Eight years later, in 1999, Nunavut would officially split from the Northwest Territories and establish itself as a separate Canadian territory. It was the first major change to Canada’s political map since the incorporation of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1949.
In 1999, the Royal Canadian Mint struck a $2 Proof gold coin to mark the creation of Nunavut. The coin’s reverse, designed by Germaine Arnaktauyok, features an Inuit drum dancer with a drum bearing an outlined map of the territory. A stone lamp is depicted inside the map to symbolize warmth, security and hope for the future. The coin has a weight of 11.4 grams and a 28-mm diameter.
In 2009, the Mint struck another 5,000 gold coins – these with a face value of $100 – to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Nunavut. A 14-karat Proof gold finish depicts a hunter performing a drum dance with past and future generations of his ancient culture symbolized by faces above.
The Mint struck another 14-karat gold coin in 2012 – this time with a limited mintage of only 500 – as part of its Provincial Coat of Arms series. This $300 gold coin weighs 60 grams and has a diameter of 50 mm.
Nunavut is the least populous area in Canada, but it’s also the largest, making for one of the most remote and sparsely settled regions of the world. A population of 31,906, most of who are Inuit, is spread over an area the size of Western Europe.