Ulukhaktok votes to stay with the NWT

In 1981 the 300 people living in Ulukhaktok Northwest Territories (called Holman or Holman Island at the time) faced a difficult decision. The almost entirely Inuit population had to decide if they wanted to stay in NWT or be included in the developing negotiations to create the territory of Nunavut as part of the Nunavut Land Claims agreement. The community exists on traditional Kangiryuarmiut land on the west coast of Victoria Island, sharing the Inuinnaqtun language with the communities of Kugluktuk to the south and Cambridge Bay to the southeast.

The challenge for the people who live in Ulukhaktok was that the community participated in the Inuvialuit land claim negotiations. At the same time, the first vote for creating a new territory occurred in 1982. Support was high in the communities east of Ulukhaktok, but only 56% voted in favour of the division. The next vote was on the boundaries, and the people of Ulukhaktok voted on which side of the line they wanted to be on. The vote was tied and held again, with a slight majority voting to stay in the NWT and remain within the Inuvialuit land claim.

Cambridge Bay and Kugluktuk, supported by their MLAs Kane Tologanak and Red Pederson, voted ‘yes’ to be included in the Nunavut Land Claim. The three Inuinnaqtun communities and Victoria Island were now split in a negotiated process based on traditional community land use and family hunting areas.