The May Hakongak Community Library and Cultural Centre was opened in May 2002 in Cambridge Bay. The centre shares a building with the Kiilinik High School and supports a fully integrated school/public library, cultural centre, museum, art gallery and archives. One of the first of its kind in the Canadian Arctic, our cultural centre aims to create a venue in which traditional and modern forms of knowledge are seamlessly brought together through various museum exhibits, elder-run workshops and after-school programs. Despite serving Cambridge Bay as a fully functional library, our centre also strives to strengthen cultural, historical, and technological dimensions of community literacy. Our facility provides one of Cambridge Bay’s only sources for accessible public Internet, after-school reading programs, sewing and traditional tool making workshops, and viewing community-based documentary films. A team of elders works on site at the centre on a daily basis to help youth develop traditional skills and language, and assist in research projects.
The Cultural centre has a small museum interpreting different aspects of Inuinnait history and material culture. Its displays and dioramas are based on traditional knowledge recorded by the Kitikmeot Heritage Society, as well as traditional technologies developed during the heritage society’s many landcamps and workshops. The museum also displays important collections of early twentieth century artifacts on loan from the Canadian Museum of Civilization and Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre.
Take a virtual tour of the May Hakongak Centre
Our centre was named in memory of May Hakongak. May Hakongak was born on May 26th, 1918 near a place called Kiluhitok. A single mother of 8 children, she firmly believed in the value of education and ensured that all of her children attended school. She also encouraged them to maintain strong ties to the land and to their culture by sending as much time as possible with them in Bathurst Inlet and Bay Chimo. Sadly, May passed away on 1999. She is dearly missed and will forever remain in the hearts and memories of the people of Cambridge Bay.