Landslides deemed “significant” but pose no danger to village in Arctic Quebec

A photo of one of the landslides near Kuujjuaraapik, an Inuit village in northern Quebec. (Doreen E George/Courtesy Kativik Regional Government)
Two landslides near the village of Kuujjuaraapik in Arctic Quebec have been deemed “significant” by authorities but pose no immediate danger to the community.

The events happened on Thursday and affected a thick clay soil zone near the village.

Approximately 686 people live in Kuujjuaraapik, a fly-in, Inuit community on the eastern coast of Hudson Bay.

The municipal office in the village said no one was immediately available for comment on Monday, but authorities from the Kativik Regional Government (KRG), the administrative body in the Inuit region of Nunavik where Kuujjuaraapik  is located, said community members’ main concerns were environmental ones.

“A considerable amount of debris descended into the Great Whale River approximately 9 kilometres upstream from the village,” KRG said in a news release, referring to the body of water near the village.

“The community feared that the debris could damn the river, which could easily break, creating a wave that would rapidly flood the community.”

Flooding unlikely, monitoring underway

The Kativik Regional Government’s Civil Security Department, the mayor, representatives of the village and experts from the University of Laval have all met to evaluate the event, KRG said.

“Two significant landslides occurred on Thursday near Kuujjuaraapik causing more fear than harm to a community who expressed concerns over the potential environmental impact of the unexpected event,” the Kativik Regional Government (KRG) said in a news release. The KRG building is pictured here in Kuujjuaq, Quebec. (Eilís Quinn/Eye on the Arctic)

They’ve determined that that the community’s location, 10 metres above water level, means major flooding is unlikely. The neighbouring Cree community of Whapmagoostui is also said to not be affected.

However, monitoring is still underway.

The ground surrounding the landslide area is still considered unstable and secondary landslides are still possible, KRG said.

Kuujjuaraapik’s mayor, Anthony Ittoshat, said he was reassured the situation was under control, but had urged Quebec’s Ministry of Transportation and the Ministry of Public Security to send “at least one expert” to the community this week to further evaluate the site, the news release said.

Quebec’s Ministry of Transportation and Ministry of Public Security did not respond before deadline on Monday to whether they’d be granting the request.

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Landslides on island in Arctic Canada up 6,000% since 1984, study finds, CBC News

Greenland: Greenland ice cores reveal historic climate clues, says study, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: New climate report predicts extreme warming for Arctic Svalbard by 2100, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: The island that disappeared in Arctic Russia, The Independent Barents Observer

United States: Climate change a threat to bases across the U.S., Defense Dept. says, Alaska Public Media

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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