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Nunavut: Government

On April 1, 1999, Nunavut was officially named Canada's third territory. As the newest partner in the federation Nunavut is the latest development in Canada's nation building.

The creation of Nunavut marked a profound shift in how Canada relates to Aboriginal people. Inuit, as the majority population of Nunavut, are shaping the territorial government in keeping with their culture, traditions and aspirations. All residents of the territory regardless of their origin elect the Government of Nunavut. All citizens have the right to vote and run for office. Jobs in the government of Nunavut's public service are open to all residents. Inuktitut is a working language of the government. Government services are also available in English and French.

Under the 1993 Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, Inuit received from the federal government a settlement of $1.1 billion to be paid in annual installments until 2007. Inuit also gained control of about 356,000 square kilometres of land (about 18 per cent of Nunavut), of which nearly 38,000 square kilometres include title to subsurface (mineral) rights.

The Agreement also gave Inuit the right to self-government and self-determination. While Inuit represent 85% of the population in the Nunavut area, they have chosen to pursue their aspirations to self-determination through a public government structure rather than through Inuit-specific self-government arrangements. Nunavut is governed through a public government framework that represents all residents, Inuit and non-Inuit alike.

The Nunavut public government system includes an elected Legislative Assembly, consisting of a Speaker, Premier, a seven-member Cabinet and 10 Regular Members. The system also includes the Nunavut Public Service and a single-level trial court.

While Nunavut has the same status and powers as the Northwest Territories and Yukon Territory, it also operates in a way unique from any other jurisdiction in Canada - incorporating Inuit values and beliefs into a contemporary system of government. Its working language is Inuktitut, but other languages used in government are Inuinnaqtun, English and French. Inuit culture is promoted through the Department of Culture, Language, Elders and Youth, which plays a key role in helping all departments, develop and implement policy reflective of Inuit values.

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