Archive | When Nunavut became Canada's third territory


Archives | When Nunavut became Canada's third territory

On April 1, 1999, the new territory of Nunavut can raise its flag.

In 1999, Nunavut entered the Canadian Confederation. On the occasion of Nunavut Day celebrated on July 9, a look back at the culmination of a long struggle for Inuit self-government.

On April 1, 1999, maps of Canada suddenly became obsolete. A third northern territory is added to the Yukon and the Northwest Territories (N.W.T.): Nunavut.

The Canadian Confederation had not known such a change in its borders for fifty years, with the creation of Newfoundland.

Originating from the eastern half of the Northwest Territories and including most of the Arctic islands, Nunavut is 85% Inuit. For a people struggling with serious social problems, this historic passage brings hope.

The people of Nunavut want to find a balance between tradition and modernity, while preserving their culture and their identity.

Report by Marc Godbout in Iqaluit for the inauguration of the new territory of Nunavut. The newscast is presented by Stephan Bureau.

“At the stroke of midnight, the Inuit entered a new era,” says journalist Marc Godbout, sent to Iqaluit to cover the event for Téléjournal.

Present at the inauguration ceremony, the Prime Minister of Canada Jean Chrétien underlines it with pride: the creation of Nunavut marks a historic moment. This is the first time that a major power has redefined its internal borders to accommodate Indigenous claims.

The “Father of Nunavut” John Amagoalik, who worked for thirty years to achieve this goal, responds enthusiastically. “It's the happiest day of my life,” he told reporter Marc Godbout in English amid the celebrations.

“A new flag is flying in the Arctic and in the Canadian political landscape”, concludes in images the journalist.

A few weeks earlier, on February 15, 1999, Nunavut held its first election to form a government.

The new territory opts for a consensus government , without a political party, which will have jurisdiction over health, education, justice, social services and culture.

The Prime Minister and the Cabinet will be appointed after the elections among the independent deputies.

Nunavut Premier Paul Okalik's speech at the inauguration ceremony of the new Canadian territory. The special is hosted by Bernard Derome.

It was only after the formation of its first government that Nunavut could officially enter Confederation.

Also on April 1, 1999, the television special Nunavut, our land follows the inaugural ceremony of the new territory.

“I think this is a highly anticipated, very important speech for this 34-year-old,” said host Bernard Derome as the newly elected Prime Minister arrived and was greeted with a standing ovation.


In a speech alternating between English, French and Inuktitut, Premier Paul Okalik discusses his government's objectives. A government that will represent its people well, with the challenges and changes that are called for.

“Today we recognize and celebrate our arrival at this destination” , says Paul Okalik. “We, the people of Nunavut, have taken control of our destiny, and once again we will determine our own course.”

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