Nunavut Day in Canada Date in the current year: July 9, 2019

Nunavut Day in Canada Nunavut Day is a public holiday in the Canadian territory of Nunavut. It is celebrated on July 9 to commemorate the anniversary of the day when the present-day boundaries of Nunavut were defined.

Nunavut (“our land” in Inuktitut) is the largest in area but at the same time the most sparsely populated of Canada’s provinces and territories, largely because of its polar climate. Were it a sovereign state, it would be the fifteenth-largest country in the world, but its population is only 35,944 (by way of contrast, Indonesia has roughly the same area, and a population of over 261 million people). On top of that, Nunavut is Canada’s newest territory. It became an independent territory only two decades ago. Before that, Nunavut was part of the Northwest Territories.

The mainland part of the region now known as Nunavut came under government authority in 1870, becoming part of the Dominion of Canada. A decade later, the British government transferred the Arctic Islands to Canada as well. In the following years, Canada integrated a number of newly discovered Arctic islands into the Northwest Territories.

The Inuit have always constituted the majority of the population of the Nunavut region. Discussions on granting them their own territory first began in the 1950s. In 1971, Inuit leader and politician Tagak Curley founded Iniut Tapiriit Kanatami (originally named the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada), an organization representing the Inuit. After conducting a series of studies, the organization’s experts concluded that it would be reasonable to provide a separate territory for the Inuit by dividing the Northwest Territories along the ethnic lines.

In 1976, the Iniut Tapiriit Kanatami and the Government of Canada began negotiations concerning the division of the Northwest Territories. In 1982, the Northwest Territories division plebiscite was conducted; 56.48% of voters supported the division.

On July 9, 1993, the Parliament of Canada passed the Nunavut Claims Agreement Act and the Nunavut Act. These documents defined the boundaries of the territory of Nunavut and provided for a transitional period that eventually lasted for almost six years. On April 1, 1999, Nunavut officially came into being as a separate territory.

The following year, Nunavut Day was celebrated on April 1. However, after the first celebration the holiday was moved to July 9 in order to emphasize the significance of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement and the Nunavut Act.

Nunavut Day is a public holiday in the territory of Nunavut, and as such it is a day off for territorial public servants. However, it is not a public holiday for federal public servants, and many businesses choose to remain open during the day.

Nunavut Day is celebrated with various cultural events and activities, such as community-wide breakfasts, speeches by political and public leaders, traditional dancing, games, Nunavut history and culture competitions, and more. In some communities, it is customary to serve traditional food, such as burgers made from muskox meat.

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Category

Anniversaries and Memorial Days

Country

Canada

Tags

Nunavut Day in Canada, holidays in Canada, public holidays, regional holidays, Nunavut