November 27, 2020

Coming out as transgender in Inuvik, waiting for mail in Iqaluit, and the end of the Kuujjuaq Christmas Candy Drop. Plus, Iceland welcomes the rich, and Brooke Shields remembers her night in an igloo. All in this week’s Up Here newsletter.


Heavy into production on the January/February issue. Trying to get Christmas planning/shopping/mailing taken care of. There's a pandemic ongoing. Let's get to it...

Thanks for reading,
Jacob Boon 


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COVID cases are still rising in Nunavut, though there seems to be some relief as the week comes to a close. Yesterday there were no new cases reported. Today, only four. In support of those affected, this week Inuit around the world lit their qulliit—the traditional Inuit oil lamp—per the suggestion of radio personality and CBC Nunavut host John Eetuk. The above photo came to us from Hovak Johnston, who's originally from Umingmaktok but now lives in Amherst, Nova Scotia. We shared some more of our favourite pics 
on Twitter. (Nunatsiaq)

There are currently over 100 cases of the disease in Arviat alone, but thankfully for those affected, emergency food shipments and donations from Food Banks Canada are on their way. Jane George reports there have also been private gestures of help: “Jim Ramsay, owner of the Arctic Connection store, along with his helpers, cooked 150 meals of meat, potatoes and vegetables, which were distributed to people in need of a hot meal.” (

A reporter asks Nunavut’s chief public health officer a question. He starts to respond in English. The Inuk woman next to him loudly shouts, “Wait!” He forgot to wait for her translation. Kent Driscoll over at APTN profiles Nunavut translator Ooleepika Ikkidluak’s on-the-fly talents for keeping Inuit informed about COVID-19. (

Growing up in Inuvik, Draydon Allum had no resources to learn about being transgender. For a long time, he struggled with his mental health, fearing how his family and friends would respond to who he really was. But when the editors of Inuvik’s youth magazine Nipatur̂uq asked him for an interview, that was the “little push” he needed to stand up. “I wasn't expecting to get so much support from the town, because you don't hear about many transgender youth around here. But I received nothing but support, and everybody started using my name without a problem.” (

Canada Post is promising some long-overdue changes to mail service in Iqaluit, where due to staff shortages and parcel backlogs customers sometimes have to wait up to an hour in line to pick up their mail. (

Nick Murray, with CBC Nunavut, goes into some “extra mustard” about those promises that he couldn’t work into his news coverage, including how the biggest issue for employee retention is Canada Post doesn’t provide housing up north. And with union rates locked in for what people can be paid, most Iqaluit post office employees don’t last a year. (

Just how much of an impact has the pandemic had on the NWT’s tourism industry? A new government report on air traffic since 2019 offers some hints. Passengers moving through Yellowknife's airport in March (the most recent month in the report) dropped by 53.3 per cent. Smaller towns like Hay River and Fort Simpson saw their passenger rates drop by 70 to 99.5 per cent. (

Meanwhile, NWT Tourism just won grand prize at the first-ever “
Corporate Content Awards North America” for its Spectacular NWT multimedia campaign. The campaign, “Something Here Will Change You” was “packaged and delivered” by the territory’s marketing partner Outcrop Communications. (Various)
Last Christmas was the end of the Kuujjuaq Candy Drop. For 54 years, Inuk pilot Johnny May had got into his plane on December 25 and dropped sweets and other presents to residents of the small Nunavut community. Age, and some government red tape, finally put a stop to the tradition. Read more in our November/December issue (or click the link). (Up Here)

Inuk artist Katherine Takpannie has won the National Gallery of Canada’s prestigious New Generation Photography Award. “I want to bring to light [that] there are many different sides to being an Inuk, and as an urban Inuk, I want to share the knowledge that I have and the experiences that I have, and speak on that through my art,” she tells The Charlatan. Takpannie was one of Up Here’s “New Voices” from 2019 who contributed an article in our magazine about breaking the chain of generational trauma. (Various)

The continued lack of data on the impacts of Baffinland’s Mary River mine expansion is causing some increasing concerns from Inuit about how the iron mine’s proposal could affect the local environment. (
The Narwhal)

Elsewhere in Nunavut mining, new diamond and gold deposits have been found 155 kilometres southeast of Kugluktuk. (

Freeze-dried dinners, compass trays, 40-below tape, and the always important wristlets—just some of the items on this gift guide for polar explorers. But perhaps the most vital item for the serious polar explorer would be some polar training, which is offered by Northwinds in Iqaluit for just $4,200. (Explorers Web)

Of course, not everyone with an interest in the North wants to go explore the High Arctic. For those casual northern fans on your holiday shopping list, may we recommend this special Up Here gift guide from our latest issue? Featuring a range of potential presents from the cheap, but iconic (polar bear license plate), to the expensive and one-of-a-kind (an entire houseboat). (
Up Here)

Happy Black Friday to our American readers. For the holiday, Page Six had celebs reminisce about their most memorable Thanksgiving and Brooke Shields recalled spending the night in an igloo outside of Pond Inlet. “Inuit custom is to offer food, clothing and your woman. So I slept with a metal rod by my side.” …Yeeesh. Not a great look, Brooke. This was all from a stunt organized by Marie Claire back in 2000. Shields spent a night in an igloo—after Meg Ryan turned down the assignment—and also dropped some gossip about her breakup with Andre Agassi to the proprietors of Pond Inlet’s Cedar Lodge Bed & Breakfast. (Various)

Deep in a Whitehorse basement, two Yukon musicians are trying to engineer their own fuzz pedal. What would shoegaze be in the North? Muklukgaze? (

“She was the link that connected men up with the finer things in their past lives, made them go back to the cabins and write to mother. She had a host of friends and no enemies, not even professional ones, and will ever be remembered to Sourdoughs as ‘The Klondike Nightingale.’” Michael Gates shares the story of singer Beatrice Lorne. (
Yukon News)
The Langfonne ice patch has ancient tools, is thawing at alarming rates.


Researchers have found a “bonanza” of ancient hunting equipment in a melting Norwegian ice patch. “The cache is a striking example of the burgeoning field of ice patch archaeology, which is unfortunately growing as the planet melts down,” reports Gizmodo. “Global warming is shaping the future of humanity while also revealing the distant past.” (Gizmodo)

The new season of BBC’s The Invention Of… podcast delves into the creation of Scandinavia and was recorded just as the pandemic struck last winter, which provided its hosts with a unique opportunity to talk about how Sweden, Denmark, and Norway’s responses to COVID-19 echo their national characters. (

Even while Iceland’s borders remain technically shuttered to international travel, new rules will allow foreign nationals to stay in the country for six uninterrupted months without a visa—provided your annual income is over six figures. “I think the idea is to attract high-earning professionals from Silicon Valley or San Francisco to spend their money here, instead of there.” (

On that note, Tesla has opened the world’s northernmost supercharge station in Varangerbotn in northern Norway. “This makes it a lot easier to get around,” says Varangerbotn Tesla owner Finn Helge Lunde. Yeah, you’d expect. (
Barents Observer)
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