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IGLUMINIMNUT AILIRAMA 

RETURNING HOME

While many Inuinnait elders were born in igluit or snow houses, the structures fell out of common use during the 1960s as government settlement programs increased. The removal of Inuit youth to residential schools and a diminished reliance on hunting and being on the land meant that knowledge surrounding the construction and use of igluit began to decline. 

In February of 2012, PI/KHS organized a project to bring together 25 Cambridge Bay Elders and residential school survivors to rediscover the art of iglu making.  While initially focused on documenting structural design, the project navigated a larger field of environmental and material knowledge essential to creating a comfortable life in the dwellings: the construction and use of qulliit soapstone lamps to provide and regulate heat and light within the structure; assessing the quality of snow to determine its suitability as a construction material; and the maintenance of iglu interiors to manage the effects of heating and humidity. 

The team spent three weeks building and documenting various styles of iglu ranging from overnight shelters to single family dwellings and a large communal dance house.