Our True North: Strong, Free and Changing

On April 1, 1999, the map of Canada changed with the birth of the new territory of Nunavut.

Thirty years ago, a new territory in the eastern Arctic was the stuff of dreams. On April 1, that dream became a reality.

Nunavut means "our land" in Inuktitut, the Inuit language. It is a vast territory—larger than Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Quebec combined—that contains one fifth of Canada’s land. This will be the first major change to the map of Canada since Newfoundland joined Canada 50 years ago, in 1949.

Nunavut’s lands are made up of the central and eastern portions of the Northwest Territories. To Inuit, this land, their ancestral home for thousands of years, has always been Nunavut.

The new government is the result of many years of discussion and negotiation among Inuit and other Northern leaders, in partnership with the governments of Canada and the Northwest Territories. As the newest partner in the federation, Nunavut is the latest development in Canada’s nation building. All Canadians can take pride in the outstanding achievement the birth of the new territory represents. Canada has redrawn its map peacefully, democratically and in partnership. This territory’s creation is anchored in a central ideal—that Canada’s flexible federation supports diversity.

The creation of Nunavut also marks a profound shift in how Canada relates to Aboriginal people. Inuit make up about 85 percent of the population of Nunavut, so they will be able to shape government systems that suit their culture, traditions and aspirations.

This is a day for all Canadians to celebrate as it ushers in a new and exciting era for northerners on both sides of the new boundary line. On April 1, inaugural ceremonies from Iqaluit will be broadcast live on CBC Television at 11:30 a.m. (EST). The Iqaluit ceremony includes remarks by the Governor General, Prime Minister, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and the new Nunavut Premier. The highlight of the ceremony will be the presentation of the new flag and coat of arms of Nunavut. At the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Hull, Canada’s new map will be presented followed by special cultural activities.

For more information about Nunavut, please visit the Web site at Or you may write to Publications and Public Enquiries at the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Ottawa, K1A 0H4. Or telephone (819) 997-0380.