LIVING IN CANADA : NORTHWEST TERRITORIES
The Northwest Territories is a territory of Canada. Located in northern Canada, it is east of Yukon, west and south of Nunavut (Canada's two other territories), and north of British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. It has an area of 1,140,835 square kilometres and a population of 41,464 as of the 2006 census, an increase of 11.0% from 2001. Its capital has been Yellowknife since 1967.
To new immigrants to Canada seeking adventure, there are large tracts of unpopulated land that include the vast Great Bear and Great Slave Lakes, as well as the immense Mackenzie River and the canyons of the Nahanni River, a national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Territorial islands in the Arctic Archipelago include Banks Island, Parry Peninsula, Prince Patrick Island, and parts of Victoria Island and Melville Island. The highest point is Mount Nirvana near the border with Yukon at elevation 2,773 m (9,098 ft).
The territories are home to approximately 6,300 Canadian immigrants, according to the Canada 2006 Census. Canadian immigrants in the territories represented only 0.1% of the total foreign-born population in the country and 6.2% of the population in the North.
The largest proportion of people that immigrate to Canada and settle in the territories came from the United Kingdom (15.7%), the United States of America (13.9%) and the Philippines (12.1%). 1,000 new Canadian immigrants chose to settle in the territories between 2001 and 2006. The Philippines was the leading source country, accounting for 24.5% of these recent arrivals.
Government & Immigration
Immigrants, considering relocating to the Northwest Territories may be suprised to learn that Northwest Territories has fewer rights than the provinces do. During his term, Premier Kakfwi pushed to have the federal government accord more rights to the territory, including having a greater share of the returns from the territory's natural resources go to the territory. Devolution of powers to the territory was an issue in the 20th general election in 2003, and has been ever since the territory began electing members in 1881.
Unlike provincial governments and the Yukon, the Government of Northwest Territories does not have political parties, except for the period between 1898 and 1905. It is a consensus government called the Legislative Assembly. This group is composed of one member elected from each of the nineteen constituencies. After each general election, the new parliament elects a premier and speaker by secret ballot. Seven Memebers of the Legislative Assembly are also chosen as cabinet ministers, with the remainder forming the opposition. The territory's most recent general election was on November 24, 2003. The head of state for the territories is a Commissioner appointed by the federal government. The Commissioner had full governmental powers until 1980 when the territories were given greater self government. The legislature then began electing a cabinet and Government Leader later known as the Premier.
The Premier of Northwest Territories is Joe Handley. The member of Parliament for Western Arctic, the riding that comprises Northwest Territories, is Dennis Bevington. The Commissioner of Northwest Territories is Tony Whitford.
The territory enjoys vast geological resources including diamonds, gold, and natural gas; which serve as an incentive for those considering it as a destination for Canadian immigration. In particular, NWT diamonds are touted as an ethical alternative that allays risks of supporting conflicts by purchasing blood diamonds.
However, their exploitation has raised environmental concerns, not the least of which is the potential havoc that a spill from tailings ponds, from mining operations, could cause to unspoiled wilderness areas such as the Nahanni National Park Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Nahanni National Park Reserve however is far away from any current diamond mine in production. Regions such as the Northwest Territories are always seeking skilled workers to immigrate to Canada.
The vast natural resources and relatively low population give Northwest Territorities the highest per capita GDP of all provinces or territorites in Canada make it particularly attractive to Canadian Immigration. In fact, its per capita GDP of C$94,953 would rank it first in the world if it were considered as its own country, well ahead of 2nd place Luxembourg (at approximately C$83,000 (nominal GDP)).
Major Territorial Mines
- Con Mine - 1938-2003 (gold)
- Giant Mine - 1948-2004 (gold)
- Ptarmigan and Tom Mine - 1941-1942, 1986-1997 (gold)
- Negus Mine - 1939-1952 (gold)
- Thompson-Lundmark Mine - 1941-1943, 1947-1949 (gold)
- Discovery Mine - 1950-1969 (gold)
- Camlaren Mine - 1962-1963, 1980-1981 (gold)
- Eldorado Mine - 1933-1940, 1942-1960, 1976-1982 (radium, uranium, silver, copper)
- Echo Bay Mine - 1964-1975 (silver and copper)
- Ekati Diamond Mine - 1998-current (diamonds)
- Diavik Diamond Mine - 2003-current (diamonds)
- Pine Point Mine - 1964-1988 (lead and zinc)
- Cantung Mine - 1962-1986, 2002-2003, 2005-current (tungsten)
- Rayrock Mine - 1957-1959 (uranium)
- Terra Mine - 1969-1985 (silver and copper)
- Tundra Mine - 1964-1968 (gold)
- Salmita Mine - 1983-1987 (gold)
- Colomac Mine - 1990-1992, 1994-1997 (gold)
The Northwest Territories's Official Languages Act recognizes the following eleven official languages, which is more than any other political division in Canada:
- North Slavey
- South Slavey
NWT residents have a right to use any of the above languages in a territorial court and in debates and proceedings of the legislature. However, laws are legally binding only in their French and English versions, and the government only publishes laws and other documents in the territory's other official languages when the legislature asks it to. Furthermore, access to services in any language is limited to institutions and circumstances where there is significant demand for that language or where it is reasonable to expect it given the nature of the services requested. In reality, this means that English language services are universally available and there is no guarantee that other languages, including French, will be used by any particular government service except for the courts.