The creation of Nunavut was the result of over thirty years of hard work on the part of individuals, organizations and government, united by a vision and by their determination to realize a dream.
The concept of dividing the NWT dates back to the 1950s when non-aboriginals in the Mackenzie Valley in the western part of the NWT pushed to divide the territory, arguing the move would allow the West to move more rapidly to responsible government.
The idea to split the Northwest Territories into two territories was first introduced as a bill in the federal House of Commons in 1963. The bill was, at this time, however, cancelled after the first reading.
In 1971, the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada (ITC) was formed with the responsibility to pursue and negotiate a land claims agreement with the federal government for the Inuit of Northern Canada. In 1973, Inuit Tapirisat of Canada (ITC) began a study of Inuit land use and occupancy, which formed the geographic basis for the new territory. Three years later, ITC formally proposed the creation of a Nunavut Territory.
The argument for creating two new territories in Canada's North centered around the desire of people in Nunavut to have their own government, one that is closer to the people and more culturally-based, including the use of Inuktitut as the working language of the new government.
In 1982, the Tungavik Federation of Nunavut (TFN) was incorporated to pursue land claims negotiations on behalf of the Inuit of Nunavut, taking the mandate from the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada.
In a boundary plebiscite, 56% of voters in the Northwest Territories voted in favour of creating Nunavut on April 14, 1982 and in November of that year, the Canadian government announced that Nunavut would be created.
On May 14, 1992, the majority of N.W.T. residents voted in favour of the proposed boundary between Nunavut and the Western Arctic.
The Inuit of Nunavut ratified the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement in November of 1992. Subsequently, the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement was signed by the Prime Minister of Canada on May 25, 1993 in Iqaluit, and passed through the Canadian Parliament in June of the same year. The $1.1 billion Nunavut Land Claims Settlement Agreement was proclaimed at a special ceremony in Kugluktuk on July 9, 1993. As part of the Nunavut Act, the Government of Canada agreed to provide $150-Million to cover the costs associated with the creation of Nunavut.
The Territory of Nunavut was created on April 1, 1999. New boundaries were drawn in Canada's North created two new territories, a new NWT and Nunavut (which means "our land" in Inuktitut). With this change, the map of Canada was redrawn for the first time since 1949, when Newfoundland joined confederation.