January 1, 2000 Issue 29 - Special Edition
Nunavut, Canada's Newest Territory
On April 1, 1999, Canada officially recognized a new territory: Nunavut. Located in Canada's eastern NW territory, Nunavut 's tundra and ice plains have been home to tens of thousands of Inuit for over 4,000 years. It's home to the magnetic North Pole, half the world's polar bear population, and 750,000 caribou. It also represents 1/5 of Canada's landmass. Now, Nunavut is an political jurisdiction of Inuit governing themselves.
1800 people gathered inside old military hangars about 1,250 miles north of the nearest city, Montreal. There, three new judges, 19 new legislative assembly members, and a territorial commissioner were sworn in as fireworks rocketed over ice chunks in Frobisher Bay.
In 1971, Inuits living above the Arctic Circle joined other native groups in receiving $1 billion and 44 million acres of land. However, Natives still had no real autonomy until Greenland's Inuit residents won home rule from Denmark in 1979. And this year, 1999, marks the return of political power to their Canadian brothers and sisters.
Although a few leaders and celebrities have visited this area (Nelson Mandella, Charles Lindberg, Tom Cruise), few Canadians have seen Nunavut. Most locations can only be reached by plane.
" Living in a place like this you do not see people for weeks at a time because of the distance between them and also the weather. So we learn to deal with our problems. You've got to remember, we were a hunting and gathering society for many years and to go from that to creating our own self-government is no small feat. If we hit a brick wall, we'll go around the brick wall. What we have is a steely determination to keep moving forward," says Jack Anawak, who is the new Territory's Minister of Justice.
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Creates New Arctic Territory For Inuit