Ittaq was established in 2005 when a group of Clyde River residents formed a ‘research committee’ in response to their interest in being more involved in growing research activities in Nunavut. The committee felt that Nunavut communities should play a stronger role in research and research leadership. They felt that Clyde River had many resources and skills to offer research projects and that a research centre could be a new economic development opportunity for the community.
In 2006, the research committee proposed the idea of establishing a local research centre to the Clyde River Hamlet Council and the idea was met with strong approval. In collaboration with Hamlet Council, Ilisaqsivik Society, and Aarruja Development Corporation, the committee identified an abandoned building in town as the future home of the research centre and later that year was successful in securing funds to purchase the space. During that time the committee re-conceptualized the building as not only a research centre, but a place to showcase local heritage, support cultural and heritage programming, and create a much needed visitor centre and place to archive our local history. Thus the idea of a heritage and research centre was born.
In 2007 the now ‘research and heritage centre committee’ held a community-wide contest to name the new centre and create a logo. The winning pick was “Ittaq”, and the logo you see on our website. The name “Ittaq” was chosen because of its dual meaning as a reference to something from old times (fitting our goals of supporting heritage), and a sealskin tent. One of the Elders on our committee noted that we were starting out with a small building, it kind of looked like a sealskin tent, but though small and in need of fixing up, it’s importance should not be underestimated. The sealskin tent, ittaq, was very important to Inuit.
In 2007, we took on our first major research collaboration with Natural Resources Canada and since then have worked with many visiting researchers on diverse projects We have also supported a number of heritage projects in the community. To help handle our growing activities and the demand for our services, we hired our first full time employee, Gordon Kautuk, as the Ittaq Coordinator in early 2009.
Today, the Ittaq Heritage and Research Centre is overseen by a volunteer committee of nine people, six of whom are original founding members. Through various grants and contributions we continue to renovate our building. Our goal is to have a comfortable, safe, and efficient space for supporting research (including workspace, computers, science laboratory, storage, and library) and heritage (including material culture displays, meeting space, and educational resources). We have made significant progress to date, including our media centre which includes a professional soundbooth and video editing suite. We look forward to continuing to work on many diverse projects and growing our centre.