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Nunavut: From Tundra to Territory

By John Corcelli

 

Get out your maps. Journalists are going to have a brand new Canadian topic to cover in 1999. It's about a major change in the governance of Canada's North. The Northwest Territories are about to be divided to form Nunavut and the Western Territory effective April 1st, 1999. An idea 25 years in the making.

Geographically, it means a redrafting of the map of Canada. The Western Territory will have Yellowknife as its capital and will include most but not all of the District of Mackenzie. Nunavut, 1.9 million square kilometres in size, will include all of the territory from the western line of the District of Keewatin, Baffin Island and the District of Franklin to the North Pole. The capital will be Iqaluit on Baffin Island. The Western Territory will not border the Arctic Ocean northward; this area will be part of Nunavut.

The transition to Nunavut has been laid out by the Nunavut Caucus and its responsibilities include the creation of an Action Plan leading to the April 1st date. The Nunavut government will have an elected Assembly of 19 members and a Commissioner of Nunavut. The new government is being planned as a decentralized one. The estimated start-up cost is $150 million over three years.

As the Caucus has said, "The establishment of the Nunavut Government will be the fulfillment of the long held aspirations of the people of Nunavut to have their own government. [This] represents an historic moment in Canadian history." Eva Arreak in the Nunavut Communications Office told me that the people are very excited by the fulfillment of long established land claims becoming a reality. "The territory now has a real identity with representation and a vision for the future," she said. And that's the difference with Nunavut: it's an idea from the people themselves in co-operation with the Federal Government. The people are going to get a Territorial government responsive to their needs, in their language.You're going to hear a lot more about Nunavut in the next year. Parliamentary Names & Numbers will have listings for the new territorial governments as they become available. In the meantime, you can contact the Nunavut Public Affairs office in Iqaluit at (867) 979-5822.

Let the celebration begin!


John Corcelli is a National Account Manager for Sources.
May 1998

 



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