Every year on July 9, we celebrate Nunavut Day — the day the Parliament of Canada passed the Nunavut Act. Along with the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, it officially declared Nunavut as a distinct region that is legally separate from the Northwest Territories. The act was originally passed on April 1, 1999, but we celebrate Nunavut Day 8 days later—the day of the passage of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, which is more historically significant.

When is Nunavut Day 2024?

Canada’s Nunavut Act is celebrated on July 9 every year.

History of Nunavut Day

To understand Nunavut’s history, it is important to know the background of the Northwest Territories. In 1870, Rupert’s Land and the Hudson’s Bay Company land were united with Canada and were known as the Northwest Territories. From 1876 till 1895, the Northwest Territories were divided into the provisional districts of Alberta, Keewatin, Athabasca, Franklin, Mackenzie, Assiniboia, Saskatchewan, Yukon, and Ungava.In 1880, the North American Arctic Islands claimed by Great Britain were added to the Territories. The Yukon District was separated into a territory in 1898, and the provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta were created in 1905. The boundaries of Keewatin, Mackenzie, and Franklin were defined by an order effective from January 1, 1920.The territory of Nunavut was created under Bill C-132 of the Statutes of Canada, assented to on June 10, 1993, and the Act was made effective on April 1, 1999. The map of Canada was also redrawn, with the Northwest Territories partitioned into two territories. This is how Nunavut, the homeland of Canada’s Inuit people, came into being. Consisting of the central and eastern Arctic regions, Nunavut is almost one-fifth of Canada’s total landmass.The rich land, vast sea, and sweeping sky are represented in the colors of the flag. The flag is divided by the traditional inukshuk and the blue star depicts the North Star. Nunavut residents take great pride in their territory’s accomplishments and celebrate their unique culture and the importance of preserving it on Nunavut Day.

Nunavut Day timeline

Northwest Territories Established

The Northwest Territories cover huge amounts of many of the western providences of Canada —including what is now known as Nunavut.

Land Claim Negotiations Begin

The Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami enter in to land claim negotiations with the Canadian government, which sets down the framework for Nunavut seceding from the Northwest Territory.

July 9, 1993
Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Established

This agreement gives the Inuit some portions of the Northwest Territory that were considered separate from the rest.

April 1, 1999
Nunavut Act Passed

Nunavut becomes its own, completely distinct territory.

Celebration Day Switched

Originally celebrated on April 1, 1999, Nunavut Day switches to July 9.


Nunavut Day is a federal holiday, so employees mostly have the day off from work. Celebrations are iconic with speeches by local leaders, communal meals, traditional dances, barbecues, games, history presentations and the future of the province, and more.10 young aspirants are awarded Nunavut Day Cultural and Academic grants, with the winners selected on the basis of their promotion and preservation of the Inuit culture. The grants are also awarded to students who wish to pursue post-secondary academic programs.

Nunavut Day FAQs

Is Nunavut Day a statutory holiday?

Nunavut Day is a statutory holiday where employees get a day off from work. 

What was Nunavut before 1999?

Before 1999, Nunavut was part of Canada’s Northwest Territories. 

Are there cars in Nunavut?

Approximately 4,000 vehicles are registered in the territory of Nunavut. Most of them are heavy-duty vehicles for the transportation of large goods. 

How to Observe Nunavut Day

  1. Plan a trip to Nunavut

    Nunavut is a great place to visit for adventure seekers and lovers of cold climates. Plus, there's a good chance none of your family and friends have gone, so you'll probably score some bragging rights. Getting to Nunavut can be a little tricky, so make sure to thoroughly research all of your options before making any travel reservations.

  2. Eat traditional Inuit food

    For the most part, Inuits have primarily feasted upon meat that they have been able to score while hunting. That means a traditional food that is widely eaten throughout Nunavut on July 9 is muskox burgers. If you can't find any muskox meat where you live, feel free to improvise!

  3. Learn about arctic survival skills

    Even if you're not planning to travel to the arctic anytime soon, it's still not a bad idea to brush up on some basic survival skills. There are some fun books and videos to watch that will help you learn what to do if you ever find yourself in a less than desirable, freezing, location. After learning these skills, you'll know exactly what to do if a polar bear should ever cross your path.

5 Amazing Facts About Nunavut

  1. One-fifth of Canada’s total land

    Nunavut makes up 1/5th of Canada’s total landmass.

  2. Four common languages

    The most common languages spoken in Nunavut are Inuinnaqtun, Inuktitut, English, and French.

  3. Tim Hortons’ steepest location

    Tim Hortons’ Nunavut location is its most Northern branch.

  4. The purple saxifrage is the provincial flower

    Nunavut’s provincial flower is the purple saxifrage.

  5. Home to the second-highest tide

    The capital city, Iqaluit, has the second-highest tide in Canada.

Why Nunavut Day is Important

  1. Many people don't have to go into work

    Nunavut Day is recognized as a public holiday that's taken very seriously by citizens of the region. Though federal employees don't get the day off work, many people get to stay home as they celebrate the establishment of their great land!

  2. It celebrates an area that doesn't get a lot of recognition

    Unless you're a resident of the territory, Nunavut doesn't get brought up in your everyday conversation. Nunavut Day is a great reason to brush up on your Canadian geography and research a little bit into the not-so-well-known territory.

  3. Nunavut is home to many Inuits

    Inuits are indigenous people who have lived in cold, arctic climates for thousands of years. While Nunavut may not be on the top of the list of most peoples' travel lists, having a formally recognized territory is a big deal to the native Inuit population of the region.

Nunavut Day dates

Year Date Day
2023 July 9 Sunday
2024 July 9 Tuesday
2025 July 9 Wednesday
2026 July 9 Thursday
2027 July 9 Friday