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Nunavut ( , Inuktitut: ᓄᓇᕗᑦ ) is the largest and newest federal territory of Canadamarker; it was separated officially from the Northwest Territoriesmarker on April 1, 1999 via the Nunavut Act and the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act, though the actual boundaries had been established in 1993. The creation of Nunavut – meaning "our land" in Inuktitut – resulted in the first major change to Canada's map since the incorporation of the new province of Newfoundlandmarker in 1949.

Nunavut comprises a major portion of Northern Canada, and most of the Canadian Arctic Archipelagomarker, making it the fourth-largest country subdivision in the world. The capital Iqaluitmarker (formerly "Frobisher Bay") on Baffin Islandmarker, in the east, was chosen by the 1995 capital plebiscite. Other major communities include the regional centres of Rankin Inletmarker and Cambridge Baymarker. Nunavut also includes Ellesmere Islandmarker to the north, as well as the eastern and southern portions of Victoria Islandmarker in the west and Akimiski Islandmarker in James Baymarker to the far south. Nunavut is both the least populated and the geographically largest of the provinces and territories of Canada. It has a population of 29,474, mostly Inuit, spread over an area the size of Western Europe. Nunavut is also home to the northernmost permanently inhabited place in the world, Alertmarker.


Northeast coast of Baffin Island.
Nunavut covers of land and of water in Northern Canada including part of the mainland, most of the Arctic Archipelago, and all of the islands in Hudson Baymarker, James Baymarker, and Ungava Baymarker (including the Belcher Islandsmarker) which belonged to the Northwest Territories. This makes it the fifth largest subnational entity (or administrative division) in the world. If Nunavut were a country, it would rank 15th in area. Nunavut has land borders with the Northwest Territories on several islands as well as the mainland, Manitobamarker to the south of the Nunavut mainland, Saskatchewanmarker to the southwest – thereby forming a quadripoint at with these three aforementioned regions – and a tiny land border with Newfoundland and Labrador on Killiniq Islandmarker. It also shares maritime borders with the provinces of Quebecmarker, Ontariomarker, and Manitoba and with Greenlandmarker.

Nunavut's highest point is Barbeau Peakmarker ( on Ellesmere Island. The population density is 0.015 persons per square kilometre, one of the lowest in the world. By comparison, Greenlandmarker, to the east, has approximately the same area and nearly twice the population.


The region now known as Nunavut has supported a continuous indigenous population for approximately 4,000 years. Most historians also identify the coast of Baffin Island with the Helluland described in Norse sagas, so it is possible that the inhabitants of the region had occasional contact with Norse sailors.

The written history of Nunavut begins in 1576. Martin Frobisher, while leading an expedition to find the Northwest Passage, thought he had discovered gold ore around the body of water now known as Frobisher Baymarker on the coast of Baffin Islandmarker. The ore turned out to be worthless, but Frobisher made the first recorded European contact with the Inuit. The contact was hostile, with both sides taking prisoners, who subsequently perished.

Other explorers in search of the elusive Northwest Passage followed in the 17th century, including Henry Hudson, William Baffin and Robert Bylot.

Cornwallismarker and Ellesmere Islands feature in the history of the Cold War in the 1950s. Concerned about the area's strategic geopolitical position, the federal government relocated Inuit from the High Arctic of northern Quebecmarker to Resolutemarker and Grise Fiordmarker. In the unfamiliar and hostile conditions, they faced starvation but were forced to stay. Forty years later, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples issued a report titled The High Arctic Relocation: A Report on the 1953-55 Relocation. The government paid compensation to those affected and their descendants, but it did not apologize. The story is told in Melanie McGrath's The Long Exile: A Tale of Inuit Betrayal and Survival in the High Arctic.

In 1976 as part of the land claims negotiations between the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (then called the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada) and the federal government, the division of the Northwest Territories was discussed. On April 14, 1982, a plebiscite on division was held throughout the Northwest Territories. A majority of the residents voted in favour and the federal government gave a conditional agreement seven months later. The land claims agreement was decided in September 1992 and ratified by nearly 85% of the voters in Nunavut. On July 9, 1993, the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act and the Nunavut Act were passed by the Canadian Parliamentmarker. The transition to establish Nunavut Territory was completed on April 1, 1999.

In September 2008, researchers reported the evaluation of existing and newly excavated archaeological remains, including yarn spun from a hare, rats, tally sticks, a carved wooden face mask depicting Caucasian features, and possible architectural material. The materials were collected in five seasons of excavation at Cape Banfield. Scholars have determined these are evidence of European traders and possibly settlers on Baffin Islandmarker not later than 1000 CE. They seem to indicate prolonged contact, possibly up to 1450 CE. The origin of the Old World contact is unclear; the article states: "Dating of some yarn and other artifacts, presumed to be left by Vikings on Baffin Island, have produced an age that predates the Vikings by several hundred years. So [...] you have to consider the possibility that as remote as it may seem, these finds may represent evidence of contact with Europeans prior to the Vikings' arrival in Greenland."


Ten largest communities
Municipality 2006 2001 growth
Iqaluitmarker 6,184 5,236 18.1%
Rankin Inletmarker 2,358 2,177 8.3%
Arviatmarker 2,060 1,899 8.5%
Baker Lakemarker 1,728 1,507 14.7%
Igloolikmarker 1,538 1,286 19.6%
Cambridge Baymarker 1,477 1,309 12.8%
Pangnirtungmarker 1,325 1,276 3.8%
Pond Inletmarker 1,315 1,220 7.8%
Kugluktukmarker 1,302 1,212 7.4%
Cape Dorsetmarker 1,236 1,148 7.7%

As of the 2006 Census the population of Nunavut was 29,474, with 24,640 people identifying themselves as Inuit (83.6% of the total population), 100 as First Nations (0.34%), 130 Métis (0.44%) and 4,410 as non-aboriginal (14.96%).


Along with Inuktitut; Inuinnaqtun, English, and French are also official languages.

In his 2000 commissioned report (Aajiiqatigiingniq Language of Instruction Research Paper) to the Nunavut Department of Education, Ian Martin of York Universitymarker states that a "long-term threat to Inuit language from English is found everywhere, and current school language policies and practices on language are contributing to that threat" if Nunavut schools follow the Northwest Territories model. He provides a 20-year language plan to create a "fully functional bilingual society, in Inuktitut and English" by 2020. The plan provides different models, including:
  • "Qulliq Model," for most Nunavut communities, with Inuktitut as the main language of instruction.
  • "Inuinnaqtun Immersion Model," for language reclamation and immersion to revitalize Inuinnaqtun as a living language.
  • "Mixed Population Model," mainly for Iqaluit (possibly for Rankin Inlet), as the 40% Qallunaat, or non-Inuit, population may have different requirements.
Inuk man, Arviat.

Of the 29,025 responses to the census question concerning 'mother tongue', the most commonly reported languages were:
1. Inuktitut 20,185 69.54%
2. English 7,765 26.75%
3. French 370 1.27%
4. Inuinnaqtun 295 1.02%
Only English and French were counted as official languages in the census. Nunavut's official languages are shown in bold. Figures shown are for the number of single-language responses and the percentage of total single-language responses.


The largest denominations by number of adherents according to the 2001 census were the Anglican Church of Canada with 15,440 (58%); the Roman Catholic Church with 6,205 (23%); and Pentecostal with 1,175 (4%).



Legislative assembly building in Iqaluit.
Nunavut's Chief Executive is a Commissioner appointed by the federal Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. As in the other territories, the commissioner's role is symbolic and is analogous to that of a Lieutenant-Governor. While the Commissioner is not formally a representative of Canada's head of state, a role roughly analogous to representing The Crown has accrued to the position.

The members of the unicameral Legislative Assembly of Nunavutmarker are elected individually; there are no parties and the legislature is consensus-based. The head of government, the premier of Nunavut, is elected by, and from the members of the legislative assembly. As of November 14, 2008, the premier is Eva Aariak.

Faced by criticism of his policies, former Premier Paul Okalik set up an advisory council of eleven elders, whose function it is to help incorporate "Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit" (Inuit culture and traditional knowledge, often referred to in English as "IQ") into the territory's political and governmental decisions.

Owing to Nunavut's vast size, the stated goal of the territorial government has been to decentralize governance beyond the region's capital. Three regionsKitikmeotmarker, Kivalliqmarker and Qikiqtaaluk/Baffinmarker—are the basis for more localized administration, although they lack autonomous governments of their own.

The territory has an annual budget of C$700 million, provided almost entirely by the federal government. Former Prime Minister Paul Martin designated support for Northern Canada as one of his priorities for 2004, with an extra $500 million to be divided among the three territories.

In 2001, the government of New Brunswick collaborated with the federal government and the technology firm SSI Micro to launch Qiniq, a unique network which uses satellite delivery to provide broadband Internet access to 24 communities in Nunavut. As a result, the territory was named one of the world's "Smart 25 Communities" in 2006 by the Intelligent Community Forum, a worldwide organization which honours innovation in broadband technologies.

Licence plates

Muskox on Victoria Island
The Nunavut licence plate, originally created for the Northwest Territories in the 1970s, which is shaped like a polar bear, has long been famous worldwide for its unique design. Nunavut opted to use the same licence plate design in 1999 when it became a separate territory.

Notable Nunavummiut

Susan Aglukark is an Inuit singer and song writer. She has released six albums and has won several Juno Awards. She blends the Inuktitut and English languages with contemporary pop music arrangements to tell the stories of her people, the Inuit of Arctic.

On May 3, 2008, the Kronos Quartet premiered a collaborative piece with Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq Gillis, entitled "Nunavut", which makes use of an Inuit folk story. Tagaq is also known internationally for her collaborations with Icelandicmarker pop star Björk.

Jordin John Kudluk Tootoo (Inuktitut syllabics: ᔪᐊᑕᓐ ᑐᑐ; born February 2, 1983 in Churchill, Manitobamarker, Canada) is a professional ice hockey player with the Nashville Predators of the National Hockey League. His middle name Kudluk (kalluk in standard Roman spelling) means "thunder." Although born in Manitoba, Tootoo grew up in Rankin Inlet, where he was taught to skate and play hockey by his father, Barney. Growing up in Rankin Inlet also allowed Tootoo to learn the traditional Inuit lifestyle that includes hunting and camping. As the first Inuk to play in the National Hockey League he has become a role model for youth in Nunavut.

See also


 Effective 12 November 2008.


  1. mirror
  2. See List of countries and outlying territories by total area
  3. CIA World Factbook
  4. Maple Leaf Web: Nunavut - The Story of Canada's Inuit People
  5. Grise Fiord: History
  6. McGrath, Melanie. The Long Exile: A Tale of Inuit Betrayal and Survival in the High Arctic. Alfred A. Knopf, 2006 (268 pages) Hardcover: ISBN 0007157967 Paperback: ISBN 0007157975
  7. The High Arctic Relocation: A Report on the 1953-55 Relocation by René Dussault and George Erasmus, produced by the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, published by Canadian Government Publishing, 1994 (190 pages)[1]
  8. Alfred A. Knopf, 2006 (268 pages) Hardcover: ISBN 0007157967 Paperback: ISBN 0007157975
  9. Jane George, "Kimmirut site suggests early European contact: Hare fur yarn, wooden tally sticks may mean visitors arrived 1,000 years ago", Nunatsiaq News, 12 Sept 2008, accessed 5 Oct 2009
  10. Detailed Mother Tongue (186), Knowledge of Official Languages (5), Age Groups (17A) (3) (2006 Census)
  11. Selected Religions, for Canada, Provinces and Territories - 20% Sample Data
  12. Wolfden Resources
  13. Miramar Reports Licensing for Doris North Gold Mine Progresses
  14. Miramar Announces Issuance of Water License for Doris North
  15. Meadowbank Hosts Canada’s Largest Open Pit Pure Gold Reserves
  16. Cumberland Announces Agreement with Government of Nunavut and Receipt of Nunavut Water Board Licence for Road Construction
  17. The NorTerra Group of Companies, corporate website
  18. Northern Transportation Company Limited at NorTerra, corporate website
  19. Nunavut licence plates 1999-present

Further reading

  • Alia, Valerie. Names and Nunavut Culture and Identity in Arctic Canada. New York: Berghahn Books, 2007. ISBN 1845451651
  • Henderson, Ailsa Nunavut: Rethinking Political Culture. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2007. ISBN 0774814233
  • Kulchyski, Peter Keith. Like the Sound of a Drum: Aboriginal Cultural Politics in Denendeh and Nunavut. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 2005. ISBN 0887551785
  • Sanna, Ellyn, and William Hunter. Canada's Modern-Day Aboriginal Peoples Nunavut & Evolving Relationships. Markham, Ont: Scholastic Canada, 2008. ISBN 9780779173228

External links

Tourism Journalism

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