The name, which means “place of iglus/houses,” refers to the old sod houses that can be found on the island. The island has many archaeological sites, some dating back to over 4,000 years. First contact with Europeans came in 1822 when William Edward Parry wintered on the island with the British ships Fury and Hecla. By the end of the 1930’s the Hudson’s Bay Company had set up a post on the island. Traders and missionaries arrived, a church was built, and the traditional lives of Inuit started to rapidly change. The village as people know it today dates from the late 1950’s when Inuit from surrounding camps started to settle into town. Families who did not want settle were forced by the government to relocate into town.
Today Igloolik is a community of approximately 1,600 people. The island is located near the largest walrus population in the Eastern Arctic. Walrus hunting has been part of the traditions of the Igloolik region for thousands of years. The area is famous for its igunaq, walrus meat that has been aged and fermented over many months. Igloolimiut also sell and export this highly prized delicacy around the territory. Igloolik is also a famous media town. The Inuit Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) station in Igloolik has been producing quality programming in Inuktitut by Inuit since the early 1980’s. Future founders of Isuma Paul Apak Angilirq, Zacharias Kunuk and Pauloosie Qulitalik all had their beginnings at the IBC. It is the home of Isuma, the first Inuit-owned film production company, and Arnait, the women’s video collective producing this film. Igloolik is also home to Artcirq, Nunavut’s first circus group. Radio also plays a prominent role in the community. The Igloolik public radio is known for the quality of its programs, and is streamed live on the Internet and listened to by many people in other Nunavut communities.