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Nunavut (from Inuktitut: ᓄᓇᕗᑦ [ˈnunavut]) meaning “Our Land”, was separated officially from the Northwest Territories on April 1, 1999,

The idea of dividing Nortwest Territories was first proposed in the beginning of the sixties of the 20th century. In 1971 the direction of the Inuit Tapisirat of Canada / Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami recently created, declared that its goal was the creation of a new territory for the Inuit from the west of the Arctic.

In 1976, as part of the land claims negotiations between the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the federal government, the parties discussed division of the Northwest Territories to provide a separate territory for the Inuit. On April 14, 1982, a plebiscite on division was held throughout the Northwest Territories. A majority of the residents voted in favour and the federal government gave a conditional agreement seven months later.

The land claims agreement was completed in September 1992 and ratified by nearly 85% of the voters in Nunavut in a referendum. On July 9, 1993, the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act and the Nunavut Act were passed by the Canadian Parliament. The transition to establish Nunavut Territory was completed on April 1, 1999.



On 1 April 1999 Governor Genral Roméo LeBlanc approved the arms of Nunavut.

The dominant colours, blue and gold, are the ones preferred by the Nunanut Implementation Commissions to symbolize the riches of the land, sea, and sky.

In the base of the shield, the inuksuk symbolizes the stone monuments which guide the people on the land and mark sacred and other places. The qulliq, or Inuit stone lamp, represents light and the warmth of family and the community.

Above, the concave arc of five gold circles refers to the life-giving properties of the sun arching above and below the horizon, the unique part of the Nunavut year.

The star is the Niqirtsuiuq, the Nort Star and the traditional guide for navigation and more broadly, forever remains unchanged as the leadership of the elders of the community.

In the crest, the iglu represents the traditional life of the people and means of survival. It also symbolizes the assembled members of the Legislature meeting together for the good of Nunavut; with the Royal Crown symbolizing public government for all the people of Nunavbut and the equivalent status of Nunavut with other territories and provinces in the Canadian Confederation .

The tuktu (caribou, Cervus elaphus – Cervidæ) and the qilalugaq tugaalik (narwhal: Monodon monoceros) refer to land and sea animals which are part of the rich natural heritage of Nunavut and provide sustenance for people

The compartment at the base is composed of land and sea and features three important species of Arctic wild flowers.

The motto, in Inuktitut: ᓄᓇᕗᑦ ᓴᙱᓂᕗᑦ  (Nunavut Sanginivut), means: Nunavut Our Strength. [1] 


Nunavut Vice Regal Warrant, 1999


BY HIS EXCELLENCY The Right Honourable Roméo Adrien LeBlanc, Member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada, Chancellor and principal Companion of the Order of Canada, Chancellor and Principal Companion of the Order of Military Merit, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada;


To Judith Anne LaRoque, Commander of the Royal Victorian Order, Herald Chancellor of the Canadian Heraldic Authority, Greeting:


WHEREAS Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II did, by Letters Patent under the Great Seal of Canada, bearing the date the fourth day of June 1988, authorize and empower me to exercise or provide for the exercise of all powers and authorities lawfully belonging to Her Majesty as Queen of Canada in respect of the granting of armorial bearings in Canada;


AND WHEREAS the Parliament of Canada did enact the Nunavut Act, which received Royal Assent on the tenth of June 1993, and was amended by a subsequent Act receiving Royal Assent on the eleventh day of June 1998, which did provide that there shall be a new Territory in Canada known as Nunavut;


AND WHEREAS it has been determined by the Commissioners of the Nunavut Implementation Commission, established under the terms of the aforesaid Acts, that the more effective government of Nunavut requires that there should be established armorial bearings and a flag to be used in the identification of the property and services of the Government of Nunavut, and in such other ways as are customary in this regard, and to this end have recommended to me certain armorial bearings and a flag;


NOW KNOW YOU that I, having taken the same into my consideration, and pursuant to the authority vested in me by Her Majesty, do by these Presents grant and assign for the greater honour and distinction of Nunavut the following Arms on a circular shield: Or dexter a qulliq Sable enflamed Gules sinister an inuksuk Azure on a chief also Azure above five besants in arc reversed issuant from the lower chief a mullet (niqirtsuituq) Or; And for a Crest: On a wreath Argent and Azure a iglu affronty Argent windowed Or and ensigned by the Royal Crown proper; And for a Motto ᓄᓇᕗᑦ ᓴᙱᓂᕗᑦ , meaning “Nunavut Our Strength”;  And for Supporters: On a compartment dexter of land set with Arctic poppies, dwarf fireweed and Arctic heather proper sinister ice floes Argent set on barry wavy Azure and Argent dexter a caribou sinister a narwhal both proper; And I do further grant and assign the following flag: Per pale Or and Argent overall an inuksuk Gules in sinister canton a mullet (niqirtsuituq) Azure;


Which Arms and Flag are more plainly depicted to be borne and used forever hereafter on seals, banners or otherwise as shall be appropriate and all according to the Law of Arms of Canada;


AND I DIRECT, as is the custom in these matters, that you, Judith Anne LaRoque, Herald Chancellor, authorize Robert Douglas Watt, Chief Herald of Canada, to enter these Armorial Bearings in Volume III, page 293 of the Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges of Canada, and for so doing, this shall be your Warrant;


GIVEN under my hand and seal at Rideau Hall in the City of Ottawa on the thirty-first day of March in the year of Our Lord one thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine and in the forty-eighth year of Her Majesty’s reign. [2]



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© Hubert de Vries



[1]  Les Symboles du Canada. Patrimoine Canadien, 1999  pp.44-45.

[2] By courtesy of Robert D. Watt, Chief Herald of Canada, 2000.

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