Contact info

What is Nunavut?
What is Ayaya?
Downloadable Cover shots
Praise for Previous Editions
List of Contributors

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 Canada.

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

Nunavut's approximately 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 Agreement.
  • 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 a plebiscite
  • 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: