World Reports

Nunavut Culture: What Make It So Unique

Nunavut Culture: What Make It So Unique


How does the landscape influence Nunavut cultural practices?

Nunavut is the largest, northernmost, and newest territory of Canada, and its distinct culture reflects this long and varied history. The Inuit people of Nunavut represent more than 85% of the population, and their Ancient vision of culture and lifestyle has been retained despite considerable influence from the rest of Canada. This article explores the unique culture and traditions of Nunavut, including its social hierarchies and customs, and the role of the Arts in Inuit life.

Traditional Inuit Culture

The Inuit people of Nunavut are hunters of seal, whale, caribou, and other Arctic wildlife. Traditionally, their villages were small, semi-nomadic settlements where families were close and the only source of subsistence was the land. Children were taught traditional hunting, gathering and fishing skills, and viewed themselves as part of a larger family and community unit.

Nunavut’s culture values the role of the Elders; they are respected as the keepers of the traditional knowledge and culture of the community. Families and neighbours rely on the wisdom of the Elders when turbulent times and hard decisions arise.

Unanswered questions and disputes between individuals and between families have always been settled with the consensus of the community. Although Nunavut has adopted and adapted many of Canada’s western-style laws and judicial systems, the Inuit communities still value the resolve of problem-solving with the cooperation of all parties involved.

Nunavut Culture: What Make It So Unique
Nunavut Culture: What Make It So Unique

Traditional Social Hierarchy

Traditional Inuit society was a hierarchical one, with a certain structure based on the concept of kinship. The oldest male in the family, or the unlak, was responsible for all decisions related to the group. The qadi, or “quorum”, was a small group of respected members of the community that had the authority to make important decisions based on the consensus of its members.

The Inuit also believed in dual spiritual entities known as the Raven and the Fox. The Raven was associated with the supernatural and was the spirit of creativity, while the Fox was seen as a messenger of the spirit realm and protector of human resources. These divine entities were respected and either one could be called upon in times of need.

Traditional Arts and Music

The traditional Arts and Music of Nunavut is integral to its culture and its people. Music has been a part of traditional Inuit life since before contact with Europeans. The primary instruments used are drums, rattles, and sticks, as well as voice, and each song has its own meaning. The Inuit also practice storytelling, which is a profound part of their cultural heritage. Inuit stories often revolve around nature, animals, and the spiritual realm.

Traditional Inuit art includes soapstone and bone carving, stonecutting, printmaking, and design for clothing and parkas. These intricate designs are often meant to depict animals, spirits, and other forms of nature. Other unique forms of art include wall-hangings, masks, strung beads, and intricate stone engraving.

Frequently Asked Questions

Nunavut Culture: What Make It So Unique
Nunavut Culture: What Make It So Unique

What is the culture of Nunavut?

The culture of Nunavut is predominantly Inuit, which has been passed down through generations and centuries of keeping traditional knowledge, stories, and songs alive. This culture places strong value on the role of Elders and using the consensus of the community to solve disputes. It also includes traditional music, art, and hunting.

What is the traditional art of Nunavut?

The traditional art of Nunavut includes soapstone and bone carving, stonecutting, printmaking, design for clothing, wall-hangings, masks, strung beads, and intricate stone engraving.

What is the main religion of Nunavut?

The main religion of Nunavut is Christianity, as it was introduced with the arrival of settlers in Northern Canada. However, traditional Inuit beliefs also still play an important role in the culture.

What other languages are spoken in Nunavut?

In addition to English and French, Inuktitut is still widely spoken in Nunavut. Other languages include Inuinnaqtun, Inuvialuktun and Kivallirmiutut.


Nunavut’s culture is a unique blend of traditional Inuit beliefs and beliefs introduced by settlers. The importance placed on traditions, the respect for Elders, and the use of consensus in problem-solving all reflect the close-knit society of Nunavut. Its art and music are central to its culture and history, and, more importantly, to the identity of its people.






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