October 4, 2019
Shocking election results! Unified orthographies! Disappearing sandpits! Nuclear otters! All in this week’s Up Here newsletter.

A black fox stands out in the white snow. It's not yet winter in Yellowknife (actually it was quite mild this week) but the cold and snow is coming soon enough.


Well, we had an election in the NWT. The results were certainly dramatic: Razor-thin margins. Mandatory recounts. A historic number of women elected as MLAs. And a number of longterm politicians toppled. The territory also has what appears to be the first father-son MLA duo. That's pretty cool.

Now that we've got the results, it would be a good time for you to go vote in our online poll about which of the front-runners you’d like to see become the
Northwest Territories' next premier. After all, it’s the only vote the public will have in the decision.

As always, thanks for reading,
Jacob Boon 

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Before last week, Canada’s 47,000 Inuit spoke five different dialects using nine writing systems (three in syllabics). And, well, they still do. But now there's also a 
common writing system established for Inuktut. Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami’s board of directors adopted the new system, Inuktut Qaliujaaqpait, during a board meeting in Rankin Inlet last week. It’s the first unified orthography since Inuktut writing systems were introduced in the 1700s by Christian missionaries.

“Our current writing systems were introduced through the process of colonization. The unified Inuktut writing system will be a writing system created by Inuit for Inuit in Canada,” said
ITK president Natan Obed.

While there are many similarities between the regional dialects, the current setup naturally presented many challenges in translating government, literature, and educational material. The new system will use the
Roman alphabet over syllabics—though regions can still use syllabics and other writing systems as desired—and is designed to work for all pronunciations across Inuit Nunangat. (Various)

BreakOut West is rocking Whitehorse this week. The western music industry festival—which hasn't been to Whitehorse since 2011—features over 100 performances and industry events. Included in that schedule is the Western Canadian Music Awards, which last night bestowed Yellowknife’s Carmen Braden its award for Classical Composer of the Year (just in time for the release of her second studio album.) Nunavut’s Northern Haze took home Indigenous Artist of the Year, beating four other nominees, including NWT’s Digawolf. (Various)

After 11,000 years, Yellowknife’s sandpits are almost all used up. The sand from the natural silica deposit just outside the city has been excavated for decades to be used in road and construction projects. It's also what Yellowknife’s airport and golf course are built on. But the grains are almost gone. (CBC)

The conventional apple tree won’t grow in the far North. Most can’t survive in permafrost-chilled soils. But bit by bit, grafting hundreds of different varietals to dozens of rootstocks, John Lenart is growing ultra-hardy subarctic apple trees. He is the Johnny Appleseed of the North. (Up Here)

Be whoever you want to be and say whatever you want to say. That's the advice from Riit. The Nunavut singer’s long-awaited debut album, ataataga, is out now. (Nunavut News)

Last summer, a duo from the University of Calgary’s Arctic Institute of North America, discovered the wreckage of the Scottish vessel Nova Zembia—the first shipwrecked High Arctic whaling ship ever found. This summer, they went back to the Baffin Island wreckage and took photos. (Canadian Geographic)
What do you do when mountain skiing doesn’t get you high enough? Welcome, everyone, to the Alaska Wingsuit Project. (Explorer Web)


Finland wants to build a gigantic, 1-billion Christmas theme park, which will include a giant transparent dome, year-round artificial snowfall, gingerbread houses, a Christmas-tree shaped hotel and employment for 10,000 workers. It is ominously named the Republic of Santa Claus. (RCI)

“As nation states negotiate new national boundaries and rights to access resources, the North Pole reminds us that we live on a planet with limits. If we talk about going beyond the pole, it becomes a paradox, because you cannot go further than the North Pole...The North Pole, this placeless place, has been and remains integral to our understanding of our human condition and the way we are bonded to the surface of this planet.” This, from a new history of the Pole by Cambridge University geographer Michael Bravo. (High North News)

Somewhat related to the previous two items; an adventure company is opening an igloo hotel at the North Pole that will cost $100,000 per stay. (Business Insider)

Did you know? Biologists once captured and moved the sea otter population around Amchitka Island in the Aleutians because it was about to be the site of three underground nuclear bomb tests. There are more weird tales of raccoons, wild pigs, and other failed attempts to relocate wildlife in Alaska at the link. (Anchorage Daily News)

Climate change is set to doom humanity, sure, but in the short term, Arctic and Antarctic waters are actually set to increase in economic value as faster shipping routes and new fishing waters open up. But these “benefits” come with far more severe costs, says Oxford biology professor Alex Rogers. “Beware the business opportunists.” (The Conversation)
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