Although they are large in size, Canada’s three northern territories are more sparsely populated than the provinces and have a much higher proportion of Aboriginal people in their populations. Nunavut is the northernmost of Canada’s three territories and was formed in 1999. Nunavut’s land mass of 1.9 million square kilometers makes it the largest jurisdiction within Canada. It had a 2001 population of 26,745, or one person per 72 square kilometres. Eighty-five percent of Nunavut’s population are Inuit. Nunavut’s Inuit population is much younger than the population average across Canada, with a median age of 19.1 years. Nunavut is also one of the fastest growing regions in Canada, with a 2005/06 population growth rate of 2.5%.
Because of the relatively small populations, social workers in the territories tend to play a much more general role than their southern counterparts. In many communities, social workers and supervisors are responsible for providing not only child protection and family services, but also a wide range of other social services, including home support and care services, referrals to mental health and community corrections programs, and services for seniors and persons with disabilities.