Engage North

Hamlet of Pangnirtung

Pangnirtung

Pangnirtung is a traditional Inuit community located on Baffin Island’s eastern shore in the Qikiqtaaluk region of Nunavut. A fly-in-fly-out community, Pang (as it is affectionately known) is found 40 kilometers south of the Arctic Circle and 100 kilometers north of Iqaluit, and it is home to approximately 1500 people. As Inuit people have inhabited the area for thousands of years, Inuktitut is the primary language in use in the community.

English is also spoken by most members of the community and is used when dealing with government entities. The community has excellent facilities, which include an adult education centre, a cultural centre, a world renowned arts co-op, a health centre, and two schools. Pangnirtung’s primary economic driver is a large char and turbot fishery, as well as a fish processing plant. The area is a stunning and vibrant example of Arctic ecology, with a glacial mountain fjord complex that is one of the most beautiful landscapes on earth. A national park, Auyuittuq, is situated at the north end of the Pangnirtung Fjord.


Engage North first partnered with the Hamlet Council of Pangnirtung in 2012 to facilitate project-based community support. Interns and Fellows were invited into the community from 2012 to 2015, with each student focusing on diverse projects and activities relating to their academic background and experience. After a two year break, Engage North recently partnered with the University of Alberta Graduate Student Internship Program (GSIP) to create a permanent graduate-level internship positions with the community. The first intern produced by this partnership joined the community for the summer of 2018.

Community Projects

Nutrition Calorie Dollar -

The Pangnirtung Health Committee is a sub-committee of the Hamlet Council that comprises a group of community members with an interest in improving community health and well-being. Working closely with this group, as well as other institutions and community members, the Fellow will research local food prices; compare and contrast nutritional choices based on cost and popularity; set specific outcome objectives with the Health Committee; and develop a method of measuring the costs and impacts associated with nutrition and food choices in Pangnirtung. The project includes analysis of both the caloric and nutritional value of different foods per unit cost, to determine an assessment of the ‘calorie value’ of a dollar in Pangnirtung. The project may involve a community awareness and education component, dependent on time and scope as the project progresses.

Comprehensive Drainage Plan -

During the wet times of the year, Pangnirtung experiences multiple problems with drainage throughout the community. Due to the size and relative isolation of the community, there has been few permanent solutions enacted to reduce the severity of the drainage issue and its environmental and economic impacts. Former Fellow Matthew Miller worked with Hamlet staff to gather existing information, consulted community members to identify problem areas and conducted topographic surveys/inventories for the community in the summer of 2015. From this research, Matthew created AutoCAD models and drawings and created potential drainage plan for the community. He then developed a comprehensive cost estimate and assisted Hamlet staff with grant applications for infrastructure funding before the end of his fellowship. See Matthew’s blog for more information on his project and fellowship experience.

Energy Audit and LED Implementation Project -

All communities in Nunavut depend on diesel fuel for electricity generation and heating. Diesel can only be brought in by sea lift once a year, and enough must be stored to last the community for the entire year. This dependency creates many challenges for the residents of Nunavut, and communities are economically restricted by the huge costs of electricity and heat. Due to the annual nature of replenishing the energy supply, the return period for energy efficiency projects is often on the scale of 1–2 years (in comparison, provincial return periods are on the scale of 7–10 years). Currently, the Hamlet allots 10% of their budget to energy costs. The Hamlet Council expressed a desire to redirect energy funds to enhanced social and youth programs, yielding a double benefit for the community, and so Fellows were invited to analyze energy consumption within the community. With this project, Fellows first performed an audit on Pangnirtung’s energy consumption and provided a cost-benefit analysis of energy saving measures available to the community. Fellows then developed opportunities for energy efficiency with Hamlet Council, including introducing renewable resources like solar and wind energy and designing and implemented LED lighting systems for community buildings.

Print Shop Archive Project -

The Pangnirtung Print Shop and Uqqurmiut Centre for Arts & Crafts houses world-class Inuit art and serves numerous artists in the region. Working with the Uqqurmiut Centre staff, the Hamlet of Pangnirtung and community members, the Fellow will help to create ways to showcase, feature, and display work by local artists. This includes cataloguing, organizing and digitizing historical prints; the creation of online selling tools; the formation of pop-up displays or galleries; and other projects to support local artists as discovered through the course of the placement. During her fellowship, Former Print Shop fellow Mariba Douglas worked to catalogue archived prints dating back to the 1970s and developed tools for local artists and the print shop to increase the marketability and salability of their art. See her blog for more information on her project and fellowship experience.

Youth Coding Club Project -

The median age of a resident of Pangnirtung is only 21 years old. As youth are a large majority of the population of Pangnirtung, as well as the relative isolation and small size of the community, Hamlet Council are invested in creating opportunities for the youth to engage with the community. The Youth Coding Club is a new group under the Making Connections for Youth program. Making Connections for Youth is a program created by the Hamlet in partnership with the Northern Communities Partnership Initiative, and was created in 2007. Working with the youth coordinator, community and business partners, the Hamlet of Pangnirtung, and local youth, the student Fellow will provide technical coding, gaming, and computer expertise; lead weekly club meetings; and create a plan to ensure the club’s longevity and ongoing support.

Environmental Wellness Project -

Waste management and waste diversion in Pangnirtung is a complicated issue. Pangnirtung operates its own landfill, in which waste decomposes at incredibly low rates due to the Arctic climate. The community’s location also makes transporting waste and recyclables out very difficult. Currently, the Hamlet’s only option to divert waste is controlled burning, which is both not environmentally friendly or sustainable. Burning waste is also undesirable due to its negative impacts on health. The Environmental Wellness intern works with the community, the University of Alberta GSIP program and Engage North staff to develop projects in accordance with the fellow’s academic background in Environmental Studies, Regional Planning or other related fields. As the Environmental Wellness intern, Yashashwinee Parmar works under the supervision of the Economic Development Officer to create plans focused on enhancing waste diversion in the community. These include using art as a form of waste education and diversion, developing guidelines on the storage of waste fuel and used oil, battery and scrap metal recycling feasibility, and a pop can recycling project with the community’s youth. See her blog for more information on her project and internship experience.