Park Protection for Nunavik’s Incredible Beauty
Robert Fréchette – Kativik Regional Government
Nunavik covers one third of the province of Québec, possessing 20 of its 43 identified natural regions. Each natural region is endowed with unique geology, topography, climate, wildlife and flora.
Today in Nunavik, three magnificent areas are at different stages of being transformed into parks. These are Pingualuit, Kuururjuaq and the Richmond Gulf–Clearwater Lake area. Parks are expected to encourage tourism by facilitating access to some of the region’s most spectacular natural attractions. Eco-tourism activities are founded on respect for the environment and local management, and may be easily integrated into a park structure.
Parc national des Pingualuit
Created by the Québec government in December 2003, the official opening of this park to visitors was marked in November 2007.
As its name suggests, the centrepiece of this park is the Pingualuit Crater. This crater was blasted into the Ungava Peninsula by a meteorite roughly 1.4 million years ago. Situated 88 km south-west of the community of Kangiqsujuaq, the walls of the circular crater created by that impact still cast an imposing shadow over the surrounding plateau of lakes and tundra. To Inuit, this place is known as Pingualuit (where the land rises).
The crater is 3.4 km in diameter and 400 m deep, while the lake which occupies the basin is an impressive 267 m deep, a depth comparable to most parts of Hudson Bay. The purity of this lake water is renowned throughout the world for its unique qualities: utterly colourless, odourless and tasteless. It has a salinity level of less than 3 parts per million; that of the Great Lakes is 500 parts per million. In terms of transparency, it is second only to Lake Masyuko in Japan. With neither inlet nor apparent outlet, water accumulates in the basin through precipitation, in the form of rain and snow. It has been estimated that the residence time of each drop of water in the lake is 330 years.
Although in a glass, the lake's water appears colourless, from above it is dark blue in summer and a cobalt shade in fall when the shoreline is lightly sprinkled with snow. In winter and spring, ice and snow blanket the landscape.
Kangiqsujuaq is the starting point par excellence for any excursion to the crater, whether in summer or winter.
Parc national Kuururjuaq
Kativik Regional Government
At the northern tip of the Québec–Labrador Peninsula lies a mountain range that has some of the highest peaks in eastern Canada: the Torngat Mountains. This region is a place of legend, believed by Inuit to be inhabited by venerated and malevolent spirits. The Koroc River, which finds its source in the Torngat Mountains, flows through a deep valley and travels some 160 km all the way to Ungava Bay. For thousands of years, the Inuit have used this valley (named Kuururjuaq) as a travel route between the coasts of Ungava Bay and the Labrador Sea, as well as a seasonal home for fishing and various other wildlife harvesting activities. The forested valley of the Koroc River is an oasis in the heart of the tundra that sustains a unique variety of wildlife unusual for this latitude.
Situated along the eastern coast of Ungava Bay, not far from the community of Kangiqsualujjuaq, the territory of the park covers 4274 square kilometres. It comprises representative sections of three natural regions, which is to say the Torngat Mountain Foothills, the George River Plateau and the Ungava Coast.
Kangiqsualujjuaq is the starting point par excellence for any excursion through the valley of the Koroc River, whether in summer or winter.
For more information about Nunavik parks, visit www.nunavikparks.ca.