Indigenous Tourism Business Feature: Arctic Bay Adventures, Nunavut
Arctic Bay Adventures
Every spring, Inuit guides take international visitors to Admiralty Inlet on the northern shore of Baffin Island in Nunavut to see the floe edge — a constantly moving line between ice that’s anchored to the shore and the Arctic Ocean.
With nearly 24 hours of sunlight, visitors watch as enormous pieces of ice break off and are carried away by the currents. They have their cameras poised to see marine life — narwhals, seals, beluga and bowhead whales — that might pop up in the open water.
Visitors sleep on cots in heated tents near the floe edge. They eat with their guides and sample some of their traditional foods, including seal and Arctic char. The basecamp is two hours away at Arctic Bay, one of the most northerly communities in the world, and far from a fully equipped hospital. A $5,000 grant put 15 guides through wilderness first-aid training in Arctic Bay.
“It was a big thing for the guides to learn how to do all this kind of stuff,” says Gene O’Donnell, manager at Arctic Bay Adventures. “We’re out on the floe edge, which is six to seven hours from any source of health care except for our first-aid kits. We have satellite phones but it may take eight hours to get to us, so we need to know first aid and how to use the equipment I’ve already purchased.”
The grant covered the course, renting the space as well as tea, coffee, juice and a few snacks for the guides. “The grant helped out immensely,” says O’Donnell.