Is Nunavut a Province?

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Is Nunavut a Province? Before we begin the geography of Canada, let’s first understand the difference between a province and a territory in the country of Canada.

The territories present in Canada are the northwest territories. The difference between the Canadian province and the Canadian territory is that a province is created under the 17 April 1982 Constitution Act, while a province is created by the federal law of the government of Canada.

In 1867, the British North America’s three provinces: Nova Scotia, the Province of Canada (which later on got divided into Quebec and Ontario), and New Brunswick came into a union and formed a Canadian federation. This Canadian federation would aid in making the country fully independent. The British North America Act of 1867 now also known as the Constitution Act of Canada .

The governing powers from the act got divided between the form of a liberal government and the separate provincial governments.

Canada in terms of the area is known to be the second-largest country in the world. It is a blend of three territories and ten provinces. The territories and provinces of Canada are the sub-divisions within the country’s geographical framework, which have their regional centers. 

Nunavut, Canada
Photo by Damon On Road on Unsplash

Canadian History

Is Nunavut a province? The answer to this question lies in Canadian history. The debate around the question is whether Nunavut is a province or a territory can be answered through a series of acts and events happening as a part of the historical events of Canada.

In 1867, when the confederation of the three provinces of British North America took place, a federal union was formulated. Multiple acts came into the formulation and were powerfully executed within the ongoing years of constructing the Canadian provinces and territories.

These acts came under the British Parliament in 1867. Though a federal union was achieved, that did not mark the independence of Canada from the country of Great Britain. Canada becoming an independent nation was altogether a different process.

The 1867 British North America act was called the Constitution Act. A legislative assembly was formed by the three territories Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Province of Canada, which came into a union. This union consisted of four provinces: Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick.

Later on, under this act, the other British possessions like The Hudson Bay Company’s lands (Rupert’s land), the three territories, namely (Prince Edward Island, British Columbia capital, Newfoundland, and the territories of the northwestern edge continent (called the northwestern territory) came into a federal union. This federal union was done under the orders of the Parliament of Canada and the respective legislative assemblies of Canada’s three territories.

The Arctic islands were also surrendered to Canada by Britain in 1880. The enforcement of this act aimed to establish provinces in territories not included in the provinces and establish their autonomous governments and administration, which will even establish the fact that Nunavut is a province.

In 1870, Manitoba was established from a part of the Northwest territories. The aggregation of Rupert’s Land and the Northwestern part of Canada was acclaimed and was called the Northwestern territory.

Under the orders of the executive council of the British crown, British Columbia and Prince Edward Island came into the Canadian federal union and became a province. In 1898, the western part of the northwest territories was prepared and organized to become a separate territory called the Yukon Territory. Most of the southern part of the Northwest Territories was prepared and became two separate provinces called Alberta and Saskatchewan in 1905.

Further, in the year 1949, the oldest British possession of North America came into union under the laws of the Canadian Parliament and became a province called Newfoundland. Later on, in 1993, the eastern part of the northwestern territories got organized and formed an individual territory of Canada called the territory of Nunavut.

The laws acclaim that some regions of Canada need to be marked and claimed as provinces and territories to mark the right geographical areas. The areas or provinces not considered earlier were recognized and given to the indigenous people belonging to the area. The issues of monarchy and governance were all being taken care of under Canadian sovereignty.

Canadian Provinces and Territories

Canada has an official site providing information and all the necessary knowledge about the provinces and territories that a person needs to look for. The official site mentions the data regarding the place, population as per the statistics Canada, activities, economic development, culture, and backgrounds.

Many details have been available on a separate official site showing information and data regarding Nunavut’s territory and government.

Map of Canada
Photo by Lirch from Unlimphotos

There is a list of 10 provinces and 3 territories that are a part of the state of Canada. Following are the Canadian provinces:

a) Ontario – The largest city and the provincial capital, is Toronto

b) Quebec city – The provincial capital of the city is the Quebec city, and the largest city is Montreal

c) Nova Scotia – The largest city and the provincial capital is the Halifax

d) Manitoba – The largest city and the provincial capital is the Winnipeg

e) New Brunswick – The provincial capital of the city is Fredericton, and the largest city is the Moncton

f) British Columbia – The provincial capital of the city is Victoria, and the largest city is Vancouver

g) Alberta – The provincial capital of the city is Edmonton, and the largest city is Calgary

h) Prince Edward Island – The provincial capital and the largest city in Charlottetown

i) Saskatchewan – The provincial capital of the city is Regina, and the largest city is Saskatoon

j) Newfoundland and Labrador – The provincial capital and the largest city is St. John’s

The Canadian provinces, namely Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, and New Brunswick, were formulated in 1867. British Columbia was formulated in 1871; Prince Edward Island in 1873; Saskatchewan and Alberta in 1905; and Newfoundland and Labrador in 1949.

The following are the Canadian territories:

a) Northwest territories – The largest city and the capital being the Yellowknife

b) Yukon – The largest city and the capital being the Whitehorse

c) Nunavut – The largest city and the capital being the Iqaluit

The Canadian territories namely the northwest territories formulated in the year 1870, Yukon in the year 1898, and Nunavut became a territory in the year 1999. Is Nunavut a province? Yes, it was a province which became a territory with Canadian independence.

This estimate of the formulation of provinces and territories is according to the statistics Canada from the year 2015.

The territories like the Yukon, Nunavut and Northwest territories account for a one-third area of the country of Canada and are a habitat to around 0.3% of the population. The territories generally occupy the geographical area of Canada’s north.

The Yellowknife territory of the northwest territories is the best place known to see famous Canada’s northern lights. The northern lights are seen here due to the city’s position, landscape, and clear night skies.

The Canadian provinces account for the vast majority of the area and habitat to around 86% of the population. Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, and British Columbia are the four largest provinces and are most populated near the Canada-US border.

According to the 2006 and 2011 consensus, the Canadian population had outgrown by 5%. All of Canada’s provinces and territories incurred population growth during that time except for the province of New Brunswick, which shows a decline in population by 0.5%.

The province or territory witnessed the fastest-growing population increase in Nunavut, followed by Alberta, around 12.7% and 11.6%. Some of Canada’s provinces, such as Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland, and Labrador, had experienced a decline in population and were undergoing periods of stagnation.

The growth was seen in the western part of Canada, while a decline was seen in Atlantic Canada. Ontario and Quebec are the most populated parts of Canada, accounting for around 60% of the population. After the Goldrush in 1898, Yukon was designated as a separate territory with separate territorial governments.

14 Known Facts About Nunavut

1 Nunavut Territory

Nunavut is the largest territory and occupies northern Canada’s landmass. It is separated from the Canadian territories of the northwest under the Nunavut Act and the Nunavut legislature of land agreement. This agreement offers land to the people of Inuit culture for the independent territorial government.

Nunavut Act is the act that came into enforcement in April 1993. According to this act, the Parliament of Canada made the eastern part of the Northwest Territories into the territory of Nunavut.

In 1999, Nunavut became a separate territory and had its own Nunavut government. Gradually starting the question of Is Nunavut a province? and to this, the answer to becoming home to millions is an achievement of its own.

It occupies a vast portion of northern Canada and the majority part of the Arctic archipelago. Because of the large area covered, it makes it the fifth-largest subdivision of the country in the world and is also the second-largest in the region of North America after Greenland.

The Frobisher Bay or recently called as capital Iqaluit found in the east of Baffin Island, and the regional centers of Cambridge Bay and Rankin Inlet are all a part of the Nunavut community.

Several islands like Ellesmere Island in the north, southern and eastern portions of Victoria Island in the east, Akimiski Island in the southeast, and all islands at the James, Ungava, and Hudson Bay are part of Nunavut. Nunavut is the only territory of Canada not connected by highway to the rest of North America.

It is one of the remote, scarcely settled regions of Canada. The Nunavut population is around 39,589, mainly consisting of Inuit people and non-Inuit people. The total land area occupied is equal to 1,877,787 km square. It also accompanies the inhabitants of the northernmost part of Canada.

2 History of Nunavut

The word Nunavut has a specific meaning to it and is called “The Land” in the native Inuit language. The region of Nunavut around 4500 years back was inhabited by Paleo-Eskimo culture called the Pre-Dorset people. About 28oo years ago, this Pre-Dorset culture was succeeded by the Dorset culture.

Helluland explorers came and visited in their Sagas of Islanders and were seen to be historically connected to one of the Nunavut’s coastal waters. In the 11th century, the people from Thule came visiting from Alaska and started exploring the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. These Thule people are recognized as the ancestors of the modern Inuit.

3 European Exploration

An English explorer by the name of Martin Frobisher explored Europe in search of gold ore around the water body. This water body was named Frobisher Bay, found on the coast of Baffin Island. No gold ore was found, but the exploration established the first contact with the Inuit people.

During 1970, many revolutions occurred among many Inuit people, Innus, and the first nations people. As a result of these activities and a part of the land claim agreement policy, negotiations occurred between Inuit Tapirisat and the form of a federal government. After the contest and negotiation of the parties, the federal government agreed on the division of the territories of the northwest.

4 Geography

Nunavut is located at a higher altitude and experiences icy, subarctic, and polar climates in the region. The temperature variations exist between -30 C only along the east coast while the north and northwest temperatures reach around -35 C. In the northern and northwestern areas of Hudson Bay, the temperature reaches around -35 C in January.

The climatic changes are milder in July and range from 10 c to 5 C along the North American Arctic areas. The temperature becomes so high that people have to use snow goggles to prevent snow blindness. These are generally used by the Yupik people of the Arctic and the Inuit people of Nunavut.

The temperature variations are seen throughout the year but more from January to July. However, July seems to be the mildest month of the year. However, the area is prone to witness sudden and extreme changes in its weather due to the western Arctic islands. Melting permafrost, sudden high temperatures, reducing ice shelves, thinning, and falling-out glaciers.

The vegetation zone found throughout the region is tundra, and the soil is covered with permafrost all around the year. The vegetation of the tundra consists of mosses, lichens, hard shrubs, variations of plants, and birches. The area’s plant life can feed mammals, musk oxen, and caribou. The animal life includes a set of predators, including wolves, grizzly bears, and red arctic foxes.

Due to the higher temperatures coming from the coastal waters of the Arctic coast, it favours the animals suitable for such weather and conditions. Walrus, Seals, and Polar bears inhabit the place. Bowhead whales, narwhals, and Belugas are seen along the arctic waters.

When there is suitable weather in the area, the area witnesses the flock of aquatic birds in migration are seen at the summertime, the species like Snowy owl, Grey Falcon, and some breeds of ptarmigan are seen all year round. Generally, the tundra vegetation is abundant during this weather season in biting insects and mosquitoes.

5 Language and the People

The majority population of the Nunavut is the Inuit people and the people of European origin. Inuktitut is the language of the Inuit people consisting of words of the different dialect groups. The European missionaries developed some writing systems: The syllabic system and the Roman Letters.

Inuinnaqtun is a famous word belonging to the group of Inuit dialects recognized by the government of the territory, which the Nunavut premier speaks. It is generally seen in Roman letters and is considered one of the official languages among the other four. The other three languages are spoken English, Inuktitut, and French).

6 Economic Development

Apart from the people and culture, Nunavut’s most significant wealth is its natural resources. It consists of ferrous and non-ferrous ores. Reserves of petroleum, natural gas, diamonds, and precious metals exist here.

Over the years, the government has provided infrastructure and resources to the people and aid in mineral exploration. The government provides the public services of electricity supply, source of income, and employment to its people.

7 Mining Activities

The major asset-oriented, resource-driven industry of the territory of Nunavut is mining. Various zinc and lead reserves are worked upon in the area of the Island of Little Cornwallis. These mineral reserves have been searched and explored in the territory since 2002 after their depleted levels for some time.

About 220 miles southwest of Cambridge Bay, a diamond reserve exists and is being explored. On the mainland of Contwoyto Lake, located southwest of Bathurst Inlet. Many other natural gas and oil reserves exist in the country, which needs to be searched for and tapped into the hidden treasures.

8 Hunting and Fishing Activities

The territory runs along the Canadian Arctic waters; therefore, home to many water animals like fish, whales, and seals. This makes hunting and sport fishing the most popular sport among the people, and it even attracts a lot of tourists from all over the country.

Shrimps, Arctic chars, and Turbot are regularly fished from the waters and are a regular export item to the southern markets. The sale of these seafood items is maximum in the communities located in the eastern Arctic.

The hunting of seals is potentially being done to sell their skins to garment manufacturers in the commercial market.

9 Employment

There are plenty of services that people derive their employment from by working in healthcare, education, administration, and welfare. The territory is known for its mining activities, so there is a high demand for people to work in the construction industry, providing private and public sector jobs. The place even attracts some migrant workers who may attract high wages due to their labor.

As compared to the other provinces and territories of Canada, the rate of unemployment is relatively high in the territory of Nunavut. The majority of the revenue is derived from the government; the other forms of revenue collection come from consumption, income generated by various sectors, and taxation on property.

10 Transportation

Transportation in Nunavut
Image Source: Freepik

There are three routes of transportation existing in the territory for heavy and light-loading materials. The majority of the goods are carried and transported via air. For the means of carrying heavy weight, surface transportation is needed by water.

The fuel reserves of oil and other huge goods are supplied by cargo ships to the eastern Arctic by several commercial carriers. Vehicles suitable for the terrain of Nunavut and snow vehicles are available for the commercial goods that need to be supplied by road.

At times of underdevelopment, dog-sledding was also being used as one of the mediums by the Inuit people. However, the activity has become a means of recreation for the people now.

11 Constitutional Powers

To be recognized, a territory has its governing powers and administration. The people of the territory are provided with their rights and duties under the constitution of Canada.

The central constitutional powers lie in the form of a federal governing body of Ottawa. The administration of such a government body has a commissioner chosen by the government of Canada and a Legislation assembly appointed by the territory’s people. The territorial council assigned at Iqaluit consists of the governing powers.

The legislative assembly has a speaker, a premier, and the chosen cabinet of indigenous peoples that constitute the government. The Trial court heads the judicial system on a singular level. As part of the policing services provided in the community, the Royal Mounted Police of Canada is in charge of law enforcement.

12 Education and Health

Earlier the education system was under the hands of missionaries. But with time, the territory offers primary and secondary schooling to the children.

The Iqaluit’s Nunavut arctic college has a variety of courses and post-secondary programs to offer education in. The financial support to the Aboriginal people for education is provided by the Indian federal department and Northern Affairs body of Canada.

The health sector also provides plenty of healthcare facilities to the territory’s people. Various hospital setups, community healthcare centers, and community centers are available to provide employment and care to its people. Medical insurance plans are also on the go for the ease and comfort of the people.

13 Life in Nunavut

With the modern-day developments occurring around the country of Canada, the place has made sure to preserve the historical belongings and the cultural souvenirs of its heritage.

The cultural belongings of the Inuit are in the form of art and crafts like weaving, printings, and carvings on the stone to be made. These handicrafts must be manufactured and sold in the commercial market for promotion and supplementary income for its people.

The Canadian artist and author James Archibald Houston believed in the culture of Inuit art and even made efforts to promote and save the culture. The Inuit singer and lyricist Susan Aglukark was also instrumental in promoting the culture of the Inuit people and promoting art in a very modern context.

14 Sports and Media

Various outdoor activities in Nunavut include fishing, hunting, kayaking and hiking. There are various places of recreation, including national parks, which are zones of protected areas. Various national parks are Auyuittuq National Park; Quttinirpaaq National Park on Ellesmere Island; National Park on Sirmilik and Byot Island; Migratory Bird Sanctuary in the Gulf of Queen Maud, and Ukkusiksalik national park on the main lands.

There are a lot of print and electronic media in the form of newspapers, radio, and television stations present in Nunavut. They are available in the official languages of English and Inuktitut for the ease of the locals and other inhabitants. There is even a Thelon Wildlife sanctuary shared with the Northwest Territories.

Canadian Top 10: Facts About Nunavut

Last Updated on by Sanjana

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