Northwest Territories facts for kids

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Northwest Territories
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: (No official motto)
NT
Canadian Provinces and Territories
Capital Yellowknife
Largest city Yellowknife
Largest metro Yellowknife
Official languages
Demonym Northwest Territorian
Government
Type
Commissioner George Tuccaro
Premier Bob McLeod (consensus government)
Legislature Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories
Federal representation (in Canadian Parliament)
House seats 1 of 308 (0.3%)
Senate seats 1 of 105 (1%)
Confederation July 15, 1870 (Hudson's Bay Company cedes territory to Canada) (6th)
Area  Ranked 3rd
Total 1,346,106 km2 (519,734 sq mi)
Land 1,183,085 km2 (456,792 sq mi)
Water (%) 163,021 km2 (62,943 sq mi) (12.1%)
Proportion of Canada 13.5% of 9,984,670 km2
Population  Ranked 11th
Total (2016) 41,786
Density (2016) 0.04/km2 (0.10/sq mi)
GDP  Ranked 11th
Total (2011) C$4.791 billion
Per capita C$108,394 (1st)
Abbreviations
Postal NT
ISO 3166-2 CA-NT
Time zone UTC-7
Postal code prefix X0, X1 (Yellowknife)
Flower Mountain avens
Tree Tamarack Larch
Bird Gyrfalcon
Website www.gov.nt.ca
Rankings include all provinces and territories

The Northwest Territories (also known as NWT; French: les Territoires du Nord-Ouest, TNO; Athabaskan languages: Denendeh; Inuinnaqtun: Nunatsiaq; Inuktitut: ᓄᓇᑦᓯᐊᖅ) is a territory of Canada. At a land area of approximately 1,144,000 km2 (442,000 sq mi) and a 2011 population of 41,462, it is the second largest and most populous of the three territories in Northern Canada. Its estimated population as of 2016 is 44,291. Yellowknife became the territorial capital in 1967, following recommendations by the Carrothers Commission.

The Northwest Territories, a portion of the old North-West Territory, entered the Canadian Confederation on July 15, 1870, but the current borders were formed on April 1, 1999, when the territory was subdivided to create Nunavut to the east, via the Nunavut Act and the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act. While Nunavut is mostly Arctic tundra, the Northwest Territories has a slightly warmer climate and is both boreal forest (taiga), and tundra, and its most northern regions form part of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.

The Northwest Territories are bordered by Canada's two other territories, Nunavut to the east and Yukon to the west, and by the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan to the south.

Etymology

The name is descriptive, adopted by the British government during the colonial era to indicate where it lay in relation to Rupert's Land. It is shortened from North-Western Territory (see History). In Inuktitut, the Northwest Territories are referred to as ᓄᓇᑦᓯᐊᖅ (Nunatsiaq), "beautiful land."

There was some discussion of changing the name of the Northwest Territories after the splitting off of Nunavut, possibly to a term from an Aboriginal language. One proposal was "Denendeh" (an Athabaskan language word meaning "our land"), as advocated by the former premier Stephen Kakfwi, among others. One of the most popular proposals for a new name – one to name the territory "Bob" – began as a prank, but for a while it was at or near the top in the public-opinion polls.

In the end a poll conducted prior to division showed that strong support remained to keep the name "Northwest Territories". This name arguably became more appropriate following division than it had been when the territories extended far into Canada's north-central and northeastern areas.

Geography

Located in northern Canada, the territory borders Canada's two other territories, Yukon to the west and Nunavut to the east, and three provinces: British Columbia to the southwest, and Alberta and Saskatchewan to the south. It possibly meets Manitoba at a quadripoint to the extreme southeast, though surveys have not been completed. It has a land area of 1,183,085 km2 (456,792 sq mi).

Geographical features include Great Bear Lake, the largest lake entirely within Canada, and Great Slave Lake, the deepest body of water in North America at 614 m (2,014 ft), as well as the Mackenzie River and the canyons of the Nahanni National Park Reserve, a national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Territorial islands in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago include Banks Island, Borden Island, Prince Patrick Island, and parts of Victoria Island and Melville Island. Its highest point is Mount Nirvana near the border with Yukon at an elevation of 2,773 m (9,098 ft).

Climate

See also: Climate change in the Arctic
NWT koppen
Köppen climate types in the Northwest Territories
Ice Road on Great Slave Lake 2
Ice road on Great Slave Lake, Northwest Territories, 2009

The Northwest Territories extends for more than 1,300,000 km2 (500,000 sq mi) and has a large climate variant from south to north. The southern part of the territory (most of the mainland portion) has a subarctic climate, while the islands and northern coast have a polar climate.

Summers in the north are short and cool, with daytime highs in the mid teens Celsius (60° to 70 °F), and lows in the single degrees Celsius (45° to 55 °F). Winters are long and harsh, daytime highs in the mid −20 °C (−4 °F) and lows around −40 °C (−40 °F). Extremes are common with summer highs in the south reaching 36 °C (97 °F) and lows reaching into the negatives. In winter in the south, it is not uncommon for the temperatures to reach −40 °C (−40 °F), but they can also reach the low teens during the day. In the north, temperatures can reach highs of 30 °C (86 °F), and lows can reach into the low negatives. In winter in the north it is not uncommon for the temperatures to reach −50 °C (−58 °F) but they can also reach the single digits during the day. Thunderstorms are not rare in the south. In the north they are very rare, but do occur. Tornadoes are extremely rare but have happened with the most notable one happening just outside Yellowknife that destroyed a communications tower. The Territory has a fairly dry climate due to the mountains in the west.

About half of the territory is above the tree line. There are not many trees in most of the eastern areas of the territory, or in the north islands.

Average daily maximum and minimum temperatures for selected cities in Northwest Territories
City July (°C) July (°F) January (°C) January (°F)
Fort Simpson 24/11 75/52 −20/−29 −4/-19
Yellowknife 21/13 70/55 −22/−30 −7/−21
Inuvik 20/9 67/48 −23/−31 −9/−24
Sachs Harbour 10/3 50/38 −24/−32 −12/−25

History

North-western-territory
North-Western Territory in 1859
Northwest Territories Proclamation
Proclamation concerning the admission of Rupert's Land and the North-West Territories to Canada

The present-day territory came under government authority in July 1870, after the Hudson's Bay Company transferred Rupert's Land and North-Western Territory to the British Crown, which subsequently transferred them to the government of Canada, giving it the name the North-West Territories. This immense region comprised all of today's Canada except that which was encompassed within the early signors of Canadian Confederation, that is, British Columbia, early forms of present-day Ontario and Quebec (which encompassed the coast of the Great Lakes, the Saint Lawrence River valley and the southern third of Quebec), the Maritimes (NS, PEI and NB), Newfoundland, the Labrador coast, and the Arctic Islands, except the southern half of Baffin Island (the Arctic Islands remained under direct British claim until 1880).

After the 1870 transfer, some of the North-West Territories was whittled away. The province of Manitoba was created on July 15, 1870, at first a small square area around Winnipeg, and then enlarged in 1881 to a rectangular region composing the modern province's south. By the time British Columbia joined Confederation on July 20, 1871, it had already (1866) been granted the portion of North-Western Territory south of 60 degrees north and west of 120 degrees west, an area that comprised most of the Stickeen Territories.

Kane The Surveyor
Captain John Henry Lefroy winter 1843/44

In the meantime, the Province of Ontario was enlarged northwestward in 1882. Quebec was also extended northwards in 1898. Yukon was made a separate territory that year, due to the Klondike Gold Rush, to free the NWT government in Regina from the burden of addressing the problems caused by the sudden boom of population and economic activity, and the influx of non-Canadians.

The provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan were created in 1905, and Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec acquired the last addition to their modern landmass from the NWT in 1912. This left only the districts of Mackenzie, Franklin (which absorbed the remnants of Ungava in 1920), and Keewatin within what was then given the name Northwest Territories. In 1925, the boundaries of the NWT were extended all the way to the North Pole on the sector principle, vastly expanding its territory onto the northern ice cap.

In 1912, the Parliament of Canada made the official name of these territories the Northwest Territories, dropping all hyphenated forms of it. Between 1925 and 1999, the Northwest Territories covered a land area of 3,439,296 km2 (1,327,920 sq mi) – larger than that of India.

On April 1, 1999, the existing Northwest Territories was split into two parts, with a separate Nunavut territory being formed to represent the Inuit people.

Demography

The NWT is one of two jurisdictions in Canada – Nunavut being the other – where Aboriginal peoples are in the majority, constituting 50.3% of the population.

Slavey girls Mackenzie River Northwest Territories - NA-1463-23
Slavey girls, Mackenzie River, Northwest Territories, 1899

According to the 2006 Canadian census, the 10 major ethnic groups were:

  • First Nations – 36.5%
  • English – 17.2%
  • Canadian – 14.7%
  • Scottish – 14.3%
  • Irish – 11.8%
  • Inuit (Inuvialuit) – 11.1%
  • French – 10.5%
  • German – 8.5%
  • Métis – 6.9%
  • Ukrainian – 3.5%

Population of the Northwest Territories since 1871

Year Population five-year
% change
ten-year
% change
Rank among provinces
and territories
1871 48,000 n/a n/a 6
1881 56,446 n/a 17.6 7
1891 98,967 n/a 75.3 7
1901 20,129 n/a −79.7 11
1911 6,507 n/a −67.7 11
1921 8,143 n/a 25.1 10
1931 9,316 n/a 14.4 10
1941 12,028 n/a 29.1 10
1951 16,004 n/a 33.1 11
1956 19,313 20.7 n/a 11
1961 22,998 19.1 43.7 11
1966 28,738 25.0 48.8 11
1971 34,805 21.1 51.3 11
1976 42,610 22.4 48.3 11
1981 45,740 7.3 31.4 11
1986 52,235 14.2 22.6 11
1991 57,649 10.3 26.0 11
1996 64,402 11.7 23.2 11
2001 37,360 −42.0 −35.2 11
2006 41,464 12.0 −35.0 11
2011 41,462 0.0 11.0 11
1.Yukon was ceded from the Northwest Territories in 1898.
2.Alberta and Saskatchewan were created from parts of the Northwest Territories in 1905.
3.Nunavut was separated from the Northwest Territories in 1999.

Religion

The largest denominations by number of adherents according to the 2001 census were Roman Catholic with 16,940 (46.7%); the Anglican Church of Canada with 5,510 (14.9%); and the United Church of Canada with 2,230 (6.0%), while a total of 6,465 (17.4%) people stated no religion.

Language

Multilingual sign for eye clinic in Yellowknife, NT
Sign for eye clinic in Yellowknife with all 11 official territorial languages

French was made an official language in 1877 by the territorial government. After a lengthy and bitter debate resulting from a speech from the throne in 1888 by Lieutenant Governor Joseph Royal the members of the day voted on more than one occasion to nullify and make English the only language used in the assembly. After some conflict with Ottawa and a decisive vote on January 19, 1892, the assembly members voted for an English-only territory.

The Northwest Territories' Official Languages Act recognizes the following eleven official languages, which are more than in any other political division in the Americas:

NWT residents have a right to use any of the above languages in a territorial court and in debates and proceedings of the legislature. However, laws are legally binding only in their French and English versions, and the NWT government only publishes laws and other documents in the territory's other official languages when the legislature asks it to. Furthermore, access to services in any language is limited to institutions and circumstances where there is significant demand for that language or where it is reasonable to expect it given the nature of the services requested. In practical terms, English language services are universally available, and there is no guarantee that other languages, including French, will be used by any particular government service except for the courts.

The 2006 census returns showed a population of 41,464. Of the 40,680 singular responses to the census question regarding each inhabitant's "mother tongue", the most reported languages were the following:

1 English 31,545 77.5%
2 Dogrib (Tłı̨chǫ) 1,950 4.8%
3 South Slavey 1,285 3.2%
4 French 975 2.4%
5 North Slavey 835 2.1%
6 Inuktitut 695 1.7%
7 Tagalog 505 1.2%
8 Chipewyan 390 1.0%
9 Vietnamese 305 0.8%
10 Chinese 260 0.6%
11 Cree 190 0.5%
11 Gwich'in 190 0.5%
13 Inuinnaqtun 55 0.1%

There were also 320 responses of both English and a "non-official language"; 15 of both French and a "non-official language"; 45 of both English and French, and about 400 people who either did not respond to the question, or reported multiple non-official languages, or else gave some other un-enumeratable response. The Northwest Territories' official languages are shown in bold.

(Figures shown are for the number of single language responses and the percentage of total single-language responses)

Communities

Downtown Yellowknife 2
Looking towards downtown Yellowknife from Old Town

As of 2014 there are 33 official communities in the NWT. These range in size from Yellowknife with a population of 19,234 to Kakisa with 45 people. Governance of each community differs, some are run under various types of First Nations control, while others are designated as a city, town, village or hamlet, but most communities are municipal corporations. Yellowknife is the largest community and has the largest number of Aboriginal peoples, 4,105 (22.2%) people. However, Behchoko, with a population of 1,926, is the largest First Nations community, 1,730 (91.5%), and Inuvik with 3,463 people is the largest Inuvialuit community, 1,335 (38.9%). There is one Indian reserve in the NWT, Hay River Reserve, located on the south shore of the Hay River.

Five largest municipalities by population
Municipality 2006
Yellowknife 19,234
Hay River 3,606
Inuvik 3,463
Fort Smith 2,093
Behchoko 1,926

Culture

Aboriginal issues in the Northwest Territories include the fate of the Dene who, in the 1940s, were employed to carry radioactive uranium ore from the mines on Great Bear Lake. Of the thirty plus miners who worked at the Port Radium site, at least fourteen have died due to various forms of cancer. A study was done in the community of Deline, called A Village of Widows by Cindy Kenny-Gilday, which indicated that the number of people involved were too small to be able to confirm or deny a link.

There has been racial tension based on a history of violent conflict between the Dene and the Inuit, who have now taken recent steps towards reconciliation.

Land claims in the NWT began with the Inuvialuit Final Agreement, signed on June 5, 1984. It was the first Land Claim signed in the Territory, and the second in Canada. It culminated with the creation of the Inuit homeland of Nunavut, the result of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, the largest land claim in Canadian history.

Another land claims agreement with the Tłı̨chǫ people created a region within the NWT called Tli Cho, between Great Bear and Great Slave Lakes, which gives the Tłı̨chǫ their own legislative bodies, taxes, resource royalties, and other affairs, though the NWT still maintains control over such areas as health and education. This area includes two of Canada's three diamond mines at Ekati and Diavik.

Festivals

See also: Category:Festivals in the Northwest Territories

Among the festivals in the region are the Great Northern Arts Festival, the Snowking Winter Festival, Folk on the Rocks music festival in Yellowknife, and Rockin the Rocks.

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