Nunatsiavut is a vast but sparsely-populated rural area in northern Labrador which comprises six widely-scattered native villages (Nain, Natuashish, Hopedale, Postville, Makkovik and Rigolet) and three abandoned ghost towns (Hebron, Okak and Nutak) spread across over 72,000 square kilometres of land.
This is Inuit land, vast, expansive, remote, sparsely-populated and bitterly cold in winter. In Inuttitut, Nunatsiavut means "Our Beautiful Land". It has a population of about 2,200 people (2006), and includes territory larger than the Republic of Ireland.
Nunatsiavut is an autonomous area belonging to the Inuit indigenous people (formerly called "Eskimo", a term they consider to be pejorative) in Labrador. In 2005, the new Government of Nunatsiavut was established, and was given responsibility for health, education and cultural affairs. It is also responsible for holding elections for the Nunatsiavut Assembly. A primary objective of autonomy is for the preservation of the Inuit culture and language, as well as the environment through environmental stewardship.
In winter, the best way to get around is by snowmobile. In summer, there is a limited road network within each village; intercity transport is by coastal boat.
- Net Loft Museum, Rigolet. A restored 1876 Hudson's Bay Company building which once housed that company's local salmon fishery. A cultural interpretation centre, the Lord Strathcona House is a replica of "the grandest house in all of Labrador" where Donald Smith (who became Lord Strathcona) lived while working with HBC.
- Torngâsok Cultural Centre, 25 Ikajuktauvik Road, Nain, ☏ . Museum and community centre.
A few national historic sites commemorate the early Moravian Mission Presence in the region:
One may visit Torngat Mountains National Park by boat or charter plane from Nain. Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve is accessible by boat from Rigolet (pop. 269), the most southerly Inuit community in the world.
- 1 Torngat Mountains National Park, ☏ (English), (French), toll-free: , fax: . 9,700 km² of mountains and wilderness extend from Saglek Fjord in the south to the northern tip of Labrador, eastward to the Labrador Sea and west to Nunavik in Québec. Icebergs, migratory caribou herds, polar bears and the highest mountain peaks east of the Rockies.
- 2 Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve (Innu:"Akami-uapishku", Labrador Inuit: "KakKasuak"), ☏ . A 10,700 km2 national park reserve established 2015 to protect boreal forest, caribou, Atlantic salmon and trout, wolves, black bear, marten and fox, mountains, tundra, fjords and expansive native landscapes. A 50 km stretch of sandy beaches at the edge of the park, known since Viking times as the Wunderstrand, is suitable for hiking. Access is by boat from Rigolet or Cartwright; charter flights are available from Goose Bay.
Various native crafts (such as stone and caribou antler carvings, handmade slippers, seal skins, woven baskets and bowls) are available in the villages.
Traditionally hunting was the main source of food in this area; ptarmigan and grouse, hare, caribou, moose, ducks, goose, and seal are all harvested locally. Fishers catch salmon, arctic char, trout, smelt, cod, and snow crab. Wild birds eggs are gathered locally, along with berries such as bakeapples/cloudberry, blueberry, and partridgeberry (redberry or lingonberry).
The few grocery stores bring in a limited selection of non-local foods (starches, fruits, vegetables and meats); as costs are higher, these items normally complement (but do not replace) local foodstuffs.
Each native community is able to establish an "alcohol committee" with the power to impose restrictions within its respective village.
There is one bar (a hotel lounge) in Nain.
Beer can be purchased in Nain or Hopedale. Hard liquor can’t be purchased locally, but can be ordered from Goose Bay.
Natuashish voted by referendum to ban alcohol from the village entirely in 2008. The village, constructed as a $200 million planned community in 2002, was a replacement for a 1967-era shantytown at Davis Inlet with a painful history of alcoholism and addiction and all the social problems that go along with it. Please respect this history by refraining from smuggling drugs or alcohol into Natuashish.
- Amaguk Inn, Hopedale, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Hotel with lounge and dining room, airport transportation, fax/photocopy service, Internet, room service.
- Adlavik Inn, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Five-room inn with small restaurant serving traditional cuisines and local harvest.
- Atsanik Lodge, Sand Banks Road, Nain, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Full-service hotel with lounge, dining room/restaurant, banquet/meeting facilities, room service, airport transportation, Internet.
While (as of 2014) there was one hotel in operation (Natuashish Hotel, +1 709 478-2116), its lone restaurant was non-functional for lack of staff and all windows had been screened off with steel mesh (rendering them useless as fire exits) after a series of break-ins.
- North Coast Hospitality, Postville, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Hotel accommodation, office space, TV and internet.
- Jayda's Place B&B, Postville, ☏ . Breakfast, lunch, supper, TV and Internet in rooms.
- Blake's Efficiency Units, Rigolet, ☏ . Four efficiency units with one or two double beds, kitchenette/living room, Internet.
- Sinittavik Bed & Breakfast, Rigolet, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Four rooms with TV, telephone, wi-fi. Airport transportation, vehicle rental, licensed guide for boat and snowmobile tours.
The two token GSM cellular telephone sites in the region are in Natuashish (near Davis Inlet), operated by Lynx Mobility (a small, specialist carrier serving remote native communities), and a Bell's cell phone tower in Nain.
There is no signal elsewhere in Nunatsiavut.