April 18, 2019

This week, Inuit actor Marika Sila enters the Twilight Zone, a legendary dog escapes to freedom, and polar bear couches are all the rage.


Early newsletter this week because of Good Friday. My partner and I were planning to spend the long weekend travelling to Fort Simpson as that seemed like a decent to-and-from distance to travel over three days. But apparently, it’s April. The ice road (bridge?) over the Liard River is down and the ferry’s not yet in service. I'm still getting used to this whole idea of there only being access to places some of the time. Anyway, suggestions of destinations or things to do this weekend within driving distance of Yellowknife are eagerly welcomed. 

As always, thanks for reading,
Jacob Boon



Dogs don’t break down like snow machines. One of their many qualities. On the land around Pond Inlet, Nunavut, a busted snow machine can put a hunter in a deadly situation. A good dog team can save your life. Mark Kelly spends some time with Owen Jaworenko as he assembles a team of canine heroes to hunt seals and polar bears out on the ice. (Up Here)

On the subject of dog labour, what was once a career in drug and bomb detection has become the hottest new competitive canine sport. Earlier this month the Whitehorse Woofers Club held its first formal nosework trials. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s a sniff-off. “It’s not the most exciting dog sport to watch,” practice organizer Carol Foster tells the Yukon News, “but the dogs love it, and the owners too.” (Yukon News)

The Legend scoffs at those other pups, labouring for their tyrant masters. The Legend fears no man, least of all the first ever official dog catcher in Fort Providence, who started rounding up mutts this week—including, briefly, The Legend. Fear not, as he is once again free. The Legend tears through fences towards liberty; sloughs off the collar of confinement. Carry on, comrade! (Cabin Radio)

Also on the run this week are some daredevil adventurers choosing to tackle the Chilkoot Trail in a single day. The 53-kilometre trip from Dyea, Alaska to Bennett Lake, Yukon was one of the most arduous treks of the Gold Rush. Hikers still traverse its winding route over several days. An athletic few tackle it all in a single day, “with a floatplane waiting to whisk them back to Whitehorse in time to enjoy a burger and a well-earned beer.” (Up Here)


Close to a million litres of raw sewage has been leaking into Frobisher Bay every day for the last two weeks. A blockage in Iqaluit’s sewage system has forced overflow into the bay so it doesn’t back up into people’s homes. Hunters, fishers, and recreational boaters who use the bay are, understandably, concerned. (CBC)

“The fate and ferocity of the North’s greatest predator has pitted the Inuit against southern scientists, leading to an extraordinary moment in a Nunavut court.” Aaron Hutchins finds out what it means “To kill a polar bear.” (Macleans)

We’ve already covered how climate change is erasing coastlines in Tuktoyaktuk, but now a new consultant report is predicting it could cost as much as $50 million to protect against further erosion. Getting that money from the federal government is going to be the real challenge, according to Mayor Merven Gruben. "Right now the Band-Aids are really worn out and busted,” he says. (CBC)

Could a new machine that pulls H2O from the air be the solution to drinking water problems in Northern communities? Probably not. Still, the Liard First Nation in the Yukon is testing out the atmospheric water generators, which gather air like a dehumidifier then purify it with UV lights. A Calgary-based non-profit bought two of the machines from China for $1,300 each. They require as much electricity as a refrigerator to operate, which Chief George Morgan admits may make the idea “cost-prohibitive.” (CBC)

Canadian Inuk actor Marika Sila enters The Twilight Zone this week. She stars in the fourth episode of CBS online revival of the classic sci-fi series, narrated in this incarnation by filmmaker Jordan Peele (Us; Get Out). Sila—who was born in Yellowknife and whose family is from Tuktoyaktuk—plays a police sergeant in Alaska dealing with a mysterious visitor in the town’s police station. (ADN)

C.H. (Punch) Dickins will take to the sky once again—at least for anyone sending airmail. The famous Northern pilot is one of five airmen celebrated on a new set of stamps from Canada Post. Among other endeavours, Dickins embarked on a 6,000-kilometre reconnaissance flight in 1928 from Baker Lake to Fort Smith. He was over unexplored terrain when his engine sputtered and died. Hear the pilot himself finish the story in this 1989 video documentary. (CBC)



Baffinland employees have ratified their first collective agreement. International Union of Operating Engineers manager Mike Gallagher says they'll provide the “quality representation” mine workers deserve. (Newswire)

Alexco Resource Corp. is thinking small when it comes to cleaning up its United Keno Hill Mine site. The company is using naturally occurring bacteria to help oxidize contaminants and speed up decontamination. The Yukon News, of course, compares the process to how yeasts leaven the territory’s beloved sourdough bread. (Yukon News)

The Dawson City Gold Show is set for May 17 and 18. The trade show draws exhibitors and visitors from the mining industry, while also celebrating the history of gold mining in the Yukon. Register at the link. (Dawson City)

Diavik wants to dump waste rock and toxic tailing slime into its used mine pits; a massive break from approved environmental plans. The company says it will monitor the pits for five years after closing to make sure the water above is OK before breaching surrounding dikes. Should the water test poorly, the dikes would have to stay up forever. (CBC)
@astristkruse shares these crocus flowers. “The first signs of spring" in the Yukon.


The entire North Pole season at the Russian-owned Barneo ice camp has been cancelled due to warming weather and political disruptions. The camp was originally set to open on April 1 but faced delays in completing its ice runway, then turmoil as Russian officials banned Ukrainian pilots and crews from flying in expeditions. Those hoping to get a selfie at the North Pole this year are now out $30,000. (High North News)

Swedish Television has been broadcasting live moose migration coverage. Some 22 cameras have captured over 400 hours of TV gold as the animals head to their summer grazing pastures. A perfect example of circumpolar slow television. (RCI)

Almost everything eaten on Longyearbyen in the Svalbard archipelago has to be imported from the Norwegian mainland. The cold weather's certainly a factor in that scarcity, but so are some pretty strict regulatory conditions, as chef Ben Vidmar has found out. Local authorities shut down his plan to produce eggs, for instance, because chickens are illegal. (Forbes)

Tangentially Northern news, as Carolyn Bennett, minister of Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, suggests the Edmonton Eskimos should follow McGill University’s lead and change their team name. The CFL team says it's committed to embarking on a process of consultation to determine whether a name change should be considered in the future. Can’t imagine Alberta's new government will be into the idea. (Various)

Cocooning furniture is having a moment, reports Town & Country, and for tactile comfort, nothing tops the Polar Bear sofa. No, not made from the Arctic bears, but designed in the late 1940s to evoke a polar bear’s round, soft shape. “Highly sought after today by tastemakers and collectors around the globe, Polar Bear sofas and pairs of chairs can command more than half a million dollars at auction or from a top dealer. Jennifer Aniston, Ellen DeGeneres, and Larry Gagosian have acquired pieces, as has Kanye West, who once tweeted that his Polar Bear sofa ‘is my favorite piece of furniture we own.’” (Town & Country)

 Hopefully, you’ve already read Cullen Crozier’s winning entry in this year’s Sally Manning Award for Indigenous Creative Non-Fiction. Up online now, you can also read the first runner-up, by Amber Lee Kolson. Reflections of a Northern Graveyard is a touching elegy to Kolson’s childhood in Yellowknife, the loss of her mother, and coming home again. (Up Here)
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