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Yukon - North West Territory - Nunavut

The Yukon, a territory in northwest Canada, is wild, mountainous and sparsely populated. Kluane National Park and Reserve includes Mount Logan, Canada’s highest peak, as well as glaciers, trails and the Alsek River. In the far north is Ivvavik National Park, with protected calving grounds for Porcupine caribou. In the south are numerous glacier-fed alpine lakes, including boldly coloured Emerald Lake.

The Northwest Territories of Canada include the regions of Dehcho, North Slave, Sahtu, South Slave and Inuvik. Their remote landscape encompasses forest, mountains, Arctic tundra and islands in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Dehcho's Nahanni National Park Reserve centers around the canyons of the South Nahanni River and 90m-high Virginia Falls. The regional capital, Yellowknife, is on the north shore of Great Slave Lake.

Nunavut is a massive, sparsely populated territory of northern Canada, forming most of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Its islands have expanses of tundra, craggy mountains and remote villages, accessible only by plane or boat. It's known for its indigenous Inuit people's artwork, carvings and handmade clothing. Inuit art is displayed at the Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum in the capital, Iqaluit, on Baffin Island.

Find out more about the Territories using the Wiki links here:  



Yukon Economy and Employment

The economy of the Yukon is based heavily on its rich natural resources. Mining is the Yukon's largest industry. The importance of mining to the Yukon dates back to the end of the 19th century when a sizable discovery of gold led to the Klondike Gold Rush which saw between 30,000-40,000 people arrive in the territory in mere months, an event which set in motion the creation of the Yukon territory itself.

Business and administrative occupations make up the community's second-largest employment field after natural resources. In addition, government is a major source of economic activity in the capital city of Whitehorse, accounting for a significant portion of total employment. The economy of the Yukon has been gradually diversifying, and tourism now provides a sizeable portion of Yukon jobs and services. Unemployment in Whitehorse currently sits at roughly 7%, but varies seasonally. 


Yukon Standard of Living

The cost of living in Whitehorse is generally higher than in southern Canadian communities. It is lower on average, however, than the cost of living elsewhere in the Yukon or in communities in many parts of northern Canada. . Average family yearly income in the Yukon exceeds $94,000, making it possible to maintain a high standard of living that matches other areas of Canada.

A major portion of work in the Yukon is done on a seasonal basis, and standard weekly earnings exceed the Canadian average. In addition, the Yukon has no territorial sales tax. The minimum wage is currently $10.86/hr.


Yukon Residential Housing

One of the more appealing aspects of the high standard of living in the Yukon is the affordability of owning your own home. Suitable and affordable housing is readily available in the Yukon. Real estate sales show housing prices in Whitehorse to average roughly $384,500. Prices range significantly according to neighbourhood. 


Yukon Education

Throughout Canada, all citizens and permanent residents under the age of 20 are entitled to an education through to the end of secondary school provided by the government free of cost. The Yukon territory provides a comprehensive public education program from kindergarten through to grade 12. In addition, the public school system has extensive apprenticeship and co-operative education programs to build work skills in youth. The Yukon Territory's schools follow the curriculum developed by the neighbouring province of British Columbia.

The Yukon has one Post Secondary institution, Yukon College, which is located in Whitehorse. It offers university credit programs in arts, sciences, and northern studies, as well as programs in renewable resource management and environmental officer training.

Trades programs are available for apprentice-level and pre-employment training. Computer studies, business administration, office administration, tourism and culinary arts are available. Yukon College is also a member of the University of the Arctic, an international network of higher-education institutions around the North Pole region.


Yukon Health Care

Under Canadian Law, all provinces and territories must provide universal, publicly funded health care to all citizens and legal residents of Canada. In other words, most basic health services in Canada are offered at no direct cost to the patient. Certain procedures that are not deemed necessary (such as elective cosmetic surgery and a number of dental care procedures, for example) are generally not covered, but the list of services paid for publicly varies from province to province.


Yukon History

The Yukon Territory was born out of the Klondike gold rush of the late 19th century. Initially, the area which forms the Yukon had been part of Canada's Northwest Territory. In 1896 however, a major discovery of gold along the Klondike River brought a huge influx of people hoping to strike rich quickly. Over the course of less than a year, between 30,000-40,000 people arrived in the Yukon, into an area that had been sparsely populated. The response of the Canadian government was to create the separate territory of the Yukon, in order to manage the expanded population.

After a few years, many of the new arrivals to the Yukon had left, however mining in Yukon was only beginning. The Klondike gold rush stimulated a wave of exploration that led to two other smaller gold rushes in later years. Mining continues to play a major role in the economy of the territory today, taking advantage of the region's gold, lead, silver and zinc deposits.


Yukon Culture

The culture of the Yukon incorporates all the aspects of modern, multicultural Canada with the adventurous frontier spirit that defined the individuals who arrived in search of fortune during the Klondike gold rush. This spirit helps to make for a warm and lively community in the midst of a climate that can be harsh. These small but welcoming communities have a unique identity kept alive by tradition.

The Yukon is home to strong First Nations communities that had very little contact with English Canada until approximately 150 years ago. There are eight different aboriginal language groups native to the Yukon kept alive today by a thriving First Nations community. The First Nations culture plays a strong influence on the Yukon territory today.


Yukon Demographics

The Yukon today is home to roughly 37,000 people. The population of the territory has fluctuated significantly over the years with the discovery of new mineral deposits, though none as much as the initial Klondike gold rush.

First Nations people account for nearly a quarter of the territory's residents, one of the highest proportions of any Canadian province or territory. The population of the Yukon is also very multicultural, with its residents coming from all over the world. Approximately three quarters of the territory's population lives in the capital, Whitehorse.


Yukon Immigration

With a very small population, the Yukon is not a major recipient of new immigrants. However, much in the way that many newcomers arrived during the Klondike gold rush, immigrants continue to arrive in the province to take advantage of economic opportunities, particularly in mining. Nonetheless the current territory of the Yukon, like the rest of Canada, has been shaped strongly by the contributions of immigrants to the territory.

Immigration to the Yukon today is mainly to the capital city of Whitehorse. To attract immigrants that can contribute to the territory's economic development, the Yukon has a Provincial Nomination Program which can help immigrants who wish to settle in the Yukon to get to Canada faster.


Yukon Government

As a territory rather than a province, the Government of the Yukon has a more limited jurisdiction than its provincial counterparts in Canadian confederation. The Yukon does have elected representation in both houses of Canada's federal parliament as well as its own democratically-elected parliament. There are 18 representatives in the Yukon Legislative Assembly (located in the capital of Whitehorse). The territory has been led by Premier Darrell Pasloski and the Yukon Party since May of 2011.


Yukon Major City


As the capital of the Yukon, the city of Whitehorse is home to just over 28,000 people. The city is named after the nearby White Horse Rapids, which are said to look like the mane of a white horse. The city has been the capital of the Yukon since 1953, when it took over from Dawson City. The main industry and employer in Whitehorse is government services, with the mining industry at a close second.

Whitehorse acts as a major cultural center for the region. The city has hosted man editions of Canada's arctic winter games, and will soon host the Canada Winter Games, a major sporting event that attracts many of the country's top athletes. In addition, the city has a bustling cultural community, hosting such events as the Frostbite winter festival, an event which warms the city with music in the midst of its harsh winters.

Northwest Territories Economy and Employment

The NWT economy relies heavily on resource industries subject to wide fluctuations in world markets. Mining is the largest private sector industry, with major mines for ore including gold, uranium and recently diamonds. Oil and gas exploration and development in the Mackenzie River valley and offshore in the Beaufort Sea are also becoming important. The NWT has recently become home to a growing diamond industry as well, boosted by concerns about conflict diamonds from some other areas of the world.

Though the city remains small, the rapid growth of Yellowknife is bringing with it a more advanced service economy with a variety of opportunities. Though the boom is being managed carefully, the city is experiencing an influx of investment and people. Recent surveys indicate Yellowknife has the 3rd fastest growing economy in Canada, following only Vancouver and Toronto.

A large portion to the Northwest Territories population continues to rely on the Aboriginal peoples' traditional subsistence activities; fishing, hunting and trapping. Fur harvesting continues to be very important, supplementing the income of many Aboriginal families.

Development, while necessary for economic prosperity, is being carefully managed so as not to threaten the fragile Arctic ecosystem and the traditional lifestyles of the northern peoples.

The NWT unemployment rate is similar to the Canadian average of approximately 7%.


Northwest Territories Standard of Living

The geographic and climatic realities of life in the Northwest Territories can make the cost of living fairly high. Because of the higher transportation costs, many day-to-day items cost more than they would in major Canadian cities. Compensation, however, is higher in the NWT in order to offset the higher cost of living.

Average family income in the NWT is more than $105,000. The minimum wage stands at $10.50/hr. In order to attract skilled workers, employers will often pay a bonus or supplement in order to entice individuals to move northward to the NWT.


Northwest Territories Residential Housing

Housing in the NWT is often more expensive than the Canadian average, due to the costs associated with building structures capable of withstanding the cold climate. The average price of a house in the territory ranges from $275,000 to $310,000, making it one of the most expensive housing markets in Canada. However, the cost of a house can be 50% lower outside of Yellowknife than in the city itself.


Northwest Territories Education

In Canada, all citizens and permanent residents under the age of 20 are entitled to free education through the end of high school through the public school system. Despite the small population, the Northwest Territories has a comprehensive and first-rate public education system that covers a child from early childhood programs through Grade 12. The main school system is also augmented by apprenticeship programs and other training programs to prepare young people for careers. The schooling system is designed to meet the needs of indigenous communities as well as the general Canadian public.

The NWT has one major Post-Secondary institution, Aurora College, with campuses in Yellowknife, Fort Smith and Inuvik. The programs are directed specifically to the northern environment and the needs of individual learners, the workforce and northern communities.


Northwest Territories Health Care

Health care is considered a basic right in Canada. Under Canadian Law, all provinces and territories must provide universal, publicly funded health care to all citizens and legal residents of Canada. In other words, most basic health services in Canada are offered at no direct cost to the patient. Certain procedures that are not deemed necessary (such as elective cosmetic surgery and a number of dental care procedures, for example) are generally not covered, but the list of services paid for publicly varies from province to province.

Under the guidelines of the Canada Health Act, the NWT ensures that all residents have access to medically necessary hospital and physician services based on need, not on ability to pay. The NWT also provides a range of services beyond the Act's basic provisions.


Northwest Territories History

The initial borders of the Northwest Territories covered a major portion of present-day Canada. Prior to 1870, the territory was under the control of the Hudson's Bay Company, at which point it was transferred to the newly-formed Government of Canada. Over time the territory was parceled off to form many of the provinces and territories today west of Ontario, beginning with Manitoba in 1870 and continuing to the creation of the Nunavut territory in 1999. Even after all of this loss of territory the Northwest Territories remains a vast territory extending over a large portion of the Arctic.

The changes in borders over the years have reshaped the NWT on a number of occasions. With the removal of populations to form or join other provinces, the character of the NWT evolved to become identified more closely with a Northern and indigenous identity. This frontier history has left a strong mark on the NWT, helping to define its unique modern-day culture.


Northwest Territories Culture

The culture of the Northwest Territories identifies strongly with the region's aboriginal traditions. The descendants of the original Inuit inhabitants keep alive many of the languages and cultural practices of their ancestors. The NWT has eight official languages, with six aboriginal languages in addition to English and French. These traditional cultural elements are fused together in the Northwest Territories with modern Canadian culture to form a unique blend that is well appreciated by visitors to the territory.

Alongside the more traditional culture, Yellowknife is a growing modern city. One can find there many of the same stores, entertainment and other cultural elements you would find in any other Canadian city. However its Northern location and relative isolation give Yellowknife a strong community feel and a distinct character.


Northwest Territories Demographics

The population of the Northwest Territories has fluctuated significantly over the years with shifting borders and natural resource booms. The vast territory is now home to more than 43,000 people. Just under half of these individuals live in the capital city of Yellowknife, while the remainder are dispersed into much smaller settlements.

Nearly half of the residents of the NWT are of aboriginal descent. An additional 9% of the territory's population identify as Metis, a group of mixed aboriginal and French heritage. Combined these communities give a strong indigenous character to the territory. In Yellowknife however, one finds a mixed community much more characteristic of the rest of Canada.


Northwest Territories Immigration

With its small population, the Northwest Territories is not a major recipient of new immigrants in large numbers. Nonetheless, the Northwest Territories, like the rest of Canada, has been shaped strongly by the contributions of immigrants to the territory.

Immigration to the province today is mainly to the capital city of Yellowknife. With the city's economy booming thanks to natural resources, individuals are moving to Yellowknife to take advantage of economic opportunities. The strongest growth area is in diamond mining, followed closely by the oil and gas industry.

Learn more about the Northwest Territories Nominee Program (NTNP).


Northwest Territories Government

As a territory rather than a province, the Government of the Northwest Territories has a smaller jurisdiction than its provincial counterparts in Canadian confederation. The Northwest Territories does have elected representation in both houses of Canada's federal parliament as well as its own democratically-elected legislative assembly.

There are 19 representatives in the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories (located in the capital of Yellowknife). The territory has been led by Premier Robert R. "Bob" McLeod since October 2011.


Northwest Territories Major City


The economic and political capital of the Northwest Territories, Yellowknife is home to approximately 20,000 people. With the growth of the diamond industry, new arrivals continue to flow into the town and add a level of energy and excitement to the city.


With recent booms in the industry, unemployment in the city has fallen to an all-time low. As the capital city, government, along with the diamond industry, are the two major employers of Yellowknife. The city of Yellowknife is mixed and multicultural with representation from the various aboriginal communities in the region.

Nunavut Economy and Employment

Nunavut's economy is centered around the area's natural resources. Much of the Inuit majority of the territory maintains strong ties to the land and their livelihoods are then based on their traditional harvesting methods. The harvesting economy is worth at least $40 million annually and provides many families with an affordable and important source of nutritious food.

Supplementing these traditions are new opportunities, which are rapidly transforming the economy and creating many new jobs in Nunavut. Mineral exploration, focusing on gold, diamond, and base metal deposits, is a growing industry in Nunavut. In 2011, the gold produced at the Meadowbank mine had a market value of roughly $420 million. Additionally, fishing, tourism, and Nunavut's oil and gas reserves provide important and growing contributions to the territory's economy. 


Nunavut Standard of Living

Due to the challenges of vast distances, a small but growing population, the high cost of materials and labour, and extreme climate make it costly to maintain Canada's high standards of living in Nunavut. Residents must cope with a cost of living that can be significantly higher than many other places in Canada. The average household income in the Nunavut area is over $65,500 per year. However, the minimum wage stands at $11.00/hr, the highest in Canada.

In addition, the federal government takes a number of initiatives to compensate for the high cost of goods and services in Nunavut to ensure that its residents can enjoy the same standard of living that is available to all Canadians.


Nunavut Education

In Canada, all citizens and permanent residents under the age of 20 are entitled to a free education provided in the public education system through to the end of secondary school. Nunavut's department of education provides a comprehensive educational program that runs from early childhood education through Grade 12. Schooling is available in English, French and Inuktitut. The system also provides a number of programs aimed at developing skills geared towards finding employment and contributing to the economy.

Nunavut has one post secondary institution, Nunavut Arctic College, with campuses in Iqualuit and other areas. The college offers a number of professional and academic programs in Inuktitut and English.


Nunavut Health Care

Under Canadian Law, all provinces and territories must provide universal, publicly funded health care to all citizens and legal residents of Canada. In other words, most basic health services in Canada are offered at no direct cost to the patient. Certain procedures that are not deemed necessary (such as elective cosmetic surgery and a number of dental care procedures, for example) are generally not covered, but the list of services paid for publicly varies from province to province.

Nunavut has a fully comprehensive healthcare system, tailored to meet the unique challenges of low population density and difficult climate.


Nunavut History

The area which is now known as Nunavut has been home to a continuous population of Inuit peoples for over 4000 years. Despite contact with Europeans as early as the 1500's and becoming part of Canada's Northwest Territories in 1867, the people of Nunavut for the most part continued with their traditional lifestyles. Today the Inuit language and culture are alive and well in Nunavut.

Nunavut became a territory of Canada official on April 1st, 1999, making it Canada's newest territory. Prior to this point the area which is now Nunavut had been part of Canada's Northwest Territories. While Nunavut entered into Canadian confederation in 1999, the beginnings of its formation actually lie much earlier. As early as 1976, land claims by the Inuit people led to discussions with the federal government on the division of Northwest Territories.

In 1982, a vote was held in the Northwest Territories which strongly approved such a decision. After a long period of discussions on boundaries, the agreement was ratified by 85% of the voters in Nunavut in 1992. It was decided that Nunavut would become a territory in 1999, to allow time to build capable administration.


Nunavut Culture

The culture of Nunavut is strongly identified with the indigenous Inuit population. The Inuit people refers to a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples that inhabit the Arctic regions of North America. There are several Inuit languages, however the most common one is Inuktituk. Traditionally the Inuit way of life involved hunting and fishing, and confronting the challenges of survival in the Northern climate. While modernization has altered many of these traditions, the Inuit people take great effort to keep their culture alive.

Modern Nunavut is a mixture between the Inuit culture and modern Canadian culture. One can find there most of the same cultural interests one can find elsewhere in Canada, but also the unique Inuit culture. The Inuit culture is gaining increasing global attention because of its attitudes towards preserving nature and because their lifestyle is threatened by global warming.


Nunavut Demographics

With only approximately 36,500 residents inhabiting an area that occupies one fifth of Canada's total land mass, Nunavut has one of the lowest population densities in the world. Approximately 85% of the population is of Inuit descent. In addition the territory is host to other aboriginal First Nations and Metis communities.

Approximately nearly 7,000 people live in Nunavut's capital Iqaluit. The next largest community is Arviat, at just over 2,300. Most of the residents live in communities of under 1,500 people. This is in line with the maintenance of traditional Inuit communities in Nunavut.


Nunavut Immigration

At only 36,500 total residents, Nunavut does not receive a great deal of immigration on an annual basis. With the mining industry beginning to take off however, Nunavut is eager to attract skilled workers who can contribute to the growth of its economy. Many employers in Nunavut will pay an additional supplement to offset the higher cost of living in Nunavut.


Nunavut Government

As Nunavut is a territory of Canada rather than a province, the federal government maintains a greater control over its affairs than it would compared to provincial governments.  For those affairs that are under its control, Nunavut has its own democratically elected parliament located in the capital of Iqaluit.

Politics in Nunavut take a slightly different form than elsewhere in Canada. Nunavut's legislature does not feature any political parties. Rather representatives are elected independently to represent a certain geographic area. The parliament then operates by consensus, selected a premier from amoungst their members. The current Premier of Nunavut is Peter Taptuna. In addition, the Premier has a council of 11 Inuit elders to advise him on incorporating Inuit culture and knowledge into his policies.


Nunavut Major City


The city of Iqaluit, formerly known as Frobisher Bay, is the capital of Nunavut as well as its largest city. At under 7,000 people, it has the lowest population of any capital city in Canada. Iqaluit was chosen to be the capital of Nunavut by a referendum amoungst its residents, making it fairly unique among Canadian capital cities.

The first permanent settlement at Iqaluit was established in 1942 as an airbase and defense operation. While the Inuit had always referred to the area as Iqaluit, which means "many fish" (because of the abundant fishing stocks in the area), Canadian authorities named it Frobisher Bay after the body of water on which it is located. The name was officially changed in 1987.

As the capital city of Nunavut, government services are a major employer in the Iqaluit area. In addition the growth of mining and oil and gas operations in Nunavut means these industries are increasing their presence in Iqaluit. The city is growing at a rapid pace.

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