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Cape Dorset votes to revert to a traditional name — Kinngait

Kinngait is now the eleventh Nunavut community to revert its name. The last community to officially change back to an Inuktitut name was Naujaat in 2015, previously known as Repulse Bay.

Kinngait means 'where the hills are'; community voted in a plebiscite Monday

Cape Dorset has voted to change its name back to a traditional name, Kinngait, which means where the hills are in Inuktitut. (Travis Burke/CBC)

Cape Dorset has joined many other Nunavut communities in reverting back to a traditional community name. 

In a plebiscite on Monday, the community voted to stop using the name Cape Dorset in favour Kinngait. The ballot also had options for Sikusilaq and Cape Dorset. 

On a community Facebook page, the returning officer Josephee Oqutaq posted a breakdown of the results. Kinngait won with 80 votes, Cape Dorset came in second with 61 votes and Sikusilaq followed with 51 votes. 

The community is now the eleventh Nunavut community to change its name. The last community to officially change back to an Inuktitut name was Naujaat in 2015, previously known as Repulse Bay.

"Hamlet of Kinngait will be the new name," said Timoon Toonoo, Mayor of Cape Dorset. "It's no longer hamlet of Cape Dorset."

But it will be a while before the name is officially changed. The mayor and council needs to endorse the outcome of the plebiscite and move a motion to change the name. The council will then send a letter to the Nunavut minister of Community Government and Services, formally requesting the change.

"[Kinngait] means where the hills are," said Toonoo. "That's the traditional name from the people who lived in that area." 

Toonoo said the council has their work ahead of them in getting people to embrace the name and will be promoting the use of it. 

"We are going to have to do a lot of promotion and promotional items," said Toonoo. "Some changes in our letterheads and some other stuff."

Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated has been a large supporter of communities embracing their traditional names. 

About the Author

Jackie McKay

Reporter

Jackie McKay is a Métis journalist working for CBC in Nunavut. She has worked as a reporter in Thunder Bay, Yellowknife, Whitehorse and Iqaluit. Jackie also worked on CBC Radio One shows including The Current, Metro Morning after graduating from Ryerson University in 2017. Follow her on Twitter @mckayjacqueline.