Nunavut (/ˈnuːnəˌvuːt/; French: [nynavy(t)]; Inuktitut
syllabics ᓄᓇᕗᑦ [ˈnunavut]) is the newest, largest, and
northernmost territory of Canada. It was separated officially from the
Northwest Territories on April 1, 1999, via the
Nunavut Act and the
Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act, though the boundaries had been
contemplatively drawn in 1993. The creation of
Nunavut resulted in the
first major change to Canada's political map since the incorporation
of the province of
Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador in 1949.
Nunavut comprises a major portion of Northern Canada, and most of the
Arctic Archipelago. Its vast territory makes it the
fifth-largest country subdivision in the world, as well as North
America's second-largest (after Greenland). The capital Iqaluit
(formerly "Frobisher Bay"), on
Baffin Island in the east, was chosen
by the 1995 capital plebiscite. Other major communities include the
regional centres of
Rankin Inlet and Cambridge Bay.
Ellesmere Island to the far north, as well as the eastern and
southern portions of Victoria Island in the west and Akimiski Island
James Bay far to the southeast of the rest of the territory. It is
Canada's only geo-political region that is not connected to the rest
of North America by highway.
Nunavut is the largest in area and the second-least populous of
Canada's provinces and territories. One of the world's most remote,
sparsely settled regions, it has a population of 35,944, mostly
Inuit, spread over an area of just over 1,750,000 km2
(680,000 sq mi), or slightly smaller than Mexico.
also home to the world's northernmost permanently inhabited place,
Alert. A weather station farther down Ellesmere Island, Eureka,
has the lowest average annual temperature of any Canadian weather
Niungvaliruluit ("pointer like a window") inuksuk, Foxe peninsula,
3.2 First written historical accounts
3.3 Cold War
3.4 Recent history
5.1 Mining and exploration
5.2 Advancing mining projects
5.3 Historic mines
5.5 Renewable power
6 Government and politics
6.1 Licence plates
6.2 Flag and coat of arms
7.4 Performing arts
7.5 Nunavummiut (notable people)
8 See also
11 Further reading
12 External links
Nunavut means "our land" in Inuktitut.
Main article: Geography of Nunavut
Nunavut covers 1,877,787 km2 (725,018 sq mi) of land
and 160,935 km2 (62,137 sq mi) of water in Northern
Canada. The territory includes part of the mainland, most of the
Arctic Archipelago, and all of the islands in Hudson Bay, James Bay,
and Ungava Bay, including the Belcher Islands, 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,
Manitoba to the south of the Nunavut
Saskatchewan to the southwest (at a single four-corner
point), and a small land border with
Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador on
Killiniq Island and with
Ontario in two small locations in James Bay:
the larger located west of Akimiski Island, and the smaller around the
Albany River near Fafard Island. It also shares maritime borders with
Greenland and the provinces of Quebec, Ontario, and Manitoba.
Nunavut's highest point is
Barbeau Peak (2,616 m (8,583 ft))
on Ellesmere Island. The population density is 0.019 persons/km2
(0.05 persons/sq mi), one of the lowest in the world. By
Greenland has approximately the same area and nearly twice
Köppen climate types in Nunavut
Nunavut experiences a polar climate in most regions, owing to its high
latitude and lower continental summertime influence than areas to the
west. In more southerly continental areas very cold subarctic climates
can be found, due to July being slightly milder than the required
10 °C (50 °F).
Average daily maximum and minimum temperatures for selected locations
Main article: History of Nunavut
See also: Paleo-Eskimo, Pre-Dorset, Dorset culture, Thule people, and
Inuit women at Ashe Inlet, 1884.
The region now known as
Nunavut has supported a continuous indigenous
population for approximately 4,000 years. Most historians identify the
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.
In September 2008, researchers reported on the evaluation of existing
and newly excavated archaeological remains, including yarn spun from a
hare, rats, tally sticks, a carved wooden face mask that depicts
Caucasian features, and possible architectural material. The materials
were collected in five seasons of excavation at Cape Tanfield.
Scholars determined that these provide evidence of European traders
and possibly settlers on Baffin Island, not later than 1000 CE (and
thus older than or contemporaneous with L'Anse aux Meadows). They seem
to indicate prolonged contact, possibly up to 1450. 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."
Inuit village near Frobisher Bay, 1865
First written historical accounts
The written historical accounts of
Nunavut begin in 1576, with an
account by English explorer Martin Frobisher. While leading an
expedition to find the Northwest Passage, Frobisher thought he had
discovered gold ore around the body of water now known as Frobisher
Bay on the coast of Baffin Island. The ore turned out to be
worthless, but Frobisher made the first recorded European contact with
the Inuit. Other explorers in search of the elusive Northwest Passage
followed in the 17th century, including Henry Hudson, William Baffin
and Robert Bylot.
Cornwallis and Ellesmere Islands featured in the history of the Cold
War in the 1950s. Concerned about the area's strategic geopolitical
position, the federal government relocated
Inuit from Nunavik
(northern Quebec) to Resolute and Grise Fiord. 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 descendents and on August 18, 2010 in
Inukjuak, Nunavik, the Honourable John Duncan, PC, MP, previous
Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal
Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians apologized on behalf of
the Government of
Canada for the relocation of
Inuit to the High
Glacially polished banded coloured marble on Baffin Island.
Discussions on dividing the
Northwest Territories along ethnic lines
began in the 1950s, and legislation to do this was introduced in 1963.
After its failure a federal commission recommended against such a
measure. In 1976, as part of the land claims negotiations between
Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (then called the "
Inuit Tapirisat of
Canada") and the federal government, the parties discussed division of
Northwest Territories to provide a separate territory for the
Inuit. 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
The land claims agreement was completed in September 1992 and ratified
by nearly 85% of the voters in
Nunavut in a referendum. On July 9,
Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act and the
were passed by the Canadian Parliament. The transition to establish
Nunavut Territory was completed on April 1, 1999. The creation of
Nunavut has been followed by growth in the capital, Iqaluit—a modest
increase from 5,200 in 2001 to 6,600 in 2011.
Main article: Demographics of Nunavut
See also: List of municipalities in Nunavut
As of the 2016
Canada Census, the population of
Nunavut was 35,944, a
12.7% increase from 2011. In 2006, 24,640 people identified
Inuit (83.6% of the total population), 100 as First
Nations (0.34%), 130 Métis (0.44%) and 4,410 as non-aboriginal
Ten largest communities
The population growth rate of
Nunavut has been well above the Canadian
average for several decades, mostly due to birth rates significantly
higher than the Canadian average—a trend that continues. Between
2011 and 2016,
Nunavut had the highest population growth rate of any
Canadian province or territory, at a rate of 12.7%. The
second-highest was Alberta, with a growth rate of 11.6%.
Along with the
Inuit Language (
Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun) sometimes
called Inuktut, English and French are also official
In his 2000 commissioned report (Aajiiqatigiingniq Language of
Instruction Research Paper) to the
Nunavut Department of Education,
Ian Martin of
York University stated a "long-term threat to Inuit
languages from English is found everywhere, and current school
language policies and practices on language are contributing to that
Nunavut schools follow the
Northwest Territories model. He
provided 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
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
Of the 29,025 responses to the census question concerning 'mother
tongue', the most commonly reported languages were:
Number of respondents
At the time of the census, only English and French were counted as
official languages. Figures shown are for single-language responses
and the percentage of total single-language responses.
In the 2006 census it was reported that 2,305 people (7.86%) living in
Nunavut had no knowledge of either official language of Canada
(English or French).
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 (Roman Catholic Diocese of Churchill-Hudson Bay) with
6,205 (23%); and Pentecostal with 1,175 (4%). In total, 93.2% of
the population were Christian.
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The economy of
Inuit and Territorial Government, mining,
oil gas mineral exploration, arts crafts, hunting, fishing, whaling,
tourism, transportation, education -
Arctic College, housing,
military and research – new Canadian High
Arctic Research Station
CHARS in planning for
Cambridge Bay and high north Alert Bay Station.
Iqaluit hosts the annual
Nunavut Mining Symposium every April, this is
a tradeshow that showcases many economic activities on going in
Mining and exploration
There are currently three major mines in operation in Nunavut.
Agnico-Eagle Mines Ltd – Meadowbank Division. Meadowbank is an open
pit gold mine with an estimated mine life 2010–2020 and employs 680
persons. The second recently opened mine in production is the Mary
River Iron Ore mine operated by Baffinland Iron Mines. It is located
Pond Inlet on North Baffin Island. They produce a high grade
direct ship iron ore.
The most recent mine to open is Doris North or the Hope Bay Mine
operated by TMAC Resource Ltd. This new high grade gold mine is the
first in a series of potential mines in gold occurrences all along the
Hope Bay greenstone belt.
Advancing mining projects
In the region of
Amaruq and Meliadine
Back River Project
Gold & Silver Corp.
Izok Corridor Project
MMG Resources Inc.
Gold, Copper, Silver, Zinc
Copper, Lead, Silver, Zinc
Peregrine Diamonds Ltd.
Iqaluit / Pangnirtung
Committee Bay, Three Bluffs
Auryn Resources Inc
Ulu and Lupin
Elgin Mining Ltd.
Contwoyto Lake - connected to
Yellowknife with an ice road
Storm Copper Property
Aston Bay Holdings
Lupin Mine 1982–2005, gold, current owner Elgin Mining Ltd located
Northwest Territories boundary near Contwoyto Lake)
Polaris Mine 1982–2002, lead and zinc (located on Little Cornwallis
Island, not far from Resolute)
Nanisivik Mine 1976–2002, lead and zinc, prior owner Breakwater
Resources Ltd (near
Arctic Bay) at Nanisivik
Rankin Nickel Mine 1957–1962, nickel, copper and platinum group
Jericho Diamond Mine
Jericho Diamond Mine 2006–2008, diamond (located 400 km,
250 mi, northeast of Yellowknife) 2012 produced diamonds from
existing stockpile. No new mining; closed.
Newmont Mining approx 3 km (2 mi)
underground drifting/mining, none milled or processed. Newmont closed
the mine and sold it to TMAC Resources in 2013. TMAC has now reached
commercial production in 2017.
Northern Transportation Company Limited, owned by Norterra, a holding
company that was, until April 1, 2014, jointly owned by the Inuvialuit
Northwest Territories and the
Inuit of Nunavut.
Global warming in the Arctic
Open ocean absorbs more sunshine, while sea ice, shown here in
Nunavut, reflects more, accelerating freezing.
Nunavut's people rely primarily on diesel fuel to run generators
and heat homes, with fossil fuel shipments from southern
plane or boat because there are few to no roads or rail links to the
region. There is a government effort to use more renewable energy
sources, which is generally supported by the community.
This support comes from
Nunavut feeling the effects of global
Eva Aariak said in 2011,
Climate change is very much upon us. It is affecting our hunters, the
animals, the thinning of the ice is a big concern, as well as erosion
from permafrost melting." The region is warming about twice as
fast as the global average, according to the UN's Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change.
Government and politics
Legislative assembly building in Iqaluit
Nunavut has a Commissioner appointed by the federal Minister of
Indigenous and Northern Affairs. 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
The Crown has accrued to the position.
Nunavut elects a single member of the House of Commons of Canada. This
Nunavut the largest electoral district in the world by area.
The members of the unicameral
Legislative Assembly of Nunavut
Legislative Assembly of Nunavut 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 17, 2017, the Premier is Paul Quassa. 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.
Due to the territory's small population, and the fact that there are
only a few hundred voters in each electoral district, the possibility
of two election candidates finishing in an exact tie is significantly
higher than in any Canadian province. This has actually happened twice
in the five elections to date, with exact ties in
Akulliq in the
Nunavut general election, 2008
Nunavut general election, 2008 and in
Rankin Inlet South in the
Nunavut general election, 2013. In such an event, Nunavut's practice
is to schedule a follow-up by-election rather than choosing the
winning candidate by an arbitrary method. The territory has also had
numerous instances where MLAs were directly acclaimed to office as the
only person to register their candidacy by the deadline, as well as
one instance where a follow-up by-election had to be held due to no
candidates registering for the regular election in their district at
Ceremony on the occasion of the foundation of Nunavut, April 1, 1999
Regions of Nunavut
Owing to Nunavut's vast size, the stated goal of the territorial
government has been to decentralize governance beyond the region's
capital. Three regions—Kitikmeot, Kivalliq and
Qikiqtaaluk/Baffin—are the basis for more localized administration,
although they lack autonomous governments of their own.[citation
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
In 2001, the government of New Brunswick collaborated
with the federal government and the technology firm
SSI Micro to
launch Qiniq, a unique network that 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 that
honours innovation in broadband technologies. The
Library Services, the public library system serving the territory,
also provides various information services to the territory.
In September 2012, Premier Aariak welcomed Prince Edward and Sophie,
Countess of Wessex, to
Nunavut as part of the events marking the
Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.
Nunavut licence plate was originally created for the Northwest
Territories in the 1970s. The plate has long been famous worldwide for
its unique design in the shape of a polar bear.
Nunavut was licensed
by the NWT to use the same licence plate design in 1999 when it became
a separate territory, but adopted its own plate design in March
2012 for launch in August 2012—a rectangle that prominently features
the northern lights, a polar bear and an inuksuk.
Flag and coat of arms
The flag and the coat of arms of
Nunavut were designed by Andrew
Karpik from Pangnirtung.
Inuit drum dancing, Gjoa Haven, Nunavut
Main article: Music of Nunavut
The indigenous music of
Inuit throat singing and
drum-led dancing, along with country music, bluegrass, square dancing,
the button accordion and the fiddle, an infusion of European
Inuit Broadcasting Corporation is based in Nunavut. The Canadian
Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) serves
Nunavut through a radio and
television production centre in Iqaluit, and a bureau in Rankin Inlet.
The territory is also served by two regional weekly newspapers
Nunatsiaq News published by Nortext and
Nunavut News/North, published
by Northern News Services, who also publish the regional Kivalliq
News. Broadband internet is provided by
Qiniq and Northwestel
The film production company
Isuma is based in Igloolik. Co-founded by
Zacharias Kunuk and Norman Cohn in 1990, the company produced the 1999
feature Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, winner of the
Caméra d'Or for
Best First Feature Film at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival. It was the
first feature film written, directed, and acted entirely in Inuktitut.
In November 2006, the National Film Board of
Canada (NFB) and the
Inuit Broadcasting Corporation announced the start of the Nunavut
Animation Lab, offering animation training to
Nunavut artists at
workshops in Iqaluit,
Cape Dorset and Pangnirtung. Films from the
Nunavut Animation Lab include Alethea Arnaquq-Baril's 2010 digital
animation short Lumaajuuq, winner of the Best Aboriginal Award at the
Golden Sheaf Awards and named Best Canadian Short Drama at the
imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival.
In November 2011, the government of
Nunavut and the NFB jointly
announced the launch of a DVD and online collection entitled
Unikkausivut (Inuktitut: Sharing Our Stories), which will make over
100 NFB films by and about
Inuit available in Inuktitut, Inuinnaqtun
Inuit languages, as well as English and French. The
Nunavut is distributing
Unikkausivut to every school in
Artcirq is a collective of
Inuit circus performers based in
Igloolik. The group has performed around the world, including at
2010 Olympic Winter Games
2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Nunavummiut (notable people)
Main article: List of people from Nunavut
Susan Aglukark is an
Inuit singer and songwriter. She has released six
albums and has won several Juno Awards. She blends the
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
Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq, entitled Nunavut, based on an
Inuit folk story. Tagaq is also known internationally for her
collaborations with Icelandic pop star Björk.
Jordin John Kudluk Tootoo (
Inuktitut syllabics: ᔪᐊᑕᓐ ᑐᑐ;
born February 2, 1983 in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada) is a
professional ice hockey player with the
Chicago Blackhawks of the
National Hockey League
National Hockey League (NHL). Although born in Manitoba, Tootoo grew
up in Rankin Inlet, where he was taught to skate and play hockey by
his father, Barney.
Due to prohibition laws influenced by local and traditional beliefs,
Nunavut has a highly regulated alcohol market. It is the last outpost
of prohibition in Canada, and it is often easier to obtain firearms
than alcohol. Every community in
Nunavut has slightly differing
regulations, but as a whole it is still very restrictive. Seven
communities have bans against alcohol and another 14 have orders being
restricted by local committees. Because of these laws, a lucrative
bootlegging market has appeared where people mark up the prices of
bottles by extraordinary amounts. The RCMP estimate Nunavut's
bootleg liquor market rakes in some $10 million a year.
Despite the restrictions, alcohol's availability leads to widespread
alcohol related crime. One lawyer estimated some 95% of police calls
are alcohol-related. Alcohol is also believed to be a contributing
factor to the territory's high rates of violence, suicide and
homicide. A special task force created in 2010 to study and address
the territory's increasing alcohol-related problems recommended the
government ease alcohol restrictions. With prohibition shown to be
highly ineffective historically, it is believed these laws contribute
to the territory's widespread social ills. However, many residents are
skeptical about the effectiveness of liquor sale liberalization and
want to ban it completely. In 2014, Nunavut's government decided to
move towards more legalization. A liquor store will be opened in
Iqaluit, the capital, for the first time in 38 years.
Nunavut has competed at the
Arctic Winter Games
Arctic Winter Games and co-hosted the 2002
Hockey Nunavut was founded in 1999 and competes in the Maritime-Hockey
North Junior C Championship.
Chemetco, U.S. company that produced air-borne dioxin inferred to be
the source of contamination in Nunavut
Archaeology in Nunavut
Scouting and Guiding in Nunavut
Symbols of Nunavut
Arctic policy of Canada
List of communities in Nunavut
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Alia, Valerie. (2007) Names and
Nunavut Culture and Identity in Arctic
Canada. New York: Berghahn Books. ISBN 1-84545-165-1
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Vancouver: University of
British Columbia Press.
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Cultural Politics in Denendeh and Nunavut. Winnipeg: University of
Manitoba Press. ISBN 0-88755-178-5
Sanna, Ellyn, and William Hunter. (2008) Canada's Modern-Day
Nunavut & Evolving Relationships. Markham, Ont:
Scholastic Canada. ISBN 978-0-7791-7322-8
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Nunavut.
Nunavut in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Nunavut Kavamat / Government of Nunavut: Official site
Nunavut at Curlie (based on DMOZ)
Map showing regions of Nunavut(from
Nunavut Government website)
Legislative Assembly of Nunavut
Nunavut Planning Commission
Nunavut Mining Symposium held in April each year
Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.:
Nunavut Land Claims website
Nunavut Act of 1993 at Canadian Legal Information Institute
Nunavut K-12 bilingual language instruction plan at the Wayback
Machine (archived September 26, 2006): Martin, Ian. Aajiiqatigiingniq
Language of Instruction Research Paper. Nunavut: Dept. of Education,
Explore Nunavut: Travel information and community guides
CBC North Radio: hear
Inuktitut and English radio from Nunavut
Territorial newspaper reporting in
Inuktitut and English, Nunatsiaq
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Coordinates: 73°N 091°W / 73°N 91°W / 73; -91