Nunavut Officially Becomes Canada's Newest Territory

The Florida Times Union, March 31, 1999 | Go to article overview

Nunavut Officially Becomes Canada's Newest Territory


IQALUIT, Nunavut -- Dignitaries and foreign TV crews crowded into this small Baffin Island town yesterday, and Inuit chefs prepared a huge feast featuring caribou, musk ox and raw seal to celebrate the creation of Nunavut, Canada's newest territory.

Stretching deep into the Arctic, with only 25,000 residents in an area as large as Western Europe, Nunavut (pronounced Noo-nah-voot) is the product of the largest land-claims settlement in Canada's history and gives its Inuit majority their long-sought chance at self-government.

The new capital, Iqaluit (pronounced Eee-kah-loo-eet), is normally home to 4,500 people. More than 1,000 visitors were expected for ceremonies starting with a midnight fireworks show to mark Nunavut's official birth. The festivities run through today.

Nunavut is being created out of the eastern 60 percent of the Northwest Territories. About 85 percent of Nunavut's 25,000 people are Inuit, as are 15 of the 19 candidates elected in February to the territorial legislature.

The main ceremony, to be attended by Prime Minister Jean Chretien, will be at midday today in a complex of hangers designed to deploy jet fighters in the event of a Soviet military threat during the Cold War. Nunavut's flag will be raised for the first time.

Over the past few days, several preliminary ceremonies have taken place, including the presentation of a new Canadian 25-cent coin designed by Inuit artists and engraved with an owl and bear.

Nunavut's new ceremonial mace also was unveiled -- made of the tusk of a narwhal, a walrus-like creature. …

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