Landing and Settling in Nunavut

Last updated: 21 July 2023

Nunavut CV Page

Nunavut, is the largest and northernmost territory of Canada. 

Separated from the rest of the country by the Northwest Passage, Nunavut promises one-of-a-kind experiences in nature and wildlife spotting. Home to the Inuit people, the culture of Nunavut is deeply intertwined with nature and survival in its pronounced weather conditions. The territory's centuries-old history is seen in Inuit art, traditional music, and the practice of subsistence hunting.

Table of Contents


    This page is a comprehensive guide for newcomers settling in Nunavut—Canada’s youngest province. Read on to learn more about the province and why it might make a good home for you, including key information on the province’s weather, affordable housing, favourable tax rates, one-of-a kind transit systems, unique education system, rich and diverse culture, and inspiring natural beauty.

    What are the benefits of living in Nunavut?

    Living in Nunavut bring several benefits: vast, untouched wilderness, cultural richness, low crime rate, deep respect for education and an uncomplicated lifestyle. Nunavummiut people are well-regarded for their inviting and amicable demeanour, and the cost of living is considerably lower compared to many major Canadian cities. Furthermore, local communities maintain a strong sense of unity while welcoming newcomers with open arms.

    Cultural immersion opportunities are abundant in Nunavut, which is home to the Inuit people, known for their captivating traditions and history. Moreover, Nunavut is known for Inuit art forms like carving, printmaking, and throat singing. These cultural features help highlight the province’s unique cultural make-up, providing an experience unlike other provinces in Canada.

    The province also has a wide variety of employment opportunities across different sectors (including fishing and hunting, and resources and power industries), and the living standard is high, with affordable housing options. The province's low crime rate also ensures residents feel secure and safe.

    With the Arctic Ocean bordering most parts of Nunavut, those who appreciate marine biology and aquatic activities are in for a treat. Nature lovers can explore the vast tundra, ice sheets and Polar wildlife that the province is famous for.

    Education is highly respected in Nunavut, with emphasis on local culture and nature. Institutions like Nunavut Arctic College focus on community-based education that reflects the traditional knowledge, values, and priorities of the Nunavummiut people.

    Housing in Nunavut

    Housing can be a challenge in Nunavut, with the province having a history of lacking supply of homes and overcrowding within population centers. Be that as it may, the provincial government has undertaken several steps to correct the matter including tenant and home-buyer programs, and setting up affordable housing units.

    Notably there is only one city in Nunavut—Iqaluit—the province’s capital. All other population centers are technically classified as hamlets, shedding some light on why housing may have traditionally been in short supply. Housing in Iqualuit can be tricky, with prices recently surging in the wake of the pandemic. This being said, housing prices and rent in Nunavut as a whole remain significantly lower than metropolitan centers in Canada, maintaining the province’s cost-friendly appeal.

    A by-product of this situation, however, is extensive housing assistance given to a relatively small population, through comprehensive housing programs. These include the:

    • Public housing program;
    • Tenant to owner program;
    • Emergency repair program;
    • Home renovation program; and
    • A host of other homeownership programs.

    Commuting in Nunavut

    Commuting in Nunavut is different from much of the rest of the world due to its unique geographic characteristics. Public transit services, such as bus or rail service, are largely unavailable, with the Iqaluit Public Transit system ceasing operations in 2005.

    Taxis are a surprisingly common mode of transport in Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut. They charge per person and are reasonably affordable. The taxis also routinely pick up multiple passengers during a trip. Car rental is available but is rarely practical given the limited road infrastructure.

    Water taxis operate during the open water summer season, which lasts from June to September, connecting Nunavut’s coastal communities.

    However, due to the lack of road infrastructure connecting communities, air travel is the most frequently used mode of transportation to and from Nunavut, as well as between its distant communities. Major cities like Ottawa, Montréal, Winnipeg, Churchill, Edmonton, Calgary, and Yellowknife have regular flights to Nunavut. In the summer months, the province is also accessible by cruise ships.

    Ground transportation within communities and between nearby communities often includes more traditional methods such as snowmobiles and dogsleds.

    Employment in Nunavut

    Job prospects in Nunavut are diverse but impacted by geographical and economic factors. Jobs in the exploitation of mineral wealth are significant, with resources including iron and nonferrous ores, precious metals, diamonds, and petroleum and natural gas. There are challenges to this industry due to high production costs and transportation difficulties. Moreover, fishing and hunting activity provides jobs, and products like Turbot, shrimp, and Arctic char are commonly exported to southern markets in Canada and the United States. However, only a few natives continue the traditional activities of trapping small mammals, fishing, and hunting to supplement their food intake.

    The service sector offers a wide array of job opportunities. Government jobs are prominent, spanning across administration, health care, education, and welfare services. Notably, the public service sector is the largest employer in Nunavut, thus many job prospects would likely be governmental. However, the unemployment rate in Nunavut tends to be higher than the national Canadian average.

    Construction jobs exist in both public and private sectors, although often these roles are filled by migrant workers due to high wages. Tourism contributes to the job market in a small yet significant way by drawing in individuals interested in the area's unique culture and natural beauty.

    Considering salary, the minimum wage in Nunavut stands at $16 CAD per hour, which is higher than most of Canada's provinces.

    To learn more about finding and securing employment in Canada, visit our dedicated webpage here

    Healthcare in Nunavut

    Healthcare in Nunavut is administered through 22 community health centres, regional health centres in Rankin Inlet and Cambridge Bay, and the Qikiqtani General Hospital in Iqaluit. A public health unit is also located in Iqaluit. The Department of Health manages long-term care facilities in two communities.

    The Nunavut Health Care Plan, a product of the Canada Health Act, provides free healthcare coverage to residents with the Nunavut Health Care Card. This card helps cover the cost of medical services and in certain cases, can provide coverage outside the province. Non-residents, such as temporary employees or students, tourists, federal penitentiary inmates, or individuals without a Nunavut address on their student or employment visa are not eligible for this plan.

    Eligibility for the Nunavut Health Care Plan is primarily focused on residence and intention to stay in the territory. Individuals are eligible for the Health Care Plan if they can provide proofs of residency in Nunavut. This includes two copies of proof of residency and two copies of identification, which could be either a birth certificate, a valid passport, or immigration documents. Moreover, a valid employment ID, driver’s license, or previous proof of health care insurance is required.

    If an individual is moving to Nunavut from another province within Canada, they are required to provide an employment contract or another type of document that proves their intention to stay in the territory for an extended period. For non-Canadian citizens, valid immigration documents are necessary at the time of application.

    Minors, or individuals under 19 years of age, must have their parents or legal guardians sign the form to be eligible for the healthcare plan.

    Residents can apply for a Nunavut Health Card, which has a unique 9-digit personal health number that hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare providers use to verify provincial healthcare plan enrollment. Without this card, residents may be charged upfront for health services out of the territory.

    To apply for the Nunavut Health Care Plan, residents need to provide two copies of proof of residency, two copies of ID, and either an employment ID, driver’s license, or previous proof of health care insurance. The application can be done in person, online, or through the mail. If moving to Nunavut from within Canada, an employment contract or another form of proof demonstrating the intention to stay in Nunavut for an extended period may be required.

    To learn more about healthcare in Canada, visit our dedicated webpage here.

    Education in Nunavut

    K-12 Education

    Schooling in Nunavut begins at the age of five, and if a child is not already attending school by the age of six, parents are required to register them. This involves contacting the school directly and registering their children in the district in which they live.

    Education in the province is unique and heavily influenced by the region's Indigenous culture. It is organized around four key strands: Aulajaaqtut, Iqqaqqaukkaringniq, Nunavusiutit, and Uqausiliriniq.

    • Aulajaaqtut involves the teaching of health and physical education, focusing on wellness, safety, and understanding one's place in society. It covers areas such as physical, social, emotional, and cultural wellness, goal setting, volunteerism, safety, and survival.
    • Iqqaqqaukkaringniq focuses on career and technology studies, mathematics, and science. It is about understanding and improving our world, encouraging students to engage with mathematics, analytical and critical thinking, solution-seeking, innovation, technology, and practical arts.
    • Nunavusiutit covers entrepreneurship, Inuuuqatigiit, social studies, and tourism and is focused on understanding the heritage, culture, history, geography, environmental science, civics, economics, current events and world views of Nunavut and its connection with national, circumpolar and global issues.
    • Uqausiliriniq is about arts, English language arts, French as an additional language, and Inuktitut language arts. It emphasizes relationships in communication and language development, creative and artistic expression, and reflective and critical thinking.

    There is also a focus on preparing students for employment in industries such as public sector, mining, fishing, arts, tourism and small businesses and on increasing bilingualism in students, particularly in Inuktut (traditional language of the Inuit people), in order to preserve and promote this language.

    Instead of school boards, Nunavut has District Education Authorities, which oversee schooling in their given districts. These authorities manage the curriculum of over 40 schools across the province.

    Post-secondary Education

    The primary mode of secondary education in Nunavut is through the Nunavut Arctic College (NAC).

    NAC has three primary campuses located in Iqaluit, Cambridge Bay, and Rankin Inlet. Aside from these, it also operates through a network of 25 Community Learning Centres distributed across the Nunavut region. In addition to these campuses and centres, NAC also manages the Nunavut Research Institute housed in Iqaluit and the Nunavut Trades Training Centre located in Rankin Inlet.

    The college provides various services including university-level transfer, certificate, and diploma programs. It also caters to adult education and offers literacy programs, development programs for enhancement of skills, trades training, educational assessment, and counselling services.

    The responsibility of postsecondary education in the territory lies under the jurisdiction of the Department of Family Services, which has its headquarters in Iqaluit and regional offices stationed across Nunavut. The Minister responsible for Nunavut Arctic College provides oversight for the college.

    Weather in Nunavut

    The weather in Nunavut is characterised by variety and extremeness due to its vast size and geographical location. The seasons vary across regions, each bringing its own set of weather conditions and environmental changes. Nunavut can be cold, with average winter temperatures ranging broadly from -15°C to -50°C, depending on the region.

    The average temperature in Kugluktuk, the warmest community in Nunavut, can rise to 30°C in summer while winters can be extremely cold, varying between -15°C to -40°C. On the other hand, Grise Fiord, the coldest community in Nunavut, experiences summer temperatures slightly above 0°C (around 5°C) and winter temperatures that can drop as low as -50°C.

    Spring in Nunavut is fairly consistent across the territory with daytime highs between -20°C and -10°C. The lengthy spring days often experience strong sun reflection off the snow, which necessitates the use of sunblock despite the cold.

    About sunlight, communities to the north of the Arctic Circle experience extreme shifts in the pattern of daylight and darkness. In winter, the sun barely shows, and further north, the sun disappears for extended periods. Conversely, during summer, parts of Nunavut experience the Midnight Sun phenomenon, in which the sun does not set completely for up to four months, depending on the community. For instance, in the Nunavut capital of Iqaluit, the sun can shine for up to 21 hours during the summer solstice.

    Overall, Nunavut’s weather is characterised by long cold winters and short, cooler summers with significant temperature variations across its communities.

    For more information on how to dress appropriately for Canada’s weather, visit our dedicated webpage here.

    Emergency Services in Nunavut

    Like most other places in Canada, Nunavut does have emergency provisions for residents. Remember to always dial 911 in case of immediate medical or security emergency. Among the list of important contacts include:

    In addition, those living in Iqaluit can dial:

    • 867-979-4422 for emergency fire services; and
    • 867-979-5650 to contact fire services in case of non-emergencies.

    Newcomer Services in Nunavut

    Nunavut has a range of immigrant settlement services that are available to all newcomers who plan on settling in the province. Unlike other provinces where these services would be distributed by provincial and municipal authorities, and immigrant serving organisations; in Nunavut these services are offered by district authorities and immigrant serving organisations, due to the province’s large size and small population.

    These settlement services can aid with a variety of daily life skills, some of which include:

    • Language-focussed training;
    • Translation and interpretation services;
    • Conversation groups (French/English);
    • Online language courses;
    • Online specialist courses;
    • Networking activities;

    For a list of full government services, and the corresponding district authority or immigrant serving organisation, you can find the government’s webpage here.

    Note that eligibility for newcomer services may differ depending on your legal status in Canada, and who is providing the specific services. While most newcomer services are eligible only for permanent residents and some temporary residents, it is best to check with each individual provider on what specific eligibility criteria they use.

    Taxation in Nunavut

    Taxes in Nunavut range from 4% to 11.5% of income, with the combined provincial and federal tax rate falling between 19% and 44.5%. Like Alberta, Yukon, and Northwest Territories, Nunavut only charges the Goods and Services Tax (GST), and does not charge a Provincial Sales Tax (PST).

    In addition to basic income tax, the province also imposes a dedicated carbon, petroleum, and tobacco tax, similar to many other areas in Canada.

    Residents of Nunavut can avail specific tax credits, aimed at offsetting the high cost of living in the area, among other things. These include the Nunavut Cost of Living Tax Credit, allowing residents to claim a refundable tax credit of up to $1,200. Single parents earning an adjusted net income of over $60,000 can take advantage of the Cost-of-Living Supplement for Single Parents, a refundable tax credit. Additionally, if you've volunteered at least 200 hours of community service, you may qualify for the Volunteer Firefighters Tax Credit. And for post-secondary students, the Education and Textbook Tax Credits are available.

    For more information on filing your personal tax return in Canada, visit our dedicated webpage here.

    Things to Do in Nunavut

    Nunavut, features a range of leisure activities that have particular focus on the province’s nature, wildlife, and culture.

    You can immerse yourself in the richness of the native Inuit culture by participating in local festivals and events that feature traditional music, dance, games and food. You can also learn about Nunavut's history, art and culture at local museums, such as the Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum or by visiting historical landmarks like the Qaummaarviit Territorial Park.

    Outdoor lovers have a plethora of options. Hiking is a favourite activity in Nunavut and you can explore the Akshayuk Pass, a traditional Inuit travel corridor, which is now part of Auyuittuq National Park. Canoeing and kayaking are other popular activities that provide a great opportunity to explore the beautiful landscapes and observe wildlife, such as seals, muskoxen, and maybe even the mythical narwhal. Nunavut is also known for its spectacular Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) that can be seen between October and February. One of the best places to view this spectacle is at the Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park.

    Fishing enthusiasts can experience ice fishing in one of Nunavut's clean, clear rivers or lakes. Furthermore, for thrill-seekers, there's the opportunity to embark on multi-day sled dog trips or to try out snowmobiling.

    To those interested in history, the Qaummaarviit Territorial Park, just a short boat ride from Iqaluit, houses important archeological sites that date back to 1000 AD. Additionally, the annual Toonik Tyme Festival, celebrated in Iqaluit every April, is a great opportunity to experience Inuit music, traditional games, dog sledding, and snowmobile races.

    For your shopping needs, places like Iqaluit's Unikkaarvik Visitor Centre and Jessie Oonark Center in Baker Lake offer a variety of Inuit arts and crafts, soapstone carvings, and traditional clothing.

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