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Nunavut Day

Nunavut Day

A by-the-numbers look at Nunavut's favourite holiday
By Katie Weaver
Jul 09
From the July 2015 Issue

1: Nunavut Day used to be celebrated on April 1, the day in 1999 when it officially became a territory. Games, feasts and festivities in each community now take place on July 9, the day the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement was signed and sealed in 1993.

2 Winners who tied for first place in Kugluktuk's Best Woman contest in 2014. Maime Oniak and Bessie Sitatak blew away the competition in the fish filleting, bannock making and tea boiling contests. Andy Ohoilak out-duck-pluck'd the rest to nab Best Man.

3 degrees Celsius. The day's high in Grise Ford on Nunavut Day 2014. 

4 million: That's how many mosquitos one farmer caught in Taiwan in a 2010 contest offered by a bug-catching company. Igloolik makes a Nunavut Day competition out of catching mosquitos, too, except instead of combatting dengue fever, they're just doing it for fun.

5: The number of crackers you have to stuff into your mouth before trying to whistle for another of Igloolik's competitions.

6: An unlucky number. The ugly fish competition in Arviat awards prizes to the first five people that catch a sculpin. If your ugly fish is sixth... well, at least you have a kanayuk.

7 bucks: Communities host free public barbeques with hamburgers and hotdogs, alongside more traditional foods. But condiments can cost a mint. Like ketchup--it's at least seven bucks for the no-name stuff in Iqaluit.

8: The number of country food tastes you'll want to try and cram onto your plate. Try muktuk, Arctic char, frozen caribou, dried caribou, seal, smoked char, muskox with a side of bannock.

9: The number of Inuktitut films that played at the Astro Theatre for Iqaluit's Nunavut Day in 2014.

10 minutes: That's all it took the fastest seal skinner in Iqaluit to do the job last year. The meat went to elders; the winner took home a drum of gasoline.

11: The number of traditional games played on Nunavut Day: one-foot high kick, two-foot high kick, the airplane, the knuckle hop, the Alaska high kick, the one-hand reach, the head pull, the arm pull, the sledge jump, the triple jump and the Illupik.

12: Number of statutory holidays in Nunavut--for government workers, that is. Nunavut Day isn't a mandatory holiday for private sector workers. Yet.

13: Baker Lake holds traditional wear fashion shows, and seamstresses of all ages get into it. In 2014, the winner of the girls' 13-20 year old category was Dana Tunnuaq.

14: The number of years over which $1.148 billion was paid to Inuit by the Government of Canada as per the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.

15: The number of pencil portraits of elders by Manitoba artist Gerald Kuehl unveiled in Baker Lake at a 2010 Nunavut Day event.

16 Candles in your Nunavut Day cake after the territory's sweet sixteen on April 1. 

17 Years between the 'yes' vote to split the NWT in 1982, and the year Nunavut officially became a territory in 1999. 

18 and under: If you're a kid on Nunavut Day, you've hit the jackpot. Face painting, bouncy castles, and tons of games (pin the Inukshuk on the flag!) are reserved just for you.

19: Don't worry if you're over 19, though. In Pangnirtung's candy toss, adults fight over the sweets right along with the kids.

20: Jena Merkosak's age when she was named Miss Pond Inlet on Nunavut Day 2012. 

21: Approximate number of hours the sun is above the horizon in Cape Dorset on July 9. 

22: The anniversary of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement this year.