Friday, November 12, 2010

Moving to Cape Dorset, Nunavut?

First off, thanks Morena for the help with the photos. It seems that I can now post them, but I am still having trouble moving them or placing captions on them. So, you'll just have to figure it out.

Moving to Cape Dorset?

We have been asked to put together a list of things you need or need to know about moving up here, many of which I wish I had known first. I am writing this from the perspective of a teacher who is moving to Nunavut because I can only speak from our experience. This is the sort of thing we will add to I am sure, but at this point it is more of a “don’t forget” list with bits and pieces I keep meaning to write down before I forget.

First off, ask questions of who is hiring you. They should have a package of info for you. Next, ask bloggers. We had so much help from Morena who writes the babies and bulldogs blog. Thanks Morena. Be sure to read this link from the townie bastard in Iqaluit as it is great.


Be sure to pack everything you need for up to two or more months. This includes clothes, outdoor clothing, bedding, bath stuff, basic kitchen things, stuff to set up your class and program, paperwork related to the move, cheques, cash, food (both dry and perishable). We brought three large rubbermaid type bins that helped. It was important for us to know that when we got here we would be able to eat the way we liked. It helped all of us transition into our new home. You are basically camping until your moving contents arrive, which may take a while. Remember, liquor is Restricted in Cape Dorset so you can't just pick something up when you get here. My students tell me the going rate for a mickey of bootlegged (illigal) hooch is running around $100. So, if you want booze you must go through the application process when you get here and brace yourself for the prices. A flat of 24 cans of beer bought legally is about $300 or about $13.00 each! Be sure to review what you are and are not entitled to in regards to moving expenses and keep your recipts. Also, be ready for a long wait to get reimbursed.

You arrange for your utlities at the hamlet and power, internet and cable at the northern store. To set up your phone, find a phone and contact northwest tel. Rent comes off your paycheque eventually.


Nunavut arranged to have packers/movers come to our house in small town southern BC. We had a packed a few things and we asked to stop packing because Nunavut wants to be sure we were not packing items that are prohibited (food, booze, etc…). They arranged for our things to be moved from our house in BC to our house in Nunavut. Be aware though, the packers we had were more focused on speed than ensuring our things got here safely. Get Insurance! We have head some moving horror stories. Also, it can take a while (up to a couple of months) for your things to get here.

The Sealift are goods that are shipped from down south on a large ship. Here is a link to Government of Nunavut that outlines it: . You can order your food and other goods through a company or pack it yourself and take it to the packaging company (TSC I think?). I don’t know much about this as we had a company arrange the shipping. However, it is much cheaper and you get a much better selection of goods putting together a sealift yourself. Some people stop off in Ottowa (?) and do their buying before they come up for the year. This way you can shop where you like and find the sales. You can also ship up large items like ATV, snowmobiles, furniture and vehicles. A friend just shipped up a 1 ton 4x4 6 passenger truck with duallies and a canopy for $5000. I have heard a small suv is about $2000 and a quad is about $400.

Online shopping:
Here are a few companies that do free shipping or have it included in their prices at this time:
Bestbuy Canada
Costco Canada
LL - this is the company we do our foodmail through. Food mail is a program that is going to be shut down in March that subsidizes the shipping of fresh, healthy food to the north. We are very upset about the loss of it. is a great store from nelson BC who carries real outdoor gear for kids. It is where we got most of Lily’s stuff. You do pay shipping though the rates are fair.

Helpful Hint:
Pay Canada Post $45 to have your mail forwarded to the school you are going to be working at. This way, anyone who ships you large, expensive care packages only has to pay to have it be shipped from a community near where you used to live to your old address, then Canada Post will ship it to your new address up here automatically and without additional charge. Really, it works.

Use all your shipping allotment! You only get it once and you can always sell stuff you bring up that you don’t use.

Bring your movies and music. We digitized all our cd's and sold them before we came to lessen the amount we traveled with.

Stuff you might need or want:

• Insulated rubber boots
• Ice Cleats that slip on over your winter boots. It gets very icy.
• High quality rain jacket and pants. We have helly hanson gear and love it! Thin fleece gloves for the shoulder season and a hat
• Windstopper fleece jackets (it’s always blowing up here, always)and a warm toque
• Good winter gear. Some people buy coats up here that are nice, but I opted for a Canada Goose Expedition Parka that is super warm. I did not want to leave a coat to chance.
• Hiking backpacks. You carry everything here so something designed to carry some weight, that’s durable and has a raincover
• If you plan on going out on the land or hiking, you need to be able to protect yourself. So be sure to get your firearms training course before you come and bring a gun/ammo. I brought a 12 gauge pump action shotgun. I chose this because ammo is readily available and rifled slugs have a lot of stopping power. At the very least, look into getting bear bangers. They make a very loud sound, require no special permits and are non-lethal.
• Binoculars are nice because there are so many pretty things to see.
• I brought along my snowboards and tools for maintaining them. I also got a snow kite because I want to have something fun to do in when it gets cold and snowy.
• We bought a Nintendo WII for fun. The dancing games are quite a hit with our friends.
• A small tabletop propane (the kind that takes the small tanks) BBQ. They sell them here but they’re very expensive. We are able to buy the small non-refilable tanks up here at both stores, but we have to ask customer service and sign for them. There is a problem with people inhaling or sniffing the gas and getting high.
• Instruments. If you play, bring something up. We brought my drum set and two guitars. I am now running a Drum club at school, the kid’s love it.
• Fishing gear if you enjoy it.
• Tools!!! At the least, bring a simple tool kit with the basics for stuff around your house. Also, bring a couple extension cords, power bars, misc nails, screws and drywall anchors. If you plan on getting an atv or snowmobile, get a better set of tools that include electrical repair stuff, chain and locks. Tools and hardware are so expensive up here.
• A shovel
• A large humidifier
• Various flashlights and a headlamp. It’s dark here.
• A high quality Camera, it’s pretty up here
• Folding nylon camp chairs. They come in handy.
• Fitness equipment.
• Goggles and high quality sunglasses
• Helmets if you plan on using a quad or atv
• We bought snowshoes and poles to go out and explore as a family but I hear that the snow is quite hard and we may not need them.

Kids stuff you might not think about
• A high quality jogging stroller.
• Rain clothes (good ones!)
• High quality winter gear, not the stuff from the department store. It’s worth spending more. We bought Molehill gear for Lily and it seems to be doing very well.
• Fun things for little ones room. The living arrangements are very white up here.
• Backpack for the little one. Yours is going to be full.
• A vehicle. I really regret not bring up an SUV. It costs about $2500 to ship one up but you can pack it with all your sealift goods along with extra fluids and tires. When it costs over $10,000 for a quad up here. When it is cold and blowing while pushing Lily in her stroller home or to school I wish I had brought a truck up. If you could pick something up down south in good shape for under $5000 and be into it for under $10,000 you could defiantly get your money out of it after a couple of years.
• Presents. Buy them before you move and put them in with your moving things.
• Foam play mat. The lino is hard.
• Lots of toys and games.
• A sled
• Books!
• Any baby or kid stuff you use in the kitchen
• Diapers, wipes, TP can all go in your moving allotment. We brought enough to last until Lily is out of diapers. I have heard Amazon does free diaper shipping, but I can’t confirm.
• Goggles for little one
• Sunglasses for little one. Good quality.

Household (if you are sharing a place, consider bringing up what you need anyways just in case they leave and take their things with them)
• Apartment sized deep freeze
• DRAPES AND RODS!!!! The furnished houses up here do not come with these.
• All things you need to have a happy kitchen.
• Bedding and pillows
• Storage. I wish we would have brought a cheap assemble it yourself bookshelf.
• Rubbermaid bins are always helpful
• Bring up good coffee
• If you are thinking of getting new electronics, wait until you get here because bestbuy Canada ships for free. So there is not point using your shipping allotment up.
• A wireless router if you need wireless in your house
• Mops, brooms, garbage cans, mop buckets and any other large items. Bulky things up here are more expensive
• Art. We brought some posters, pictures and a digital picture frame.
• Area rugs. They are small and break up the lino that covers our entire house.

• Long thin dog leashes to tie up your dogs. The nylon webbing style allows you to close the door with the metal clips in the house where they can stay warm.
• Dog crates to ship your pet up here
• Extra medications! There are no vets in Nunavut. You need to be self sufficient with your pet. You may want to bring up a hand sprayer for the bathroom also. It’s such a pain to give big dogs a bath without one.
• Nail clippers and quick stop
• Extra metal clips for leashes. The metal stair treads and cold and extremely hard on them. We seem to be breaking one every 2 months.
• Dog food. It is pricey up here for low quality kibble. It is worth a doing a sealift just for it. Toys and dog treats too.

School Stuff
• A good laptop is handy and most schools seem to be shifting to macs. You may get something old and dated. If you are a newer teacher, I suspect you use your computer a lot and want it to be able to run modern software, bring your newer laptop.
• Any and all resources you use or like. Don’t expect much to be at your school. Come prepared and self-contained.
• Stickers, prizes, consumables, class decoration. Bring anything you think is fun and would make your life nicer or prettier.
• An espresso maker for your class. I think every teacher should have one!
• Thing are pretty casual up here in regards to clothing. However, like down south some dress nicer than others. I tend to be a bit more casual with nice white skate shoes, jeans and good-looking t-shirt. On fancy days I wear a golf shirt. It’s about personal preference and for me, I like to be physical and play with the kids. I hate having to hold back because I am wearing expensive clothes. I worked at a fancy private school for a while and it was something I always disliked. Also, the thermostat is broken in my class, which makes it the hottest place in Nunavut, so I like to be comfy. I am planning on wearing my birks soon.

Well, it’s getting late and I need to go to bed. Take care and I hope this helps. Please add any and all things we missed to the comments section.



  1. Great post. I think I'll refer people to it next time I get a request for info. Bookshelves are a great suggestion. Our place came with things like that and I never thought about it. And thanks for the mention.

  2. Hi,
    you mention a few time BestBuy as offering free shipping. Do you have any experience with them shipping to Cape Dorset or Nunavut in general? The reason I ask is because of the fine print attached to their offer - free shipping is only for ground transport. I feel that once they find out shipping will involve air cargo, they will cancel any order.
    With regards to bookcases, last month we bought one from Costco for $140 - large and sturdy, shipped free to Iqaluit.

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  9. Movingis always thus thrilling!! I really hope the up coming duty place is close to an enormous area... absolutely skip the city life!

  10. I know you must get a lot of questions from random people on the internet, so I'm hoping you'll bear with me... I'm also a teacher and we're moving to Baffin Island. I'm feeling totally overwhelmed -- especially after reading this, as it sounds like you had much more help with moving than we're being offered. I believe we can only bring 8 pieces of luggage / 50 lbs each. Is that what you were dealing with, also? If you're willing to chat, please let me know. I feel like it's weird to ask, but this also seems to be one of those weird situations where only a few (relatively) have been through the process and know how it works. :)


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