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Kuujjuaq ᑰᑦᔪᐊᖅ

Situated 48 km upstream from Ungava Bay on the Koksoak River, Kuujjuaq is Nunavik's largest community with a population of over 2,660 people. It is the administrative capital of Nunavik.

Once a small trading post in the 1800s known as Fort Chimo (mispronunciation of saimuuk, meaning "let's shake hands"), it was also used by the United States Army Air Forces during the Second World War in 1941 to survey the area. An airfield was built but was never used for its intended purpose, and was then turned over to the Canadian government in 1945. The site was then used as naval radio station, but high maintenance costs led to it being shuttered and moved to Forbisher Bay (now Iqualuit). The airfield eventually became the Kuujjuaq Airport, now a hub for northern air transit.

In 1961, the Kuujjuaq cooperative was one of the first established in Nunavik.

The Art

Kuujjuaq is known more for its handicraft than for soapstone sculptures. In the 1960s, Jeannie Snowball created a miniature doll representing the snowy owl, made of seal and wolf fur, called the "Ookpik," which quickly became a symbol of Canada's handicrafts. Its immense popularity is largely what gave the Kuujjuaq cooperative the necessary funding to start up.

Notable artists (past and present) include:

  • Alicie Saunders
  • Daisy Saunders (1916)
  • Jeanie Snowball (1906-2002)