise visitors. When you take a cruise, you can expect to see the colourful houses that Inuit now call home, ATV vehicles and Skidoos that demonstrate the transition between old and new. 

There are a few different cruises and trips you can take in the Canadian Arctic and Northwest passage. Visit Baffin Island to explore deep fjords, towering mountains, and see the birds and marine wildlife that call this place home. On Baffin island you can also visit remote Inuit villages to indulge in the daily life of the people who call this beautiful wilderness their home.

Or you could choose Canada’s east coast, visiting historic Viking settlements and Encountering Nunatsiavut people in small societies along the coastline of Labrador and Ellesmere. Visit Torngat Mountains National Park and learn about the spiritual connections the indigenous people have with the land and the amazing but harsh places they live and survive.  

As remote and isolated as you can get, the Northwest Passage is the famous ice-strewn route which connects Europe with Asia. This is an exciting voyage and offers a chance for cruise goers to experience a part of the world that few other people will ever see. 


If you have any queries or questions regarding this article, please feel free to contact us or leave a comment below.

Thank you and happy travels!

Expedition Cruise Team

About the Author Burnham Arlidge

Burnham started his career as a professional tennis player before retiring due to injury. Since then Burnham has thrown himself into adventure travel. He has cruised to some of the most iconic and obscure parts of the planet.

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