Skip to Main Contents

Site Map | Acknowledgements and Credits | Your Feedback | Français | Inuktitut

Close-up of a bright red fruit, with dark green vegetation in the background. The fruit resembles a raspberry.

The Land


Land of Resources

Applied felt artwork depicting a scene at the Inuit encampment. There is a woman pictured beside a tent and a fish dryer, as well as two men returning from the walrus hunt. Tents can be seen in the background.

Untitled (2007) Mary Elissiapik, Inukjuak
The work depicts a camp scene where we can see a woman using a bone comb, two men returning from a walrus hunt, a fish dryer and canvas tents.
Collection d'art Inuit de la FCNQ

With its rich flora and fauna adapted to difficult conditions, Nunavik is also a land of resources for the Nunavimmiut, whose collective identity is deeply rooted in their reliance on these gifts from the earth. Caribou, geese, beluga whales, salmon and arctic char are just a few of the species prized not only for their nutritional value and savour, but also for the material they provide for making clothing or traditional objects.

Close up of a pile of white and gray fish, speckled with black, laying in a container after salmon fishing.

River salmon after fishing

Animals are hunted at specific times of the year that are determined by criteria such as migration patterns, reproductive cycles and changes in fur quality. Seasonal conditions and unpredictable weather are also important criteria that have a direct effect on the availability of resources. The search for traditional food, called niqituinnaq, thus requires detailed knowledge of the land, the animals that live on it and the many faces of this landscape in the constant flow of the seasons.

Nutritional Value and Preparation

Traditional food in Nunavik is rich in nutrients that have many health benefits. For example, the flesh of caribou, beluga, arctic char and seal is protein-rich. Iron is found in large quantities in seal liver (seven times more than in beef), goose and ptarmigan. Arctic char and seal are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, and seasonal fruits are rich in vitamin C.

The species valued by the hunters and fishers of Nunavik have specific nutritional characteristics and are prepared in different ways.

Hands with plastic gloves handling fish fillets cut evenly and spreading them on a rack to prepare them for the smoker.

Preparation of smoked river salmon

The non-edible parts of the animal are used to make clothing and traditional objects. Here are a few examples.

ARCTIC CHAR (Iqaluppiq)

Rich in proteins, iron and B vitamins, arctic char is eaten raw, frozen, smoked, aged or cooked. When dried, it provides omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial in the prevention of cardio-vascular problems and certain cancers. The skin and head of the fish are an important source of calcium. Traditionally, the bones were used to make needles. In some cases, the skin was sewn into waterproof clothing for travelling in a qajaq.

(per 100g serving)

Energy: 154 Cal
Protein: 20 g
Fat: 8.1 g
Sodium: 51 mg
Potassium: 551 mg
Omega-3: 6 g

Can be eaten raw, frozen, dried, smoked, aged or cooked. For example :
- Cooked Arctic char cold meatballs, mixed with mayonnaise, lemon juice and chopped onion.
- Baked steaks served on a bed of roasted mushrooms.
- Drained meat combined with fresh picked blueberries.

CARIBOU (tuktu)

Eaten raw, frozen, aged, cooked or dried, caribou is rich in iron and proteins. The flesh and liver are an excellent source of vitamin A, while the blood is a very good source of iron. Caribou meat is extremely lean, with a fat content of only 1%. Caribou is used in several ways other than as food. The hides provide outstanding insulation and can be made into clothing or laid on the floor for people to sleep on. Dorsal sinew is transformed into thread. The bones and antlers were traditionally used to fashion needle boxes and scrapers.

(per 100g serving)

Energy: 127 Cal
Protein: 23 g
Fat: 3.4 g
Sodium: 57 mg
Iron: 26% of the daily intake
Vitamin B12 - 105% of daily intake

Can be eaten raw, frozen, dried, aged or cooked. For example :
- Spicy caribou chili consisting of minced meat, tomato sauce and beans.
- Braised and cooked caribou chops, topped with cranberry sauce, brown sugar, dry mustard, vinegar and lemon juice.
- Caribou stew, made of meat cubes, carrots and sweet peppers.

BELUGA WHALE (qilalugaq)

Beluga whales are an important source of food for certain Nunavik communities. Maktaaq, the animal’s thick skin with a fine layer of fat, contains zinc, selenium, retinol (vitamin A of animal origin) and vitamin C. The red meat is eaten dried, frozen, raw or cooked. The fat can be rendered into oil, traditionally used for cooking food or as lighting fuel in stone lamps (qulliq). When tanned, the skin becomes a soft but sturdy leather that is suitable for making footwear.

(per 100g serving)

Energy: 127 Cal
Protein: 25 g
Fat: 4 g
Sodium: 60 mg
Iron: 26% of the daily intake
Vitamin B12 - 105% of daily intake

Can be eaten raw, dried, aged, boiled or cooked. For example :
- Boiled beluga skin (for 30 minutes in salt water).
- Roasted beluga meat with potatoes, onions and carrots.

RINGED SEAL (natsiq)

The flesh and organ meat of the seal are a source of proteins, iron and B vitamins. The liver contains selenium. Since the skin is porous and oily, it has waterproof qualities but also breathes, allowing humidity to escape. It is therefore ideal for making boots, coats and pants. Seal oil is used for heating and lighting. Traditionally, the intestines were used to make waterproof coats.

(per 100g serving)

Energy: 108 Cal
Protein: 26 g
Fat: 0.3 g
Sodium: 0 mg
Phosphorus: 195 mg
Iron: 20% of the daily intake

Can be eaten raw, frozen, boiled, dried or aged. For example :
- Roasted seal meat with added potatoes, onions and carrots in the roasting pan.

Back to Top