Centennial Flame updated to include Nunavut, 18 years after creation

It’s taken almost two decades, but Nunavut is finally getting a spot on the Centennial Flame monument.

The monument on Parliament Hill was built to celebrate Canada’s 100th birthday in 1967, long before the creation of Nunavut some 32 years later.

Today the government will unveil the updated monument during a ceremony beginning at noon ET and will reignite the flame. CBC News online will cover it live.

For weeks crews have been working to turn the dodecagon into a tridecagon to include Nunavut’s imagery. The flame was extinguished during construction.

The stone fountain, a popular photo stop for tourists, includes the shield, official flower and year of joining Confederation for each of the 10 provinces and, for now, two territories.

The territory’s shield includes an inukshuk, meant to guide people, and an Inuit stone lamp known as a qulliq. It is said to represent the light and warmth of the community. The crest is held by a caribou and narwhal, two animals important to the diet and culture in Nunavut.

The territory’s official flower, the purple saxifrage, will also find a spot on the monument.

The ceremony has been almost a year in the making. Officials with the Canadian Heritage Department, the lead on the project, informed the government of Nunavut on Dec. 22 last year about the plan.

The Senate, House of Commons and National Capital Commission were consulted, and Public Services and Procurement Canada was put in charge of getting the job done in Canada’s sesquicentennial year.

The Centennial Flame was ignited late on Dec. 31, 1966, by then-prime minister Lester B. Pearson. The flame draws on a continuous stream of natural gas from Western Canada that bubbles through water cascading underneath. The flame helps keep the moving water ice-free in winter.

The monument was supposed to be dismantled after a year, but proved so popular it was left in its place at one end of the walkway on the parliamentary lawn leading north to the Peace Tower.

The Centennial Flame will be updated to incorporate symbols of Nunavut.

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