Nunavut is Canada's youngest territory, having only separated from the Northwest Territories in 1999. It encompasses a vast portion of northern Canada and includes the islands making up the Arctic Archipelago, as well as the magnetic North Pole. Despite its large size — it covers a fifth of the Canadian landmass — Nunavut is the least populated province in the nation. According to the Nunavut Bureau of Statistics, just 36,102 people lived in the province in January 2014, and Statistics Canada reports 84 percent of the population is Inuit. The territory also has one of the youngest populations in the country, with the median age in 2012 being 24.7.
Roughly half of Nunavut's population lives in the region of Baffin Island, and 7,250 people reside in the capital city of Iqaluit. Other communities of note include Rankin Inlet and Cambridge Bay. The official languages of Nunavut are English, French and the Inuit languages of Inuktitut and Innuinaqtun.
The sparsely populated region poses a challenge for Nunavut schools, but higher education opportunities do exist. Nunavut Arctic College offers five campuses at six locations, while other residents may use online schools or travel to other provinces to earn a degree.
Land-based economy supports growing territory
Nunavut offers unique economic opportunities to those with the right skills and education. It's northern, rural location makes it a prime spot for land-based industries such as mining and fishing. In addition, the territory also has a unique history and heritage which attracts visitors looking for adventure.
According to the Northern Development Ministers Forum, the following are among the key industries in Nunavut:
- Fishing and sealing
- Arts and crafts
Both the mining and construction industries should receive a boost from the development of the Mary River iron mine, which recently won approval from the Nunavut Impact Review Board and will require the construction of significant infrastructure. In addition, the mine may create new jobs for environmental professionals needed to monitor the project and help minimize any negative impacts on the surrounding area and wildlife.
Colleges in Nunavut
Nunavut Arctic College is the main source of higher education for residents in the territory. It offers degree, diploma and certificate programs as well as apprenticeship opportunities. Students can study at one of six locations.
- Nunavut Research Institute
The college also operates Community Learning Centres, which serve residents in 25 communities across the territory. Although Nunavut Arctic College did offer its first fully online course in 2011, students looking for online degree programs may need to look for an college located outside the territory for a bigger variety of distance learning options.
Another prominent education option for Nunavut students is Nunavut Sivuniksavut. This college program is offered in Ottawa and caters to young Inuit students from Nunavut.
Paying for school
Nunavut residents enrolled in a designated program at an approved postsecondary school may be eligible for government aid through the Financial Assistance for Nunavut Students program. The program may provide assistance in the following categories:
- Basic Grant
- Supplementary Grant
- Primary Loan
- Secondary Loan
- Needs Assessed Loan
- Distance/Online/Correspondence Course Reimbursements
Programs may include those in nursing, education, translation and environmental technology, among others. More information about the FANS program can be found on the Nunavut Department of Family Services website.
Other forms of financial aid for colleges in Nunavut typically include Canada Student Grants and loans, as well as private scholarships. Students can search for information on these programs online or contact specific Nunavut schools that interest them, which may be able to provide additional details.
"Arctic College Brings On-Line University Studies to Nunavut," Jamie Bell, Nunavut Arctic College, Feb. 14, 2011,
"Nunavut Sivuniksavut seeks to expand beyond the Nunavut," CBC News, May 30, 2014,
About Iqaluit: Demographics, City of Iqaluit,
Nunavut, Northern Development Ministers Forum,
"Nunavut body gives go-ahead to Mary River iron mine," Nunatsiaq News, May 29, 2014,
Nunavut Quick Facts, Nunavut Bureau of Statistics,
Nunavut FAQs, Department of Executive and Intergovernmental Affairs, Government of Nunavut,
"Financial Assistance for Nunavut Students (FANS)," Department of Family Services, Government of Nunavut,