|Nunavut at a Glance||The People||The Language||Abrupt Changes||Tasks for Students|
Nunavut at a Glance
Located at the northernmost point of Canada, Nunavut
is the newest territory in the nation.
On April 1, 1999, the territory of Nunavut was created from a portion of the Northwest Territories.
The new territory consists of 769,887 square miles(1,994,000sq
km), an area more than four times
the size of the state of Texas in the United States with a population of 27,500 (85 percent Inuit).
The capital is Iqualuit (population 4,500).There are 28 communities of which Iqualuit is the largest.
Nunavut, which means “the people’s land” in the
Inuit Language, Inuktitut, is made up of two regions,
the eastern Arctic Mainland and the Artic Archipelago.
Its major economic activities are mining,
tourism, shrimp and scallop fishing, hunting, arts and craft
Its government is a Legislative Assembly
of 19 elected members, who choose a government leader and
ministers by consensus, highly decentralized government structure, with 10 departments in 11 different
The idea of dividing the Northwest Territories (NWT)
has been a matter of discussion for many years.
The Inuit Tairisat of Canada(ITC) is an organisation that represents the Inuit across Canada.
As early as 1976, the ICT requested that the federal government map out a boundary between
the eastern and western sections of NWT, allowing the Inuit clear claim to the eastern region.
An election held in the NWT in 1982 gave residents the opportunity to decide for themselves.
The majority voted in favour of the division. The new territory would be called Nunavut; the remaining
land would still be called Northwest Territory. Another vote in 1992 determined the new boundaries.
The Nunavut Land Claims Agreement was settled in 1992, the largest land claim ever settled in Canadian
history and the most comprehensive settlement ever reached between a state and an aboriginal group
anywhere in the world.
While the history of the North Arctic lands is ancient, the history of the new territory of Nunavut is
Its creation has revived interest in the far north, one of the world’s last unspoiled wilderness areas.
The tourism industry is expected to grow as pleasure and business travellers from around the world
plan trips to the eastern arctic.. Three national parks will be created under the terms of the
Nunavut Land Claim Agreement.
The Inuit are often referred to as Eskimos. “Eskimo”
is a Cree word meaning “eaters of raw meat.”
While the Inuit have eaten raw meat for centuries, they much prefer to be called Inuit, which means
“ the people,” or “ the people who are alive at this time.”
Following the Seasons
The nomadic Inuit based their entire lives on the
migration of animals and the changing of seasons.
In the summer and fall they moved inland to hunt the large caribou herds. They caught fish through
ice holes in fresh-water lakes in spring and early summer. During the winter the Inuit moved to the
seacoast to hunt seal through breathing holes in the ice. All members of the Inuit family worked to
ensure the family’s survival.
Because the Inuit were few in a number, their society
was not highly organized. They lived in small
bands of five to ten families. Sharing the workload and cooperating during a hunt guaranteed that
all would survive the harsh elements. Families cared for another
The Inuit are known as a friendly, happy, patient,
and independent people. They tend to accept what
life brings them and improvise whenever necessary. The Inuit held a high respect for their fellow man,
for their environment, and for all living creatures.
The Inuit language has no word for “war”. Even during long winter months when they spent much
time inside close quarters, times were peaceful. The long hours were spent playing games and telling
stories which passed the history of their people from one generation to the next.
The Inuit’s spoken language is called Inuktitut.
Until missionaries lived among them during the
nineteenth century, the language had never been written. In their language, words and word roots
form complete thoughts with ideas linked together.
The word igdlo, for instance means a house.
The word igdlorssuaq, means a large house.
Listen to some spoken Inuktitut,
The Arctic Inuit created simple utensils for eating
and tools for sewing and hunting. A heating
lamp was merely a hollowed out peace of soapstone filled with oil
Each Inuit woman learned to sew as a young child. Their sewing kits became their most prized
Their homes in winter were well-constructed dome-shaped ice houses commonly referred to as
igloos. In summer they lived in tents of skins. Both types of dwellings were perfectly suited to
this nomadic life.
This peaceful existence lasted until the arrival
of Europeans. Within a span of about forty to fifty
years , the Inuit were moved from their nomadic way of life into more permanent settings. With the
European came diseases for which the Inuit had no immunity. One study in the 19209s showed that
30 percent of the Inuit population died from influenca over a 14-year period.
The Inuit were eventually brought into government housing and given government assistance, with
schools and hospitals available.
As long as the Inuit were nomadic, their hunting, trapping, and fishing followed seasonal patterns.
However, when they settled into communities, they could not longer hunt as they had before.
In a span of a few decades, the Inuits found themselves thrust into a wage-earning, money-driven
economic system totally foreign to them.
Self-respect as it related to their traditional way of life drained away, and in its place came a rash
of social problems such as depression, suicide, domestic violence, and substance abuse.
Politically and economically, the Inuit were, for
the most part, overlooked and forgotten by the
Canadian government for many years.
The new Nunavut government plans to support the traditional Inuit lifestyle through job sharing
and flexible work hours to accommodate subsistence hunting and fishing in season.
http://atlas.gc.ca/site/english/index.html facts about Canada
The Atlas of Canada - home
links to maps environment, people and society, historical….
facts about Canada, quizzes, learning resources.
Tasks for students:
Nunavut and its People