OCT 29th UPDATE: Elections here are over - the premier here, Eva Aariak, was defeated by a newcomer in the very riding I live in. I met both of them campaigning door to door. Sorry for the lateness of this post - my web host was hacked and I wasn’t able to post for more than a week.
Most of you reading this blog probably know nothing or very little about Nunavut. I knew very little myself when I was thinking about coming up here. When I grew up in Canada, we had 10 provinces and 2 territories, the later being Yukon and Northwest Territories. Nunavut became a separate territory only in 1999, carved out of the eastern portion of the Northwest Territories as part of a lands claim settlement between the Government of Canada and the Inuit, Canada's northernmost First Nations people.
All of Nunavut lies above the tree line, and it extends from Hudson Bay and the Manitoba border to the south, all the way up past the Arctic Circle. All of Nunavut's major settlements except for one - Baker Lake - lie on the coastline.
One of the more interesting things about Nunavut is that it is governed by consensus. There are no political parties; all candidates run as independents. This system is also found in the NWT. Elections are coming up here on Oct 28, so the CBC had a very good story on how the consensus government works, with some good discussion of its advantages and disadvantages: http://www.cbc.ca/elections/nunavutvotes2013/features/view/what-is-consensus-government
80% of the population is Inuit, although this proportion is a little lower in Iqaluit, the capital, where I live. The rest of the population is mostly white, say the statistics. This is undoubtedly true, but I have also seen a few non-white, non-Inuit faces on the street. There is an enormous shortage of medical staff here - not to mention skilled staff of many kinds - so I'm guessing this is drawing a more diverse group of people to the city.
Iqaluit was formerly known as Frobisher Bay, the same name as the bay on which it is located. Frobisher Bay was established as an American air base in 1942, and became part of the DEW (Distant Early Warning) line under NORAD in the 1950s at the height of the Cold War.
Today, Iqaluit is dominated by the Government of Nunavut, the major employer in town. When you google pictures of downtown Iqaluit, most of the buildings you will see house territorial or federal government offices. It is much more urban than most of Nunavut and, as is said of most capital cities, very different from the rest of the territory it represents. And different from every other capital city in Canada, as you will see in future posts.
Nunavut legislature in downtown Iqaluit
My work building, the Sivummut Building, which houses Justice, Education and Health. For orientation, the federal building is in the foreground, which is the building behind the legislature in the first pic.
The RCMP building, across the road from my building and kiddy-corner from the federal building. The ridge of buildings above is a suburb called “The Plateau.” It is not as far away as the Road to Nowhere, but apparently it is windier.