Two more Nunavut communities revive their traditional names

The community once known as Cape Dorset is now Kinngait, while the former Hall Beach is officially Sanirajak.

By Emma Tranter, Nunatsiaq News - March 3, 2020
Nunavut’s community and government services minister has signed off on changing Cape Dorset’s name to Kinngait (pictured here) and Hall Beach’s name to Sanirajak, following the results of recent plebiscites. (Nunatsiaq News file photo)

Two Nunavut communities will officially make the switch back to their traditional names, Nunavut’s community and government services minister announced on Feb. 27.

Lorne Kusugak told the legislative assembly that he had signed off on Cape Dorset’s name change to Kinngait and Hall Beach’s change to Sanirajak that morning.

“I thank you for this opportunity as I want to state to my colleagues that earlier this morning I signed a document for two communities in Nunavut allowing them to revert to their original place names,” Kusugak said to applause from MLAs.

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Under the territory’s Hamlet Act, a municipal council can make a request for a name change to the minister of community and government services.

Both Hall Beach and Cape Dorset held plebiscites in the winter of 2019 to change back to their traditional names.

“Starting now, Hall Beach will be known as Sanirajak and what was called Cape Dorset starting this morning will be called Kinngait. My colleagues, let’s celebrate with the communities of Sanirajak and Kinngait,” Kusugak said.

Joelie Kaernerk, Sanirajak’s MLA, had stood in the legislative assembly on Feb. 20 to ask Kusugak for an update on the name change.

About 42 percent of residents voted for the name “Kinngait” in that community’s plebiscite (both “Cape Dorset” and and other traditional name “Sikusiilaq” were on the ballot there). Meanwhile Kaernerk explained that more than two-thirds of the community now known as Sanirajak voted in favor of that name.

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. has encouraged municipalities in the territory that still use English names to consider a switch to their original Inuktut names.

The communities still with English names, along with their traditional Inuktut names, are listed below:

  • Cambridge Bay (Iqaluktuuttiaq)
  • Gjoa Haven (Uqsuqtuuq)
  • Baker Lake (Qamani’tuaq)
  • Chesterfield Inlet (Igluligaarjuk)
  • Rankin Inlet (Kangiqliniq)
  • Whale Cove (Tikirarjuaq)
  • Coral Harbour (Salliq)
  • Clyde River (Kangiqtugaapik)
  • Pond Inlet (Mittimatalik)
  • Arctic Bay (Ikpiarjuk or Tununirusiq)
  • Grise Fiord (Ausuittuq)
  • Resolute Bay (Qausuittuq)