Vehicle, bicycle and motorcycle travelers can now reach one of the Arctic’s most isolated hamlets, Tuktoyaktuk, via the newly completed Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway. This all-weather gravel road, part of the massive Dempster Highway, allows access to the village, previously only accessible via an ice road (made famous by the TV series “Ice Road Truckers”).
Because of its newfound accessibility, “Tuk,” as it’s affectionately known, is expecting an influx of tourists, to the tune of “tens of thousands” this summer. There are some challenges, however. “We encourage people to visit Tuktoyaktuk, but we’re concerned about facilities,” said Annie Steen, Economic Development Officer for Tuk. “We are doing some aggressive planning, but we do not yet have hotels, campgrounds, or traditional restaurants. We are also tackling waste issues.”
Rapid and drastic measures are needed if Tuk is to develop sustainable tourism, but equipping it requires resources. While some support is coming from various levels of government, other support is the product of individual initiatives by people who love the North.
Cemil Alyanak, a Maryland-based filmmaker, long-time adventure motorcyclist and ham radio operator (callsign K3MRI), is raising funds with a GoFundMe campaign to print thousands of stickers with the tagline “I Made it to Tuk!” that he will then donate to the Tuk authorities. In turn, the Tuktoyaktuk Hamlet Council will sell these stickers to visitors. The money earned from the sale will help fund responsible tourism in Tuktoyaktuk.
About the “I Made it to Tuk!” sticker:
The sticker was designed by Cemil Alyanak. The sun represents Tuk’s 24-hour summer sun–a.k.a., the Midnight Sun. The thinning ice under the polar bear represents the melting of the ice cap due to climate change. The number is the latitude of Tuktoyaktuk. Last but not least, in looking for a good phrase, the designer thought that it would be nice for visitors to be able to brag that they had made it all the way up the Dempster, as far as Tuk, on the shores of the Arctic Ocean. Few people have that bragging right.