Centennial Flame monument updated to include Nunavut, 18 years after territory created

It's taken almost two decades, but Nunavut is finally getting a spot on the Centennial Flame monument. The government will unveil the updated monument today and reignite the flame.

Parliament Hill monument was built to celebrate Canada's 100th birthday in 1967

From right to left, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Nunavut Premier Paul Quassa, Governor General Julie Payette and Commissioner of Nunavut Nellie Kusugak reignite the Centennial Flame during a ceremony marking the addition of Nunavut, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

It's taken almost two decades, but Nunavut finally has a spot on Parliament Hill's Centennial Flame monument.

The monument was built to celebrate Canada's 100th birthday in 1967, long before the creation of Nunavut some 32 years later.

For weeks, crews have been working to turn the dodecagon into a tridecagon to include Nunavut's imagery. The flame was extinguished during construction, but was reignited with help from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Gov. Gen. Julie Payette, Heritage Minister Melanie Joly and Nunavut Premier Paul Quassa.

The stone fountain, a popular photo stop for tourists, now includes imagery from the shields of the 10 provinces and three territories and their official flowers.

Nestled between Newfoundland and Labrador and the Northwest Territories, Nunavut's shield includes an inukshuk, meant to guide people, and an Inuit stone lamp known as a qulliq. It is said to represent the light and warmth of the community. 

Its territorial flower is purple saxifrage.

Carbon neutral flame

Heritage Canada said the granite panels that the shields rest on are now smaller to accommodate Nunavut.

The patina on the original 12 shields were brightened to match the new Nunavut plaque, but the fresh green colour will eventually weather to a brownish hue.

Officials said the flame has been carbon neutral since September.

"It will continue to use conventional natural gas while an equivalent amount of renewable natural gas is added to the vendor's supply of natural gas, thereby eliminating the Centennial Flame's carbon footprint," said Heritage Canada in a statement.

The ceremony has been almost a year in the making. Officials with the Canadian Heritage Department, the lead on the project, informed the government of Nunavut on Dec. 22 last year about the plan.

The Senate, House of Commons and National Capital Commission were consulted, and Public Services and Procurement Canada was put in charge of getting the job done in Canada's sesquicentennial year.

The Centennial Flame was ignited late on Dec. 31, 1966, by then-prime minister Lester B. Pearson. The flame drew on a continuous stream of natural gas from Western Canada that bubbles through water cascading underneath. The flame helps keep the moving water ice-free in winter.

The monument was supposed to be dismantled after a year, but proved so popular it was left in its place at one end of the walkway on the parliamentary lawn leading north to the Peace Tower.