submission info
Nunavut Territory Official

by Iram Khan

on April 1 1999, the Northwest Territories will officially be broken up into two parts; the eastern part will be called Nunavut, and the western part hasn't yet decided on a name. Regardless, this is the first time a change has been made to the map of Canada since 1949, with Newfoundland joining Confederation.

map of Nunavut
Nunavut means "our land" in Inuktitut, the language of the Inuit. It covers 1,900,000 square kilometers of our country (20% of Canada, five times the size of Alberta), with a population of about 25,000 people. As well, it spans three different time zones. The capital of Nunavut will be Iqaluit (which won over Rankin Inlet and Cambridge Bay).

Comments by Nancy Karetak-Lindell, a Nunavut MP, specifically on the way of life in Canada's north, reveal how most Canadian's can hardly appreciate the way of life in Nunavut:

27 out of 28 Nunavut communities are coastal communities, but all are serviced only by air. There are no roads. Air freight is the only reliable way to ship goods and perishable food. Communities receive non-perishables, like fuel and construction materials, by sealift, many of them, only once a year.

Freight is the primary reason for the high cost of living in Nunavut. In many communities, a four-litre jug of milk costs 10 dollars, a loaf of white bread $2.69, a five-pound bag of potatoes $6.95, and a case of Coca-Cola will cost $41. With gas costing 71 cents a litre, it is very expensive for northern residents to buy gas so that they may go hunting for country food, which is still very much the main diet...

During my parents time, Inuit used fox tags and wooden sticks to trade for supplies. Today, my father has a VISA card and my mother can do banking with her Interac card, even though they do not speak English. The Inuit are very adaptable people, and I am proud of the progress we have made in such a short time...1

Eighty-eight per cent of eligible voters visited the polls in Nunavut on February 15, 1999 to elect 18 men and one woman to sit in Nunavut's first legislative assembly. Hopefully these 19 individuals can stand and speak up for people of the north, whose lifestyle is obviously quite difficult, and help to preserve their cultural distinctiveness.

Unfortunately, political problems are already tainting Nunavut's celebrations. Nunatsiaq News reported on Feb. 26 that the federal government, through the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (DIAND), is paying the CBC at least one million dollars to produce an hour and a half special of the ceremonies to be aired as part of a live CBC Newsworld broadcast. Now, when the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) tried to get a bit of that money to do a live Inuktitut-language broadcast and another $225,000 to provide eight hours of live broadcasting on April 1, including Inuktitut coverage of the CBC-produced protocol show, their request was declined.2 (What's going to happen if the CBC technicians are still on strike?)


How did all of this come about in the first place though?

Bill C-39.

This bill contains a list of amendments to the Nunavut Act and other laws to ensure that on April 1, 1999 Nunavut has a functioning court system, a set of duplicate laws inherited from the Northwest Territories, and a seat in the Senate.

  • Bill C-39 would change the Constitution Act, 1867 to create one more seat in Canada's Senate increasing the size of the Senate to 105 from 104 members. The maximum number of Senate seats would be increased from 112 to 113.
  • The Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut would each be entitled to one Senate seat each.
  • Bill C-39 says that if the member of the Senate who represents the Northwest Territories on April 1, 1999 resides in Nunavut, he will continue to represent Nunavut in the Senate. 3

As for funding on everything, Ottawa has agreed to pay Nunavut $1.2 billion over 14 years, ending in 2007. Now, before people get all worked up over this, it must be said that this isn't realy all that much money, especially considering the long period of time it is being dispersed over.

All in all, residents of Nunavut will have something to celebrate on April 1. Hopefully this will result in representation, a voice in Canadian politics, as well as an awareness of the struggles of Canada's northern peoples.


  1Nunatsiaq News: October 3, 1997
"Nunavut's MP introduces herself in the Commons"

  2Nunatsiaq News: February 26, 1999
"DIAND will hire CBC to air Nunavut inauguration"

  3Nunatsiaq News: April 23, 1998
"Bill C-39: What's it all about?" see this article for a far more extensive look at Bill C-39.

map of Nunavut liberated from the CBC Newsworld site.


The North Divides
a CBC Newsworld special information site dealing with various aspects of Nunavut including the people, land, and issues.

Nunavut Celebrations
a very slick promo site for the creation of Nunavut. has interesting features such as a clickable map with the specific regions of Nunavut highlighted, and a timeline of events leading up to April 1.
"Information gateway to Nunavut"

Nunatsiaq News
a valuable northern news source

Iram Khan is a B.C. elementary school teacher currently "job-challenged" due to the sorry state of education funding in this country