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  NUNAVUT, CANADA
  Kivalliq Region
  Kitikmeot Region
  Qikiqtaaluk Region
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  Frequently Asked Questions    
  QUESTIONS
1. Will I have any difficulties communicating in English?
2. What kind of banking services are available? Will I be able to use my debit/credit card or travellers cheques?
3. What kind of gear or outerwear should I bring?
4. How will costs (for food, supplies, etc.) compare to the south?
5. What is the availability of health services?
6. Are there internet cafes / How can I contact people down south?
7. Are there any restrictions on alcohol?
8. Should I be concerned about encounters with wildlife?
9. What is meant by the 'midnight sun'?


ANSWERS
Q. Will I have any difficulties communicating in English?
A. The short answer is 'maybe', but there will almost always be an English-speaking person around who can translate if necessary! Inuktitut, Inuinnaqtun, English, and French are the official languages of Nunavut. Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun are used to different extents around the territory. Inuktitut is a single language with dialects that vary from region to region; some words will sound very similar and some very different between dialects. Inuinnaqtun is the name given to the Inuit language in the Kitikmeot region. Primary school children learn in Inuit languages until Grade 4, an effort that is very much helping to keep the language alive, and strengthens the relationship between generations. English is widely spoken, though literacy levels are highly variable. French is found in isolated pockets, the most significant francophone population being in Iqaluit where there is a French immersion school. Learning the local word for "thank you" should be a priority. In the Kivalliq region, the word is "matna", pronounced MUTT-NAH. Expressions like "hello" or "how are you?" are uncommon in Inuktitut. Instead, it is appropriate to greet someone with a warm smile and a handshake.

Q. What kind of banking services are available? Will I be able to use my debit/credit card or travellers cheques?
A. Many communities have no banking services at all. Very few communities have actual banks. Others will have an ATM and may also offer cheque-cashing at the local store. It would be wise to come with cash and a credit card. Only bring travellers cheques if you have confirmed in advance with your accommodation that you will be able to pay with them.

Q. What kind of gear or outerwear should I bring?
A. This depends somewhat on which season you are visiting in. Winter of course requires gear built for the harshest climates Canada has to offer. Wind-proof, water-proof and warm are the key words when buying gear. This means head to toe, including footwear. Canada Goose parkas are a very popular choice here. Of course, you'll see the locals wearing animal skin gear which is superior for the conditions. Sunglasses are a must, especially in spring when you want to avoid snow blindness.

Q. How will costs (for food, supplies, etc.) compare to the south?
A. Prices will depend somewhat on the community you are visiting. Availability of goods is also incredibly variable. In general, you will pay more for most things - especially anything that is heavy or perishable. Innovative use of natural resources, fishing and hunting remain important to the way of life here.

Q. What is the availability of health services?
A. This is something worth checking into before you arrive. Contact the local health center directly, or hamlet office, to find out the hours of operation or availability of health professionals. There are almost no resident doctors in Nunavut so services are delivered by advanced practice nurses. Psychiatric coverage is very infrequent, as is dentistry. It is strongly advisable to bring all prescription medications with you, as it can be very challenging to fill a prescrition in the North.

Q. Are there internet cafes / How can I contact people down south?
A. Although highspeed internet access just recently arrived to all communities in Nunavut, many residents still use dial-up. You can typically find some sort of public internet access at a local library. In larger communities, you may find an internet cafe, but it's best to ask around once you arrive. Otherwise, telephones are typically widely available.

Q. Are there any restrictions on alcohol?
A.
There are three types of alcohol policies in Nunavut. A few communities have no alcohol restrictions, such as Iqaluit, which means that you can purchase and drink alcohol at licensed establishments. The second type of community policy is one with no local purchasing of alcohol, but allows it to be brought in for personal consumption only with a permit endorsed by the local Alcohol Education Committee. The third type of community policy is one with a complete prohibition on alcohol.

Q. Should I be concerned about encounters with wildlife?
A. Yes, you should be aware of the potential for wildlife encounters at all times, even in towns. Enjoy the animals from a safe distance - at the end of a zoom lens! Camping on the land may invite unwelcome visitors and it is wise to bring a local guide who knows the area well.

Q. What is meant by the 'midnight sun'?
A. North of the Arctic circle, the sun remains just above the horizon for up to 24 hours during the summer, creating what is referred to as the midnight sun. The number of days/year that this happens depends on the location of the community. For example, in Grise Fiord, there is midnight sun from April 22 to August 22. Keep in mind that the converse is also true so that these places also experience long arctic nights during the months of November, December and January, when most communities north of the Arctic Circle experience 24 hour darkness.