Inuvik – “place of man” – is located on the East Channel of the Mackenzie Delta. It was founded in 1955, and is the administrative centre for the Western Arctic. Aklavik, the traditional centre, was subject to yearly flooding and erosion, hence, it could not support the needed infrastructure for such a role. The Inuvik region was selected because it provided a large and level area that sits well above flood levels, has a large supply of gravel for construction and is adjacent to a navigable waterway. It is composed of three major physiographic regions: the Mackenzie Delta, the Caribou Hills and the Anderson Plains.
The town itself is situated on a river terrace in the Mackenzie Delta. Over the last 40 years Inuvik has grown from a government centre to a communications hub, as well as the transportation, health and education centre for the region. During the summer Inuvik is a popular destination for tourists who fly in or drive up the Dempster Highway. The economy of the town has also benefited from oil and gas exploration over the past three decades.
Inuvik is Canada’s largest settlement north of the Arctic Circle, with an approximate population of 3,300. Forty percent of the population are non-aboriginal, 37 percent are of Inuvialuit descent, 14 percent are of Gwich’in descent and seven percent are Metis.