More landslides expected in Little Whale River: Whapmagoostui, KRG

Two landslides are confirmed to have occurred in a river along Nunavik’s Hudson Coast last month, and the Whapmagoostui First Nation and Kativik Regional Government say more are to be expected.

So far, though, the groups haven’t released more information on why more are likely to occur or what the potential for damage to the surrounding environment might be.

On Oct. 31, a group travelling by plane over Little Whale River about 60 kilometres south of Umiujaq spotted “unusual landslide activity in the area,” according to a Nov. 17 joint news release from Whapmagoostui, KRG and the northern villages of Kuujjuaraapik and Umiujaq.

A survey of the river conducted Nov. 5 confirmed that two landslides occurred at the end of October: one about two kilometres, and the other about nine kilometres, from the mouth of Little Whale River, according to the release.

“Although the two landslides of October 2022 happened within a short period of time and are in the same stream system, it appears that one is not the cause of the other but merely coincidental,” the news release said.

It reported no clear data about the slides was available at the time.

The survey over the river found there had been some erosion, which can cause the riverbanks to become unstable.

“Additional landslides are expected in the coming seasons and beyond, especially in spring,” the groups said in the release.

“Debris from these landslides along with ice conditions in the channel and watershed may pose a risk for land users travelling along the valley, and using the river.”

Nunatsiaq News contacted spokespeople from Whapmagoostui First Nation and KRG for more information about risks, the potential for damage from future landslides and why more of them should be expected, but has not received a response at the time of publication.

The news release stated a “safety advisory with mapping” would be provided, however that advisory has not yet been published.

This is not the first time a major mudslide has been reported on Nunavik’s Hudson Coast.

In April 2021, a mudslide dumped 45 million cubic metres of debris into the Great Whale River, approximately eight kilometres upstream from the neighbouring communities of Kuujjuaraapik and Whapmagoostui.

At the time, KRG said it was the second-largest landslide in Quebec history.

Jeff Pelletier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Nunatsiaq News