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Heraldry

 

Creation of the Coat of Arms
and Flag of Nunavut

The official symbols of Nunavut have been developed through a process guided and shaped at every stage by elders and leaders from the Territory. The main goals were to ensure that the symbols drew on the talents of artists and elders in Nunavut as much as possible, and to ensure that the public had an opportunity to contribute suggestions for colours and elements.

The group working on developing the symbols visited municipal leaders, elders, schools and artist cooperatives in Rankin Inlet, Baker Lake, Cape Dorset, Iqaluit and Pangnirtung early in the process. This allowed the Chief Herald of Canada to learn about art resources and traditional ways of life and also introduced the communities to the project.

ImageIn response to a cross-Canada call for design ideas, more than 800 submissions for the coat of arms and flag were received. A special selection committee of elders and artists analyzed the submissions and selected ten finalists for each symbol. Then, using the elements and colours from each category that best represented the character of Nunavut, they developed a series of five draft designs for the coat of arms and five for the flag.

To ensure that the animals selected for the coat of arms were drawn in as natural a manner as possible, the heraldic artist worked with Andrew Qappik, Inuit artist from Pangnirtung, to prepare the designs.

The final official versions of the coat of arms and flag were accepted by the Commission, and approved by the Governor General and Her Majesty The Queen.


Symbolism of the Arms and the Flag

Symbolism of the Arms
ImageThe dominant colours, blue and gold, symbolize the riches of the land, sea and sky.

In the base of the shield is an inuksuk. These stone monuments guide people on the land, and also mark sacred and other special places. The qulliq, an Inuit stone lamp, represents light and the warmth of family and the community.

Above this, the arc of five gold circles refers to the life giving properties of the sun arching above and below the horizon -- the sun doesn't set during the summer months, which is a unique part of the Nunavut year.

The star is the Niqirtsituk, the North Star -- the traditional guide for navigation. This star forever remains unchanged -- just like the leadership of the elders in the community.

In the crest, the iglu represents the traditional life of the people and the means of survival. It also symbolizes the assembled members of the Legislature meeting together for the good of Nunavut. The Royal Crown symbolizes public government for all the people of Nunavut and the equivalent status of Nunavut with other territories and provinces in Canadian Confederation.

The supporters, a tuktu (caribou) and qilalugaq tugaalik (narwhal), are land and sea animals that are part of the rich natural heritage of Nunavut and provide sustenance for people.

The compartment at the base is composed of land and sea, and features three important species of Arctic wild flowers.

The motto, in Inuktitut means "NUNAVUT OUR STRENGTH".

Symbolism of the Flag
Image The dominant colours, blue and gold, symbolize the riches of the land, sea and sky. Red is a reference to Canada.

The inuksuk - a stone monument - guides people on the land. Inuksuks also mark sacred and other special places.

The star is the Niqirtsituk, the North Star -- the traditional guide for navigation. This star forever remains unchanged -- just like the leadership of the elders in the community.


Related Information:
Speech on the Occasion of the Presentation of a Flag and Coat of Arms to Nunavut

Updated: 2009-04-30
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