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Nunavut

Inuktitut syllabics ᓄᓇᕗᑦ
Flag of Nunavut
Flag
Coat of arms of Nunavut
Coat of arms
Motto(s): 
ᓄᓇᕗᑦ ᓴᙱᓂᕗᑦ (Nunavut Sannginivut)
"Our land, our strength"
"Notre terre, notre force"
"ᓄᓇᕗᑦ, ᓴᙱᓂᕆᔭᕗᑦ
NU
Canadian Provinces and Territories
Country Canada
Confederation April 1, 1999 (13th)
Capital Iqaluit
Largest city Iqaluit
Area
 • Total 2,038,722 km2 (787,155 sq mi)
 • Land 1,877,787 km2 (725,018 sq mi)
 • Water 160,935 km2 (62,137 sq mi)  7.9%
Area rank Ranked 1st
  20.4% of Canada
Population
 (2021)
 • Total 36,858
 • Estimate 
(Q1 2022)
39,710
 • Rank Ranked 13th
 • Density 0.02/km2 (0.05/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Nunavummiut
Nunavummiuq (sing.)
Official languages Inuktut
(Inuit languages: Inuinnaqtun, Inuktitut)
English, French
GDP
 • Rank 12th
 • Total (2017) C$2.846 billion
 • Per capita C$58,452 (6th)
HDI
 • HDI (2018) 0.908 — Very high (5th)
Time zones UTC-07:00 (Mountain Time)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-06:00
UTC-06:00 (Central Time)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-05:00
Southampton Island (Coral Harbour) UTC-05:00 (Eastern Time)
UTC-05:00 (Eastern Time)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-04:00
Postal abbr.
NU
Postal code prefix
X0A, X0B, X0C
ISO 3166 code CA-NU
Flower Purple Saxifrage
Tree n/a
Bird Rock Ptarmigan
Rankings include all provinces and territories

Nunavut (Inuktitut: ᓄᓇᕗᑦ) is the 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, which provided this territory to the Inuit for independent government. The boundaries had been drawn in 1993. The creation of Nunavut resulted in the first major change to Canada's political map in half a century since the province of Newfoundland was admitted 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 a capital plebiscite in 1995. Other major communities include the regional centres of Rankin Inlet and Cambridge Bay.

Nunavut also includes Ellesmere Island to the far north, as well as the eastern and southern portions of Victoria Island in the west, and all islands in Hudson, James and Ungava bays, including Akimiski Island 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 least populous of Canada's provinces and territories. One of the world's most remote, sparsely settled regions, Nunavut has a population of 39,589 (2021 figure, up from 35,944 in 2016), consisting mostly of Inuit people. These people occupy a land area of just over 1,877,787 km2 (725,018 sq mi), or slightly smaller than Mexico (excluding water surface area). Nunavut is also home to the world's northernmost permanently inhabited place, Alert. Eureka, a weather station on Ellesmere Island, has the lowest average annual temperature of any Canadian weather station.

Etymology

Nunavut means "our land" in Inuktitut.

Geography

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 mainland, Saskatchewan to the southwest (at a single four-corner point), and a small land border with 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 comparison, Greenland has approximately the same area and nearly twice the population.

Climate

Nunavut koppen
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 in Nunavut
City July (°C) July (°F) January (°C) January (°F)
Alert 6/1 43/33 −29/−36 −20/−33
Baker Lake 17/6 63/43 −28/−35 −18/−31
Cambridge Bay 13/5 55/41 −29/−35 −19/−32
Eureka 9/3 49/37 −33/−40 −27/−40
Iqaluit 12/4 54/39 −23/−31 −9/−24
Kugluktuk 16/6 60/43 −23/−31 −10/−25
Rankin Inlet 15/6 59/43 −27/−34 −17/−30

History

Eskimo Women at Ashe Inlet
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 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.

Archaeological findings

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."

Igloos
Inuit village near Frobisher Bay, 1865

First written historical accounts

The written historical accounts of Nunavut begin in 1576, with an account by an English explorer 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 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.

Cold War

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 Arctic.

The Inuit call it Beautiful Rock
Glacially polished banded coloured marble on Baffin Island.

Recent history

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 parties discussed division of the 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 later.

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, 1993, the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act and the Nunavut Act 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.

Demography



Circle frame-1.svg

Visible minority and indigenous identity (2016):      Inuit (84.7%)     European Canadian (11.6%)     Visible minority (2.5%)     First Nations (0.5%)     Métis (0.5%)     Other Indigenous responses (0.2%)

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 as Inuit (83.6% of the total population), 100 as First Nations (0.3%), 130 as Métis (0.4%) and 4,410 as non-aboriginal (15.0%).

Ten largest communities
Municipality 2016 2011 2006 Growth 2011–16
Iqaluit 7,082 6,699 6,184 10.3%
Rankin Inlet 2,441 1,905 1,528 28.1%
Arviat 2,318 2,060 12.5%
Baker Lake 1,872 1,728 8.3%
Cambridge Bay 1,619 1,452 1,377 11.5%
Pond Inlet 1,549 1,315 17.8%
Igloolik 1,454 1,538 −5.5%
Kugluktuk 1,450 1,302 11.4%
Pangnirtung 1,425 1,325 7.5%
Kinngait 1,441 1,363 1,236 5.7%

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%.

Nunavut has the highest smoking rate in all of Canada, with more than half of its adult population smoking cigarettes. Both men and women smoke regularly. Some 90% of pregnant women are smokers, although studies have shown it has detrimental effects.

Language

Igloolik Airport Sign
Entrance sign to Igloolik Airport, with text in English, French, and Inuktitut

Official languages are Inuit (Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun) sometimes called Inuktut, English and French.

In his 2000 commissioned report (Aajiiqatigiingniq Language of Instruction Research Paper) to the Nunavut Department of Education, Ian Martin of York University said that 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 threat" if 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 provided different models, including:

  • "Qulliq Model", for most Nunavut communities, with Inuktitut to be 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), where the population is 40% Qallunaat, or non-Inuit, and may have different requirements.

Of the 34,960 responses to the census question concerning "mother tongue" in the 2016 census, the most commonly reported languages in Nunavut were:

Mother tongue
Rank Language Number of respondents Percentage
1 Inuktitut 22,070 63.1%
2 English 11,020 31.5%
3 French 595 1.7%
4 Inuinnaqtun 495 1.4%

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 2016 census it was reported that 2,045 people (5.8%) living in Nunavut had no knowledge of either official language of Canada (English or French). The 2016 census also reported that of the 30,135 Inuit people in Nunavut, 90.7% could speak either Inuktitut or Inuinnaqtun.

Religion

In 2011 census, Christianity constitutes 86% of Nunavut's population. About 13% of the population is non-religious, and 0.44% follows Aboriginal spirituality. There are small minorities of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and Jews.

Culture

Music

Drumdance
Inuit drum dancing, Gjoa Haven, Nunavut

The indigenous music of Nunavut includes Inuit throat singing and drum-led dancing, along with country music, bluegrass, square dancing, the button accordion and the fiddle, an infusion of European influence.

Media

The 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 through Netkaster.

Film

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 and other Inuit languages, as well as English and French. The Government of Nunavut is distributing Unikkausivut to every school in the territory.

Performing arts

Artcirq is a collective of Inuit circus performers based in Igloolik. The group has performed around the world, including at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Nunavummiut (notable people)

Susan Aglukark is an Inuit singer and songwriter. 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, 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 New Jersey Devils of the 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.

Sport

Nunavut has competed at the Arctic Winter Games and co-hosted the 2002 edition.

Hockey Nunavut was founded in 1999 and competes in the Maritime-Hockey North Junior C Championship.

Economy

CHARS construction 2016 03
CHARS is one of several Arctic research stations in Nunavut.

The economy of Nunavut is driven by the Inuit and Territorial Government, mining, oil, gas, and mineral exploration, arts, crafts, hunting, fishing, whaling, tourism, transportation, housing development, military, research, and education. Presently, one college operates in Nunavut, the Nunavut Arctic College, as well as several Arctic research stations located within the territory. The new Canadian High Arctic Research Station CHARS is planning for Cambridge Bay and high north Alert Bay Station.

Iqaluit hosts the annual Nunavut Mining Symposium every April, a tradeshow that showcases the many economic activities ongoing in Nunavut.

Mining

There are currently three major mines in operation in Nunavut. Agnico-Eagle Mines Ltd – Meadowbank Division. Meadowbank Gold Mine 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 close to Pond Inlet on North Baffin Island. They produce a high grade direct ship iron ore.

Hope Bay Gold Mine 04
The Hope Bay gold mine is one of three major mines in the territory.

The most recent mine to open is Doris North or the Hope Bay Mine operated near Hope Bay Aerodrome 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.

Mining projects

Name Company In the region of Material
Amaruq and Meliadine Gold Projects Agnico-Eagle Rankin Inlet Gold
Back River Project Sabina Gold & Silver Corp. Bathurst Inlet Gold
Izok Corridor Project MMG Resources Inc. Kugluktuk Gold, Copper, Silver, Zinc
Hackett River Glencore Kugluktuk Copper, Lead, Silver, Zinc
Chidliak Peregrine Diamonds Ltd. Iqaluit / Pangnirtung Diamonds
Committee Bay, Three Bluffs Gold Project Auryn Resources Inc Naujaat Gold
Kiggavik Areva Resources Baker Lake Uranium
Roche Bay Advanced Exploration Hall Beach Iron Ore
Ulu and Lupin Elgin Mining Ltd. Contwoyto Lake - connected to Yellowknife with an ice road Gold
Storm Copper Property Aston Bay Holdings Taloyoak Copper

Historic mines

Jericho Diamond Mine pit Nunavut Canada
The Jericho Diamond Mine is a dormant mine in Nunavut, that operated from 2006 to 2008.
  • Lupin Mine 1982–2005, gold, current owner Elgin Mining Ltd located near the 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 metals
  • Jericho Diamond Mine 2006–2008, diamond (located 400 km, 250 mi, northeast of Yellowknife) 2012 produced diamonds from existing stockpile. No new mining; closed.
  • Doris North Gold Mine 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.

Energy

Rankin Inlet Diesel Power Station
A power station powered by diesel fuel in Rankin Inlet

Nunavut's people rely primarily on diesel fuel to run generators and heat homes, with fossil fuel shipments from southern Canada by 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 warming. Former Nunavut Premier 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.

Transportation

  • Northern Transportation Company Limited, owned by Norterra, a holding company that was, until April 1, 2014, jointly owned by the Inuvialuit of the Northwest Territories and the Inuit of Nunavut.
  • There are no sidewalks in Nunavut.

Tourism

In the second half of 2018 travellers visited Nunavut 134,000 times and spent $436 million. Two-thirds of those visits were by Nunavummiut (residents of Nunavut) travelling within the territory. The remaining came from outside other provinces or territories in Canada, or from abroad and spent $219 million. Travellers from Ontario make up the largest portion of visitors from outside the territory. The majority of visitors from outside of Nunavut are business travellers; in the second half of 2018 only 14% of visitors were in the territory for leisure. Tourism recreation in Nunavut include activities like dog sledding, snowmobiling, cultural festivals, hiking, arctic wildlife safaris and sea kayaking.

Notable people

Susan Aglukark is an Inuk singer and songwriter. 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 the Arctic.

On May 3, 2008, the Kronos Quartet premiered a collaborative piece with 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, and her 2018 novel Split Tooth which was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Jordin John Kudluk Tootoo (Inuktitut syllabics: ᔪᐊᑕᓐ ᑐᑐ; born February 2, 1983, in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada) was a professional ice hockey player with the Chicago Blackhawks of the 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.

Hunter Tootoo, Member of Parliament for the Territory of Nunavut, was elected to the Liberal government in 2015. He served as the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard until his resignation from the post on May 31, 2016.

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