LIVING IN CANADA : NUNAVUT
Nunavut is the largest and newest of the territories of Canada; it was separated officially from the vast Northwest Territories on April 1, 1999 via the Nunavut Act and the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act, though the actual boundaries were established in 1993. The creation of Nunavut resulted in the first major change to Canada's map since the incorporation of the new province of Newfoundland (including Labrador) in 1949.
The capital, Iqaluit (formerly "Frobisher Bay") on Baffin Island, in the east, was chosen by the 1995 capital plebiscite. Other major communities include the regional centres of Rankin Inlet and Cambridge Bay. Nunavut also includes Ellesmere Island to the north, as well as the eastern and southern portions of Victoria Island in the west. Nunavut is both the least populated and the largest of the provinces and territorities of Canada. It has a population of only 29,474 spread over an area the size of Western Europe. If Nunavut were a sovereign nation, it would be the least densely populated in the world: Nearby Greenland, for example, has almost the same area and twice the population.
Nunavut means 'our land' in Inuktitut, the language of the Inuit. Its inhabitants are called Nunavummiut, singular Nunavummiuq. Along with Inuktitut, Inuinnaqtun, English, and French are also official languages.
The territory covers about 1.9 million square kilometres of land and water in Northern Canada including part of the mainland, most of the Arctic Archipelago, and all of the islands in Hudson Bay, James Bay, and Ungava Bay (including the Belcher Islands) which belonged to the Northwest Territories. This makes it the fifth largest subnational entity (statoid) in the world. If Nunavut were a country, it would rank 13th in area, after the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Nunavut has land borders with the Northwest Territories on several islands as well as the mainland, a border with Manitoba to the south of the Nunavut mainland, and a tiny land border with Newfoundland and Labrador on Killiniq Island. It also shares an aquatic border with the provinces of Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba.
The creation of Nunavut created Canada's only "four corners", at the intersection of the boundaries of Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan, at 60°00' north, 102°00' west, on the southern shore of Kasba Lake. This is not the tourist spot it might be, as it is extremely remote and inaccessible. Nevertheless there is a marker (albeit an out-of-date one) at the point, and some have made the trek.
The highest point in Nunavut is Barbeau Peak on Ellesmere Island at a height of 2616 metres (8583 ft).
Geologically, Nunavut lies on the Canadian Shield, with very thin soil lying on top of the bedrock, and many bare outcrops. This arrangement was caused by severe glaciation during the last ice age, which covered the Shield and scraped the rock clean. The extreme age of the base rock (Precambrian Era, over 540 million years old) is one of the main factors for the rich veins of ores and minerals that have been found in the territory. The multitude of rivers and lakes in the region is caused by the watersheds of the area being so young (dating from the end of the last ice age), with the added effect of post-glacial rebound. Virtually all of Nunavut's rivers drain into Hudson Bay or the Arctic waters.
Arctic tundra (Köppen climate classification ET) covers virtually all of Nunavut. The exceptions are a tiny area in the extreme southwest, where a marginal taiga forest exists; and small zones of permanent ice caps (class EF), found on some of the larger Arctic Islands at sites having a relatively high elevation. Nunavut's vegetation is partially composed of berries, lichens, Arctic Willows, moss and tough grass.
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.
- Lupin Mine - 1982-present (though currently in the process of being shut down) - gold (located near the Northwest Territories boundary near Contwoyto Lake)
- Polaris Mine - 1982-2002 - lead and zinc (located on Little Cornwallis Island, not far from Resolute)
- Nanisivik Mine at Nanisivik - 1976-2002 - lead and zinc (near Arctic Bay)
- Rankin Inlet Mine - 1957-1962 - nickel and copper
- Jericho Diamond Mine - 2006-present - diamonds (located 400 kilometres (250 mi) northeast of Yellowknife)
Several mining projects are in the works; as of January 2006 Miramar Mining Corporation's Doris gold project and Cumberland Resources's Meadowbank gold project were in the process of review for approval.
Nunavut's head of state is a Commissioner appointed by the federal Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. As in the other territories, the commissioner's role is symbolic and is analogous to that of a lieutenant governor. While the Commissioner is not formally a representative of the Queen of Canada, a role roughly analogous to representing the Crown has accrued to the position.
The members of the unicameral legislative assembly are elected individually; there are no parties and the legislature is consensus-based. The head of government, the premier of Nunavut, is elected by, and from the members of the legislative assembly.
The territory's first legislature was dissolved on January 16, 2004, with an election shortly thereafter. Faced by criticism of his policies, Premier Paul Okalik set up an advisory council of eleven elders, whose function it is to help incorporate "Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit" (Inuit culture and traditional knowledge, often referred to in English as "IQ") into the territory's political and governmental decisions.