The small Inuit population of Nunavut was able to maintain their traditional nomadic way of life as hunters and fishermen for generations after European settlers arrived in southern Canada due to the territory’s vast expanse and severe environment. The elaborate carving techniques, distinctive music, and Inuktitut language, which is the native tongue of around 65 percent of Nunavummiut people, have all been preserved by the Inuit of Nunavut.
Nunavut may have always been a huge territory with a sparse population, yet the Inuit have lived there for at least 4,000 years. The Inuit were originally whale hunters, but some 500 years ago they switched to seal and caribou hunting. The finest venue to learn more about Inuit culture is at the Nunatta Sunaqutangit Museum (Building 212, Iqaluit), particularly on days when local elders offer personal accounts.
Despite 2008 archeological finds of European artifacts at Cape Banfield, some people still think that the Viking explorers who briefly stayed in northern Newfoundland traveled as far north as Baffin Island about the year 1000. English explorer Martin Frobisher, who is credited with being the first known European to enter Nunavut, thought he had discovered gold ore close to the bay that now bears his name while searching for the Northwest Passage in 1576.
In search of the legendary Northwest Passage leading to Asia’s wealth, Robert Bylot, Henry Hudson, and William Baffin also sailed into the far north during the 16th century. However, until the expedition of Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen between 1903 and 1905, no European had ever successfully navigated across. At the Northwest Passage Trail (Gjoa Haven), visitors may discover more about Amundsen and his interactions with the local Inuit.
Before the Canadian government forcefully evacuated numerous tribes from northern Quebec to two remote High Arctic towns called Grise Fiord and Resolute in the early 1950s, the Inuit continued to practice their traditional way of life for millennia. Many of these individuals starved to death and struggled mightily to adapt to their new, permanent surroundings. In 2010, the government issued a formal apology for their participation.
Although discussions of a distinct Inuit homeland started in 1976, formal agreements were not completed until 1992. In 1993, the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act was formally enacted, and Nunavut was admitted as Canada’s newest territory in 1999. Although Nunavut had some growing pains in its first ten years as an independent territory, its people have always been proud, and the future has never looked more promising.
The Inuit of Nunavut have done an outstanding job of maintaining their culture throughout the years. The primary language in Nunavut is Inuktitut, and the region maintains its own Inuit Broadcasting Corporation. In Nunavut, traditional arts like as soapstone carving, throat singing, and dancing to the beat of antiquated drums are all still very much in use.
The Inuit of Nunavut have, nevertheless, also diversified into more contemporary media. European instruments like accordions, fiddles, and others have been used into musical performances. While Igloolik’s Artcirq circus group has performed at the 2010 Winter Olympics and numerous other places across the world, the Nunavut Animation Lab provides animation training seminars in three Nunavut settlements. Tanya Tagaq is a throat singer who has worked with artists including Björk and the Kronos Quartet.