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Voters choose N.W.T. split

On April 1, 1999, the new territory of Nunavut was born, finally making the controversial dream of the Northwest Territories' Inuit a reality. It meant the Inuit gained self-rule and control over their own institutions. This was the result of years of lobbying Ottawa and numerous plebiscites overwhelmingly in favour of self-determination. But along with the territory come the challenges: combating suicide, reversing assimilation and regaining a sense of identity.

In 1982, the majority of voters in a plebiscite choose to split the Northwest Territories in two, creating a mainly Inuit eastern territory. The federal government is not bound by the plebiscite, but its results convey a strong message of Inuit commitment to self-determination. More than 80 per cent of the region's Inuit participate and more than 80 per cent say "Yes" to the creation of Nunavut, which means "our land" in Inuktitut.

The Dene people in the western part of the territory also vote in favour. However, Yellowknife - a mainly non-native community - votes against the new territory.
. On Nov. 26, 1982, the federal government conditionally consented to the creation of Nunavut.
. In 1963, earlier legislation to divide the Northwest Territories never made it through Parliament.
. The Inuit Tapirisat of Canada (ITC), a political group of young Inuit, lobbied the government to speed up the creation of the new territory.

. In 1979, the federal government created a riding in the Northwest Territories called Nunatsiaq, which represented what is today's Nunavut. That year, member of Parliament Peter Ittinuar spoke the first Inuktitut words in Parliament.
Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: April 15, 1982
Guest(s): John Munro, Herbie Norwegian, Kane Tologanak
Host: Knowlton Nash
Reporter: Whit Fraser
Duration: 2:00

Last updated: January 13, 2012

Page consulted on March 3, 2014

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