Fifteen years ago today, Canada carved 2,038,722 square kilometres off the Northwest Territories and created an entirely new territory in the North: Nunavut.
The idea of a separate government for Canada's Inuit people dates back to land claims negotiations between the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (Canada's national Inuit organization) and the federal government in the mid-'70s, and gathered steam with a plebiscite of Northwest Territories residents in 1982, in which 56.5 per cent of the population voted in favour of splitting the territory. In this 1982 clip from The National, Whit Fraser reported the landmark results of the vote:
But it took 17 more years before new territory of Nunavut was finally born. One of the sticking points was figuring out just where the boundaries should go. On Sunday Report, Peter Mansbridge spoke to Fraser about the issues of borders, as well as disputes over resources rights:
In 1992, as land claims settlements with the Inuit were wrapping up, some leaders of the Dene people came out strongly against the proposed boundaries, which they argued would cut through their territory.
Finally, at midnight on April 1, 1999, the Nunavut Act and the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act came into effect, creating a new territory and kicking off a round of celebrations for Canada's big experiment in native self-government, as Raj Ahluwalia reported in The National.
At this year's Venice Architecture Biennale, one of the biggest exhibitions devoted to architecture around the world, the Canadian pavilion will be called Arctic Adaptations. The project, led by the Toronto-based firm Lateral Office, celebrates Nunavut's 15th birthday by exploring the responses to building and living in Canada's Arctic. Here's a rendering of what the pavillion will look like:
If you're one of the 32,000 residents of Nunavut, the territorial government is sponsoring a "Nunavut at 15" contest, where you can win an iPad, iPod or a box of country food for submitting an essay, photos, video or musical performance about how you're celebrating the territory's 15th anniversary.