Nunavut, in the Inuktitut language, means “our land”. When Google Maps teamed up with the nonprofit Nunavut Tunngavik Inc to improve the maps of Canada’s Arctic, our aim was to help the people of Canada’s most northern territory build a map that accurately reflects the land they know so well.

Today, as we celebrate Nunavut Day, we’re thrilled to share these new maps and Street View imagery from the snowy streets, snowmobile trails and dog sled runs of Nunavut’s capital, Iqaluit.

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Looking out over the city of Iqaluit with Google Maps

“You should see this place in the winter!” 
The Google Maps team heard that a lot last summer when we were first invited north of the Arctic circle to help build the map of Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. Considering that average temperatures remain below freezing for eight months of the year, we made sure that for our next trip we would bundle up and head north to experience Canada’s Arctic winter.

A Street View ride behind a dog sled across Frobisher Bay

If you’re up for a wintery tour of Iqaluit, start at the “Four Corners,” Iqaluit’s business intersection down the road from Canada’s northernmost Tim Horton’s. Walk down the street towards the Visitor’s Center and the museum, duck into an igloo built by locals, and then take a dogsledding trip out onto the frozen Frobisher Bay.

Abandoned Hudson’s Bay Co. cabins near Apex

Go for a hike past the cemetery towards the Hudson Bay Co. cabins, or check out the Road to Nowhere. Or perhaps take a walk along the Road to Apex, which also happens to be the best place to view the northern lights at night.

Nunavut Legislative Assembly

Visit the Nunavut Legislative Assembly or take in the sites of the Middle School and St. Jude’s Church (which is shaped like an igloo!)

Nunavut’s Citizen Cartographers
To make sure the map of Iqaluit is as accurate as possible, we conducted a Community Map Up at the Iqaluit Centennial Library.  Small business owners, elders, high school students and interested citizens gathered around computers and used Map Maker to add roads, trails and several points of interest to the Google Map of Iqaluit and Canada's north. Because Map Maker supports Inuktitut, residents could use one of Nunavut’s official languages while making edits to the map.

Iqaluit residents participate in a MapUp at the local library

When it came to collecting Street View imagery from the frozen streets of Iqaluit, the Trekker backpack was worn by members of the Google Maps team and Chris Kalluk, a Nunavut resident and mapping expert with Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.

Chris Kalluk, Nunavut resident, hikes the streets of Iqaluit wearing the Trekker Street View backpack.

From the addition of new roads and buildings to the collection of Street View imagery, the Google Map of Iqaluit is very much a map built by the community. In Nunavut, the map user is now the map maker.  “Nunavut is a place with a vast amount of local knowledge and a rich history,”  as Eva Aariak, the Premier of Nunavut, puts it. “By putting modern day cartography tools into the hands of our people, we can improve the digital map of our home and effectively share Nunavut’s story with a global audience.”

ᓄᓇᕗᑦ ᐅᓪᓗᖓᓂᒃ ᓇᓪᓕᐅᓂᕐᓯᐅᑦᓯᐊᕆᑦ!
Happy Nunavut Day!

Aaron Brindle, Arctic Project Manager, Google Canada