Nunavut | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Nunavut, which translates from the Inuktitut dialect of the Eastern Arctic Inuit as "Our Land," is a Canadian territory.

Auyuittuq National Park
  1. July 15, 1870

    Prince Rupert

    Government and Politics 

    Transfer of Rupert's Land

    The British Crown officially transferred Rupert's Land and the North-Western Territory to Canada. These lands comprise present-day Manitoba, most of Saskatchewan, southern Alberta, southern Nunavut, and northern parts of Ontario and Québec.

  2. December 31, 1876

    Indigenous Peoples  People 

    Death of Tookoolito

    Inuit Arctic guide Tookoolito, also known as Hannah, died. Born on Cape Searle (in present-day Nunavut), Tookoolito joined exploration expeditions with her husband, Ipiirvik. They accompanied American explorer Charles Hall on his Arctic journeys, including the ill-fated Polaris expedition, during which the couple saved many of the crew from icy deaths.

  3. September 01, 1880

    Claiming the Archipelago, 1909

    Government and Politics 

    Arctic Sovereignty

    British sovereignty over the Arctic Islands passed to Canada.

  4. February 04, 1916

    Muskox on Sea Ice

    Sports and Culture 

    Birth of Pudlo Pudlat

    Pudlo Pudlat, Inuk graphic artist whose work displays the paradoxes of the encounter between two cultures, was born at Kamadjuak Camp, Baffin Island, NWT.

  5. August 19, 1928

    Indigenous Peoples  Sports and Culture 

    Birth of Qaqaq Ashoona

    Inuit sculptor Qaqaq Ashoona, whose sculpture is acclaimed for the sense of monumentality and strength he imparts to animal and human subjects alike, was born at Ikerrasak camp, south Baffin Island, NWT (now Nunavut).

  6. April 27, 1948

    Sports and Culture 

    Birth of Michael Kusugak

    Michael Kusugak, Inuit children's writer, was born at Repulse Bay, NWT.

  7. May 05, 1949

    Mother & Child

    Sports and Culture 

    Birth of George Arluk

    George Arluk, Inuit artist and sculptor, was born in the Keewatin region, NWT. Arluk grouped figures together to form abstracted compositions of gently curving forms that undulate rhythmically.

  8. January 01, 1950

    Indigenous Peoples 

    Inuit Enfranchised

    The Inuit were enfranchised without restrictions. However, the geographic isolation of northern communities meant that many did not have the opportunity to vote until ballot boxes were placed in all Inuit communities for the 1962 federal election.

  9. January 01, 1971

    Indigenous Peoples 

    Inuit Tapirisat of Canada

    The Inuit Tapirisat of Canada (Tapirisat, meaning Brotherhood in English) was founded. The ITC was created by an organizing committee of Inuit who decided it was time to speak with a united voice on various issues concerning development of the Canadian North and preservation of Inuit culture. In 2001, the ITC was renamed the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.

  10. September 30, 1973

    Indigenous Peoples  Sports and Culture 

    Death of Peter Pitseolak

    Inuit photographer, historian and artist Peter Pitseolak died at Cape Dorset (Kinngait), NT (now Nunavut). Pitseolak spent most of his life in traditional camps during a time when life in the North was undergoing immense change. He used photography to document a way of life that many believed was disappearing.

  11. January 01, 1976

    Indigenous Peoples 

    Nunavut Land Claims Presented to Government

    The Inuit Tapirisat of Canada submitted a formal land claims proposal to the Government of Canada.

  12. January 01, 1976

    Government and Politics 

    Nunatsiaq Riding Created

    A federal riding was created in the Northwest Territories. Called Nunatsiaq, it represented territory that now comprises Nunavut.

  13. January 01, 1982

    Indigenous Peoples 

    Tungavik Federation of Nunavut Established

    The Tungavik Federation of Nunavut (TFN) was established in order to negotiate a land claims agreement with the Government of Canada.

  14. April 14, 1982

    Government and Politics 

    Northwest Territories Plebiscite

    The majority of voters (56 per cent) chose to divide the Northwest Territories in two in a territorial plebiscite. The division would create a mainly Inuit eastern territory. Over 80 per cent of the territory’s Inuit voted, more than 80 per cent of whom voted in favour of the creation of Nunavut. The results of the plebiscite were not binding federally.

  15. May 28, 1983

    Pitseolak Ashoona, Joys of Summer Inland, 47.5 x 60.5 cm, colour stonecut on laid japan paper, 1960.

    Sports and Culture 

    Death of Pitseolak Ashoona

    Pitseolak Ashoona, Inuk graphic artist known for her lively prints showing "the things we did long ago," died at Cape Dorset, NWT (now Nunavut).

  16. January 01, 1988

    Ellesmere Island

    Resources and Environment 

    Quttinirpaaq National Park Established

    Quttinirpaaq National Park was established and was Canada's second-largest national park (after Wood Buffalo National Park). First known as Ellesmere Island National Park, Quttinirpaaq is Canada's most northerly national park and the most northerly land in North America. Its Inuit name, taken in 1999, reflects it location, "top of the world."

  17. May 04, 1992

    Government and Politics 

    Nunavut Boundary Plebiscite

    A plebiscite was held in order to confirm the boundary between the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Fifty-four per cent voted in favour of the proposed boundaries.

  18. November 03, 1992

    Indigenous Peoples 

    ​Inuit Accept the Terms of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement

    A majority of Inuit beneficiaries voted to accept the terms of the proposed Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. In tandem with the Nunavut Act, the land claims agreement led to the creation of the territory of Nunavut.

  19. June 10, 1993

    Government and Politics 

    Nunavut Act Receives Royal Assent

    The Nunavut Act, which established the new territory and its government, received royal assent in Parliament. The territory's Inuit population became beneficiaries under the Nunavut Land Settlement Agreement, which also received royal assent on this day. Nunavut officially became Canada’s third territory on 1 April 1999.

  20. September 06, 1996

    Government and Politics 

    Residents Keep NWT Name

    Residents of the Northwest Territories voted to keep that name for the western part of territory after the eastern part became the territory of Nunavut in 1999.

  21. June 02, 1997

    Government and Politics  Indigenous Peoples 

    First Inuit MP Elected

    Liberal Nancy Karetak-Lindell was elected the first Member of Parliament for the newly-created riding of Nunavut, and became the first Inuit woman elected to the House of Commons.

  22. February 15, 1999

    Government and Politics 

    First Woman Elected to the Nunavut Legislative Assembly

    Manitok Thompson became the first woman elected to the Nunavut Legislative Assembly.

  23. April 01, 1999

    Nunavut Flag

    Government and Politics 

    Nunavut Declared

    The new territory of Nunavut, covering some 2 million sqare kilometers of the eastern Arctic, was declared as part of Canada's first territorial changes since Newfoundland joined Confederation in 1949.

  24. January 01, 2001

    Auyuittuq National Park

    Resources and Environment 

    Auyuittuq National Park Established

    Auyuittuq National Park was established. It was Canada's first national park located north of the Arctic Circle. It was first set up as a national park reserve in 1976 and established as a national park through the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.

  25. January 01, 2003

    Resources and Environment 

    Ukkusiksalik National Park Established

    Ukkusiksalik National Park was established. Located on the northwest side of Hudson Bay in Nunavut, it was first proposed as a National Park in 1978 because of the spectacular inland sea, Wager Bay, and the surrounding area. The name Ukkusiksalik in Inuktitut means "the place where soapstone to make pots and oil lamps is found."

  26. November 14, 2008

    Government and Politics 

    Aariak Becomes First Female Premier of Nunavut

    Eva Aariak, the MLA for Iqaluit East and Nunavut's former languages commissioner, defeated Paul Okalik to become Nunavut’s second premier and the territory’s first female premier. She was, however, the only woman in the legislature.

  27. November 29, 2011

    Indigenous Peoples 

    Eeyou Marine Region Land Claims Agreement

    The Eeyou Marine Region Land Claims Agreement, recognizing the Indigenous rights and title of the Cree of Eeyou Istchee, received assent. The land claims process began in 1974. The Agreement is unusual because it traverses boundaries. For instance, the settlement area includes a section of Northern Québec coastline and offshore islands claimed by Nunavut.

  28. January 08, 2013

    Kenojuak Ashevak, artist

    Sports and Culture 

    Kenojuak Ashevak Dies

    Kenojuak Ashevak, a Nunavummiuq artist whose work became an icon of the Canadian Arctic, died at age 85 in her home at Cape Dorset, Nunavut.

  29. September 09, 2014

    Sir John Franklin.


    Franklin Expedition Ship Discovered

    The HMS Erebus, one of Sir John Franklin's expedition ships, was found submerged off the coast of King William Island. The ship was part of Sir John Franklin's 1845 expedition to find the Northwest Passage from the Atlantic Ocean to Asia.

  30. September 12, 2016

    Sketch of the H.M.S. Terror at Sunrise July 14, 1837


    Discovery of HMS Terror

    A team from the Arctic Research Foundation (founded by Jim Balsillie) announced that they had found the second lost ship of the Franklin expedition, HMS Terror, in Nunavut’s Terror Bay, north of where the Erebus was found in 2014. The discovery was confirmed by Parks Canada on 26 September 2016.

  31. October 14, 2021

    Disasters  Government and Politics  Resources and Environment 

    State of Emergency Declared in Iqaluit Due to Tainted Water Supply

    Two days after discovering petroleum hydrocarbons in Iqaluit’s water supply, the Government of Nunavut declared a state of emergency in the city. (See also Water Treatment; Water Pollution.) The first of at least five shipments of potable water arrived in Iaqluit by airplane. The water was distributed in rations of 16 litres per household. Officials believed the contamination was caused by the effects of melting permafrost on underground pipes.