October 25, 2019

In this week's newsletter we've got Inuit facial tattoos, polar bear paparazzi, diamond woes and Gulag uprisings. Plus, capturing carbon in whale carcasses.

Kids painting at the Alianait Arts Festival in Iqaluit back in 2017. (Up Here)


Not much news this week, but just to let you know, I'm assembling a list of northern freelancer writers and potential columnists for Up Here to work with in 2020. If that's you, or you know of anyone with the relevant magazine experience, don't be hesitant to reach out. 

As always, thanks for reading,
Jacob Boon 

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Well, the election’s over and one of the more interesting results from across the country was Nunavut’s repudiation of the Liberals. “From 2015 onwards, Justin Trudeau and other members of the Liberal government have showered Nunavut with announcements,” writes Jim Bell for
Nunatsiaq. “But in the end, the people of Nunavut said ‘no thanks.’” Instead, 25-year-old Mumilaaq Qaqqaq was elected for the NDP, becoming one of the youngest MPs in the country. Her hometown of Baker Lake celebrated with a parade Tuesday night.

CNN, of all places, has already taken notice of Qaqqaq for her traditional-inspired chin and cheek tattoos. The cable news network
published a feature on Inuit tattoos as part of its travel section. Fun fact: This 2014 Up Here story by Ashleigh Gaul on the history and revival of Inuit facial tattoos is still, each and every month, the most-read story on our website. (Various)

What’s stopping the growth of northern food production? Emelie Peacock reports back from the Opportunities North conference for Cabin Radio. “We seem to have this attitude that we can't produce it in the North and everything has to be trucked in.” Meanwhile, the Ka’g’gee Tu First Nation is looking to Brazil for inspiration on how to sustainably grow, hunt, and gather their food. (Various)

“Art was supposed to save Canada’s Inuit, writes Catherine Porter for the New York Times. But while Indigenous work is all the rage in the Canadian art world, “life in the North is as much a struggle as ever.” A poignant feature told with care. Kudos to the Times and Porter for this kind of work. (NY Times)

Brian Ng walked away from a job with the Yukon government this past summer to become head chef at the Wayfarer Oyster House. It appears to have been a smart move. He's just been named by the Globe and Mail as one of the country’s next top chefs. “We weren't really gunning for accolades; we just wanted to open up a cool little spot in Whitehorse.” (CBC)

Arctic soil is warming to the point where it releases more carbon in the winter than northern plants can absorb during the summer. “The research didn't measure methane, a greenhouse gas about 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide that is also released from soil.” Translation: Uh oh. (Canadian Press)
Dancing polar bears near Churchill, Manitoba. (via iStock)
Fat Bear Week is sadly over, but the polar bears of Wapusk National Park are ready for their closeup. The bears are surveilled by a series of cameras mounted on “tundra buggies” that roam around like some sort of robotic paparazzi. Catch the live feeds at the link. (Backpacker)

Living in shacks and under boats, houses filled to bursting, sick children and unsafe conditions: welcome to Nunavut’s billion-dollar housing problem (APTN)

Moody’s has lost confidence in Dominion Diamond’s ability to pay back a $550-million bond, as production winds down at the Ekati and Diavik mines where DD is a principal investor. The downgrade is a “significant” drop, according to analysts. “There's no plan in place to extend the mine life at a time when the debt is closer and closer to coming due.” (CBC)

Dene from all over the world gathered near Calgary this past week for a reunification event, hosted by the Tsuut’ina Nation. It's estimated there are over 750,000 people around the world who claim Dene heritage. (CBC)

A view of "downtown" Longyearbyen. (Photo by Bjørn Christian Tørrissen)


Nobody dies in Longyearbyen. They aren’t allowed. Bodies don’t decompose in the permafrost underneath the tiny Norwegian town. “Should anyone die there, the government of Svalbard requires that the body is flown or shipped to mainland Norway to be interred.” A short documentary at the link. (The Atlantic)

One whale is worth thousands of trees when it comes to capturing carbon. Whales accumulate great amounts of carbon in their bodies during their long lives, and—says research recently completed by marine biologists—when they die the bodies sink to the bottom of the ocean, sequestering an impressive average of 33 tons of CO2 for centuries. (IMF)

Remember the German icebreaker Polarstern, which is set to trap itself in Arctic sea ice for a year so that 100 scientists can study the environment and ice floe movement? Yeah, well, it's having a hard time finding ice thick enough for the project to begin. “This may be one of the last years we can do this kind of expedition.” (BBC)

Skolt Sami journalist Sara Wesslin has been named as one of BBC’s 100 women of the year. The Indigenous journalist successfully lobbied Finland to provide funding for Sami language teaching. Also on the BBC's list is Canadian water protector Autumn Peltier, Swedish filmmaker Erika Lust, climate change activist Greta Thunberg, and transgender Icelandic activist Owl Fisher. (BBC)

The three biggest uprisings in Gulag history: “For a whole month the captured camp became a kind of revolutionary republic. The rebels organized their own administration and self-defense units, armed with iron bars and Molotov cocktails, and even intelligence, counterintelligence, and propaganda divisions.” (Russia Beyond)
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