May 1, 2020

Ransomware infects NWT’s power utility and COVID arrives in Nunavut. Plus, Yellowknife’s salvage culture heads online, walrus trafficking in Anchorage, and examining ptarmigan immune systems. All in this week’s Up Here newsletter.

David Kakuktinniq spotted these umingmak (muskox) between Rankin Inlet and Baker Lake. (via Twitter)


One of the ways we're keeping busy during the pandemic over at Up Here is by scanning and uploading old back issues for archival purposes. And it turns out we're actually missing a few past editions from the last 36 years. If you are an Up Here subscriber and have a copy of any of the following issues that you'd be willing to part with, please get in touch. We're on the hunt for: September 2005; March/April 2003; September 2002; September 2001; October 2000; October 1999; February 1994; June/July 1992.

Thanks for reading,
Jacob Boon 


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Nunavut has its first confirmed case of COVID-19. A resident in Pond Inlet tested positive this week. Previously, the territory was the only jurisdiction in Canada with no active cases. Thirteen swabs taken from those who had contact with patient zero have all come back negative, so that's a relief. (Various)

The government of Nunavut also announced what criteria will need to be met before its COVID restrictions will be lifted, including in-territory diagnostic capacity, no active cases in Nunavut and “significant” indication that COVID-19 rates in other jurisdictions are decreasing. (

The territory also announced that as of May 7, Nunavut residents returning to the territory will need to pay for their own 14-day isolation, at a cost of $2,100 for a single Nunavummiut and $1,050 for each additional family member. Medical travel is excluded from the plan. (
Meanwhile, the GNWT has unveiled its broad stroke economic and social recovery plan post-COVID, which includes three “R’s” (response, recovery, and resiliency) but not a lot of specifics on how money will be spent. “I’m concerned that this presentation has zero dollars attached to it,” said Yellowknife North MLA Rylund Johnson. (

Elsewhere, the territorial government has made available COVID-19 safety information sheets in all 11 official languages: Sahtugotine, Tłı̨chǫ, Inuvialuktun, Inuktitut, Innuinaqtun, Gwich’in, French, Dëne Sųłıné, English, Dene Zhatié, and Cree. (

With COVID keeping diners at home, Arctic char originally intended for Winnipeg restaurants is instead being donated by fishers to local Inuit. (

In other good news, Northern News Services Ltd. has started printing some of its newspapers again, after having shuttered production a month ago over COVID-19 concerns. (

The pandemic also forced the closure of Yellowknife’s dump last month, leaving salvagers without their beloved 
Ykea. But two Yellowknifers took to the internet and launched a Salvagers Unite Facebook group dedicated to giving away and trading unused items. It’s so far attracted 2,600 users. (Cabin Radio)

Releasing herds of animals into the Arctic could help tackle climate change, say researchers, who argue for repopulating the tundra with horses, bison and reindeer. The animals keep the ground cool by dispersing snow and compressing soils, which scientists argue cut the current predicted permafrost temperature increases down by half. (
Congrats to the winners of the Yukon’s First Light Image Festival, including this shot from Zoe Walker that took home second place. Check out all the stunning photos on the festival’s website.
The NWT Power Corporation suffered a ransomware attack this week which forced the utility to shut down its IT services. This comes after the government of Nunavut's computer system was attacked by a similar, though different, ransomware infection late last year. (Cabin Radio)

Destination Canada has unleashed
20 virtual backgrounds taken from across the country that work-from-homers can use on their next Zoom meeting. “One of my favourites is Aurora Village in Yellowknife,” says Fiona Tapp, travel writer for Forbes. Also included is Baffin Island, Nunavut, and Eagle Plains, Yukon. (Forbes)

Introducing Nipaturuq, a magazine for Inuvialuit youth created by an entrepreneurial pair of teenage co-editors. (CBC)

Essential workers include nurses and doctors, grocery store clerks, truck drivers and… reality TV stars? Parker Schnabel, star of Discovery Channel’s Gold Rush has crossed over the Canadian border and is now quarantining in the Yukon for 14 days before heading out to his gold claim. It's unconfirmed whether the show’s production team will be able to fly in and join him to film season 11. (
TV Shows Ace)

Markoosie Patsauq, the man considered to be the first Inuit novelist, died last week at his home in Inukjuak, just months before his classic Harpoon of the Hunter was to be reissued in a new scholarly edition. Bob Weber has a lovely obituary at the link. (
Globe and Mail)

A group of Yukon chefs banded together to create weekly meals for Whitehorse’s food bank, dropping off 250 meals a week for those in need. “I like to call us the culinary version of the Avengers,” Wayfarer Oyster House chef Brian Ng says. “We’re all just banding together to cook some food for people who need it.” (
Yukon News)

Nunavik’s Raglan nickel mine is reopening, despite the strong objections of the Makivik Corporation, which represents Nunavik Inuit. Makivik president Charlie Watt says the company has contacted the Quebec government numerous times about various issues related to the pandemic, and “they have not responded… not even an acknowledgement of receipt.” (Nunatsiaq)

When oil and gas exploration began to threaten Inuit harvesting in the 1970s and ‘80s, the federal government responded with a new environmental assessment process that, ultimately, “helped create the conditions for Inuit to consent to oil extraction” by imposing a process of concessions and compromises. (
The Canadian Geographer)

Researchers have found ptarmigans weaken their own immune systems during Arctic winters to save energy in the cold, dark polar night. The birds boost their immunity back up come springtime, when there's more food and energy to spare. (
Science Times)
A Russian paratrooper jumps from an Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft, 10 kilometres over the Franz Josef Land Archipelago. (Courtesy Russian Defence Ministry)


Watch this: Russian paratroopers jumping out of an airplane 10,000 feet above an Arctic base. The jump was a successful test of new military equipment designed for extreme cold. (The Barents Observers)

The United States is giving cash to Greenland to block China. Welcome to Arctic geopolitics 2020. (
The Times)

Coronavirus cases continue to rise at northern Russia's oil and gas project sites. (
Hellenic Shipping News)

Meanwhile, officials in Murmansk will begin attaching electronic ankle bracelets to infected COVID patients to ensure they don’t leave their homes. (
Russia Today)

The owner of a downtown Anchorage, Alaska art gallery has been charged with trafficking walrus tusks. Walter Earl, who has sold antiques, jewelry and Indigenous art for over 30 years, now faces five years of jail time and $250,000 in fines. (
Associated Press)
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