Nunavut Territory Official
by Iram Khan
n 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.
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.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?
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.
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
2Nunatsiaq News: February 26, 1999
3Nunatsiaq News: April 23, 1998
map of Nunavut liberated from the CBC Newsworld site.
The North Divides
Iram Khan is a B.C. elementary school teacher currently "job-challenged" due to the sorry state of education funding in this country