April 26, 2019

This week we've got sealskin spacesuits, some big names in beads, q comes to Nunavut, and pollock gets sexy. 
Custom choker by Catherine Blackburn


It keeps snowing. There appears to be one dedicated day every week in Yellowknife set aside for a snowstorm, followed by six days of warm temperatures and sunshine. Not that I entirely mind the constant slush. Dammed catchbasins creating ponds of impassable brown water at every crosswalk honestly reminds me of home. 

Summer is on all of our minds in the office as we ramp up production to put together the June, July/August, and September issues of Up Here (along with the autumn edition of Up Here Business) over the next two months so that everyone can take some vacation time before the darkness returns. Oh, and did I mention a website overhaul? Yeah, we're going to be plenty busy for the next couple months. I'll keep you posted.

As always, thanks for reading,
Jacob Boon



The new issue of Vogue profiles several Indigenous beaders across North America who are modernizing their traditional craft. Among the group are Gwich’in designer Tania Larsson, and Dene artists Skye Paul and Catherine Blackburn (whose beadwork is pictured above). “Having not grown up in my community of Patuanak, I struggled with how I identified as a Dene person for a long time,” says Blackburn. “It was through having the tangible outlet of beading that connected me in ways I otherwise felt lost.” (Vogue)

Meanwhile, Melissa Attagutsiak and Victoria Kakuktinniq celebrated their return from Paris Fashion Week with a runway show in Iqaluit this week; made by Inuit for Inuit. It was a loud, excited, full house in attendance, reports APTN. “Iqaluit isn’t Paris, and it didn’t need to be, not on this night.” On the other end of the sewing needle, Inuvik model Willow Allen gets a profile from CBC after returning from a three-month modeling stint in Singapore for the likes of New Balance, Sony, Levi’s, and Prada. (CBC)

Big brand names and haute couture fashion are well and good, but I think what we all really want is a bespoke sealskin spacesuit. Jesse Tungilik has been working on just that for his artist-in-residence program at Concordia. The interdisciplinary artist, who lives in Iqaluit, is fabricating the spacesuit with the help of six Nunavik Sivunitsavut students from CEGEP John Abbott College. “One of the things that I really like about this spacesuit project is the idea of getting young Inuit to start imagining themselves in these sort of positions,” Tungilik says. “There’s a lot of value in that.” The suit will debut at an exhibition next week. (Concordia)

Staying on the arts beat for a second, it should be clear by now there’s no shortage of cool, young creatives making a name for themselves in the Northern artistic world. Add Kablusiak to that list. The Inuvialuk artist was longlisted this week for the 2019 Sobey Art Award. Born in Yellowknife, raised in Edmonton, Kablusiak's work looks at the “cultural diaspora, of being an urban Inuk and thinking of all the other urban Indigenous folks who maybe don't see themselves represented in mainstream media and are looking for something to relate to.” (CBC)

Climate change was shifting the Arctic’s primary colour from white to green, but now that’s becoming a more depressing shade of brown. Warming trends, reports Science News, are bringing more insects, extreme weather, and wildfires, wiping out plants across the tundra. (Science News)

One possible solution to that warmer weather shutting down the ice roads early might come from on high. Like, all the way up in space. Wired reports on Canadian research that shows satellites can peer through ice with radar to determine both thickness and quality. “The satellite imagery is so detailed that researchers could even see waves in the unfrozen water beneath the surface, created when 18-wheelers pass over the ice layer. That makes for cool imagery, but even cooler data.” See, waves weaken the ice’s tensile strength, so monitoring the intensity of that aquatic activity could help in future ice road maintenance. (Wired)

Strange man on rock intrigues Yellowknifers,” reads the headline. “Kids these days,” says strange man. (Cabin Radio)

My great unwritten sci-fi novel involves Russian psyops telekinetically shifting the Arctic, thereby driving Canada further south and sending the country’s population into a collective ennui because #WeNoLongerTheNorth. And now reality has gone and stolen my idea. Canada’s top geographer is warning the nation will face a “psychic blow” if the North Pole continues its magnetic migration to Russia. "We must do everything in our power to ensure that the geomagnetic North Pole remains Canadian,” John G. Geiger implores the naive public. We assume Canada will always have a North Pole to call its own. What fools we are. “Nothing is forever in the world of magnetism.” (Macleans)

No more excuses, says teacher and writer Therese Estacion: The NWT needs accessibility legislation. Estacion became an amputee in 2016 and quickly found life in Yellowknife difficult—if not impossible—to navigate. Businesses and buildings owners have no requirement, benchmarks or timelines when it comes to barrier-free access, and until the territory enacts such legislation “the rights of people with disabilities will continue to take a backseat.” (CBC)


Cleaning up Giant Mine will be a billion-dollar economic project, but the majority of that money is heading south. The latest report from the Giant Mine Oversight Board says only 20 per cent of the workers on contracted cleanup projects are Northerners, and only four per cent are Indigenous. The feds are responsible for cleaning up the 237,000 tonnes of toxic arsenic dust collected at the shuttered gold mine outside Yellowknife. (CBC)

Iqaluit’s airport is now in the hands of a Vancouver company. Concert Infrastructure Fund purchased a majority share last week in Arctic Infrastructure LP, the consortium that manages Nunavut’s biggest airport. The stake was acquired from UK real estate firm InfraRed Capital Partners. Who names these? Nunavut Airport Services, itself a subsidiary of the Winnipeg Airport Authority, will continue to run day-to-day operations. (Nunatsiaq News)


While you’re waiting in line for Avengers: Endgame tickets, consider skipping the three-hour CGI highlight reel for a slightly more grounded team-up story. The Grizzlies has finally opened in theatres nationwide, and to rave reviews. An “intimate and authentic” story says former CBC North reporter Kaila Jefferd-Moore, writing for my old outlet. (The Coast)

If you’re in Iqaluit this weekend be sure to check out
Nunavut Music Week. The CBC even sent Tom Power and the q team up North for a live broadcast. (Nunavut News)

Another year another rush to book NWT campsites for the summer. The first two days of online reservations saw over 1,600 bookings. That’s a 17 per cent increase from last year. Better
hurry if you want to claim your spot. (My Yellowknife Now)

Registration is now open for this year’s Arctic Development Expo. The Inuvik conference welcomes researchers, Indigenous leaders, government representatives, scientists, industry experts and those “with an interest in energy and resources who are dedicated to innovative solutions to our Northern realities.” (
Arctic Development Expo)


Monocle has put together a pair of documentaries on life aboard Finland’s fleet of Arctic icebreakers. What was once an isolating experience, cut off from family and friends, is now a relatively comfortable trip featuring wifi, personal TVs, and daily video chats back home. At the same time, notes blogger Jason Kottke, internet and TV access in each cabin results in less on-board socialization among the crew. “Extrapolating to society at large is left as an exercise to the viewer.” (Monocle)

A Russian billionaire has ordered what will be the first private icebreaking yacht. Oleg Tinkov will live on the $112.5-million vessel several weeks of the year. The rest of the time it will be rentable for private parties, at a price of several hundred thousand per week. Tinkov, the 79th richest person in Russia, made much of his cash from frozen food factories and the banking sector. Wikipedia delightfully notes that he maintains his own Facebook and Twitter accounts, where Tinkov's manner of communication is “considered provocative and often leads to meaningless disputes and mutual insults.” Billionaires, they’re just like us. (Moscow Times)

The special ingredient inside new gluten-free, high-protein noodles? Fish from Alaska! Humble pollock, to be exact. Long thought of as “trash fish” and disguised in sushi as imitation crab, pollock is getting a marketing makeover by Trident Seafoods who wants to make the Northern fish “sexy.” Good luck with that. (KTOO)


Special recognition this week for Alootook Ipellie, who was announced as one of two inductees this year into the Canadian Cartoonist Hall of Fame. Ipellie was a prolific writer, activist, and comic artist who produced satirical illustrations about Inuit life in Canada. He passed away in 2007. A retrospective of his work just recently came to the Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum in Iqaluit, containing over 100 illustrations drawn during an incredible career—including the above piece, titled “The Death of Nomadic Life, the Creeping Emergence of Civilization." (ComicsBeat)
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