On today’s date in 1999, Canadians from coast to coast celebrated the creation of Canada’s youngest territory, Nunavut.
Eighteen years later, in May 2017, Canada Post unveiled its seventh of 10 “Canada 150” stamps, this commemorating Nunavut’s creation and celebrating the people who call the vast northern territory home.
Nunavut Premier Peter Taptuna and Commissioner of Nunavut Nellie Kusugak unveiled the stamp at the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut on 926 Federal Rd. in the capital city of Iqaluit, about 2,000 kilometres north of Ottawa.
“It gave us hope for Inuit and people of the territory that there’s a vision and purpose going forward,” said Taptuna about the 1999 creation of Nunavut. “It gave us some security, a sense of security that we’re in charge of our own destiny.”
The stamp features an image of Leah Ejangiaq Kines, photographed by her spouse Clare Kines, both of whom are residents of Arctic Bay, Nunavut.
BECOMING A TERRITORY
Beginning in the late 1960s and continuing through the 1970s, a sustained effort took hold among Inuit groups to negotiate land claims with the federal government and secure their own territory.
Negotiations intensified in the 1980s and ultimately led to the July 1993 Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act between the federal government and Government of the Northwest Territories, which laid the foundation for the creation of the territory of Nunavut on April 1, 1999.
The creation of Nunavut was the first major change to Canada’s map since Newfoundland and Labrador joined Confederation in 1949, and came about from the largest Aboriginal land claims settlement in Canadian history. The territory encompasses about one-fifth of Canada’s land mass and is home to fewer than 40,000 people, most of them Inuit.
Nunavut means “our land” in the Inuit language of Inuktitut.