Nunavut’s Baffin Island boasts 1,600 miles along the east coast where cruise vacationers can travel. This area of the northern arctic houses fewer than 10 communities (most with populations under 1,000) and is a great destination to learn about the Inuit culture, language and history.
Cultural Cruise Vacations
For communities on Baffin Island, Nunavut, there’s no access accept for air, which is very expensive, or ship. Fortunately, expedition cruise companies like Adventure Canada take travellers into these remote areas to meet the Inuit people and learn about their culture.
Small passenger cruise ships are used to navigate the waters and offer travellers the opportunity to access these small communities. Here, the residents often put on performances, show Inuit games, sell their ware and give visitors a taste of their “Country Food,” like arctic char, caribou meat and whale.
Another treat of taking these types of expedition cruises is the chance to learn Inuktitut. Culturalists and others who have lived in the north teach classes aboard the ship. Basic words like “ullakkut,” which means Good Morning, or “unnukkut,” which means Good Evening are quickly learned.
Frequently, guests will also learn a couple of songs in Inuktitut, which they then sing to the communities they visit in Nunavut. Most popular is Frères Jacques, which is fairly easy to remember and most people already know the tune.
Inuit People and Culture
By meeting the Inuit people on Baffin Island, southerners get a sense of the lifestyle and harsh environment that the northerners must endure each year. Their connection to the land is paramount, as is their relationship with animals.
“For them to co-exist in such a harsh environment, Inuit developed so many skills that take a lifetime to learn. For example, if you cut an animal, it’s not yours,” clarifies Aaju Peters, Culturalist and frequent guest of Adventure Canada cruises.
“The animal actually comes to you because the animal can see the light in you, not the darkness; the light is inviting and the animal will give itself to you. So it is not you who is the great hunter, it is actually the desire of the animal to come to you, that causes you to have food.”
This is taught from an early age, as Shari Gearheard, a Canadian researcher living in Clyde River, Nunavut explains: “This is his first bear that he [Colin] got, a good sized bear. Everybody was very proud. Kids are taught at an early age, so they get to go out with their parents and when you are able to get your first bear or seal, it’s a really proud time for the family.”
Skiing Western Canada
Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains in British Columbia may be the headliners of skiing in Western Canada, but the supporting cast of ski venues is simply outstanding. Yes, you can ski BC, including Vancouver Island, but you can also ski in Alberta, Manitoba and even Saskatchewan.
In Alberta try the Lake Louise area with runs from gentle to double black diamonds. This is a great place to bring a group as you can find runs to suit everyone from beginners to Olympic hopefuls. Lake Louise is only 185 km from Calgary and a mere 50km from Banff. Try the Lake Louise Inn as a base for your ski Western Canada adventure.
After a hard day on the slopes in Lake Louise try “Ski Naked” a potent potable of Blue Curacao, Absolut, Cointreau, grape juice and a sprig of mint. This may cause you to exaggerate your prowess on the slopes but just remember that what happens on the mountain stays on the mountain.
Manitobans head to Holiday Mountain, with its two chair lifts, t-bar, and “wonder carpet” beginner lift. If you’ve wanted to try “downhill” skiing this just may be the place to try without being intimidated by giant slopes and overly competent seven year olds.
Saskatchewan is home to superb cross-country skiing in Western Canada. There are hundreds of kilometers of groomed and marked trails in regional, provincial and city parks across the province. For a weekend adventure spend the night in a bed and breakfast such as the Hillcrest Inn in northern Saskatchewan for an entire weekend of cross-country skiing and snow shoeing.
Mt. Washington on Vancouver Island offers glade skiing, deep alpine bowls and steep drops for the adventurous skiing Western Canada.
Interior British Columbia has Silver Star has been dubbed the favorite destination of the US Ski Nordic Team because of its long, scenic trails. Silver Star skiers have access to over 100 km of track-set trails for skiing.