What is Nunavut?
Nunavut means "our
land" in Inuktitut, the native language of the Inuit (once known
as Eskimos). The Nunavut Territory was created in 1999 to recognize the
traditional homeland of the Inuit who have lived here for millennia. The
Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, which created the territory, was the result
of decades of negotiations between Canadian Inuit and the Government of
Formerly part of the
Northwest Territories, the expanse of Nunavut stretches across Canada's
eastern and central Arctic, nearly two million square kilometres of land
and water comprising about one-fifth of the area of Canada. The territory's
size, slightly larger than Mexico, and characteristics make it an incredibly
unique cultural and environmental region
30,000 residents (about 85 per cent Inuit) live in 27 remote communities
separated by some of the last untouched wilderness areas on the planet.
Nunavut's capital and its largest community, Iqaluit, has a population
of about 6,000.
Much of Nunavut's
economy is still based on the harvesting traditions of Inuit. Improved
air travel options, though, have allowed the territory to become an increasingly
popular destination for tourists. Searching for a slice of what was previously
accessible only to explorers and adventurers, about 18,000 people visit
the territory each year to engage in eco-tourism activities, sport hunts
and cultural tours.
Steps that led to
Nunavut territorial status:
- 1960s - Intense
oil and gas exploration in Canada's arctic illustrate to Inuit how little
control they have over their traditional homeland.
- 1971 - Founding
of Inuit Tapirisat of Canada (now Inuit Tapirisat Kanatami, or ITK)
to represent the interests of Inuit at the national level.
- 1982 - Tunngavik
Federation of Nunavut (now Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.) is incorporated to
pursue land claims negotiations on behalf of the Inuit of Nunavut.
- 1984 - under pressure
from oil exploration in the Beaufort Sea and an expected oil pipeline
down the Mackenzie Valley, Inuvialuit (Inuit) of the western Arctic
break away from Nunavut negotiations to sign the Inuvialuit Land Claim
- 1990 - after years
of intense and detailed negotiations, an agreement-in-principle for
Nunavut is reached.
- 1992 - final agreement
is signed then ratified, by 84.7 per cent of Inuit beneficiaries, in
- 1993 - $1.1 billion
Nunavut Land Claims Settlement proclaimed at a special ceremony in Kugluktuk,
on July 9.
- April 1, 1999
- Nunavut Territory is established.
For more information
about Nunavut, visit these links: