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Inuit Nunangat land area and coastline

By February 3, 2023 No Comments

Land and coastline are integral to Inuit survival. Most Inuit Nunangat communities are located on the coast for transportation and for access to marine wildlife and plants including whales, seal, fish, shellfish and kelp. Being on the land is a core part of Inuit cultural practices, hunting and survival, art and music, knowledge transfer, and environmental stewardship.

In 2021, ITK decided to look closely at the land and coastline of Inuit Nunangat to see how much space we occupy within Canada. It’s more than we thought.

Inuit Nunangat includes the four Inuit land claim regions: the Inuvialuit Settlement Region in the western Arctic, Nunavut, Nunavik in northern Quebec, and Nunatsiavut in Labrador. In the past, we have said our homeland comprises roughly one third of Canada’s land area and two thirds of its coastline. But applying the Government of Canada’s map scale, and official geographic datasets, ITK researchers determined that Inuit Nunangat actually makes up about 40% of Canada’s land area and 72% of its coastline.

So what changed? The answer lies in the details. Consider part of the Nunatsiavut coastline at right, in low resolution 5M (green) and higher resolution 1M (black). At the 1M resolution – which is roughly equivalent to what Canada uses to calculate its coastline – offshore islands appear and our coastline gets more detailed, and longer.

So using Canada’s map scale, we have concluded:

Inuit Nunangat comprises roughly 40% of Canada’s land area and 72% of its coastline.

These figures were derived using the Government of Canada’s CANVEC series dataset and input from Inuit land claim organizations. For a detailed explanation, please refer to our methodology report:  Inuit Nunangat Coastline Length and Land Area Calculations.