March 1, 2019
Welcome to Up Here's new weekly newsletter! Every Friday we collect all the best Northern news and stories from the past seven days for your reading enjoyment. This week, we've got strip clubs, ice caves, horror movies, and polar bears—so many polar bears. Let's dive right in...


The March issue of Up Here is on newsstands now and out to subscribers. Inside we profile several of the North's smallest communities, look at one Yukon town's battle with the United States' government to protect the Porcupine caribou herd and showcase the winners of our annual Up Here photo contest—including our sleepy little cover model up above. Photographer Natalie Gillis snapped the bear cub catching a snooze on the Eclipse Sound between Baffin and Bylot islands.

There are also some big changes happening in-office with the Up Here team. Managing editor Herb Mathisen and editor Elaine Anselmi have moved on and we've been joined here in Yellowknife by me—Jacob Boon—another east-coast transplant moving North for work. I'm formerly city editor with The Coast alt-weekly in Halifax (which is actually a regional municipality, not a city), and I'll be writing these newsletters every week. Stay tuned because there are even more exciting changes we'll be announcing next month.

As always, thanks for reading,
Jacob Boon



Kivalliq communities along Hudson Bay’s western coast are looking for a better connection. Ottawa has responded with $1.6 million towards a feasibility study for a hydroelectric and fibre-optic network linking the Nunavut region with Manitoba. The Kivalliq Inuit Association and partner Anbaric Development will put an additional $818,000 towards the study, which could take at least two years to complete. (Nunatsiaq)

It was International Polar Bear Day earlier this week. The online campaign aims to draw attention to the ecological changes threatening these majestic animals. Find out ways you can help the polar bears right here. Then click through to catch up on some past Up Here polar bear stories, like this Q&A with researcher Ian Stirling and the “myth of the Arctic man-eater.”

In related news, Nunavut hunters want to know whether they'll be paid for killing nuisance polar bears. The territory's wildlife act says hunters who shoot bears to protect people or property are eligible for payment, but kills have to be ruled on by the local wildlife officer. Only some communities don't have a wildlife officer, making the likelihood of payment nil. Paul Quassa, MLA, says the rules need updating as bear sightings are on the rise. (Nunatsiaq)

The real story at last weekend's Fort Good Hope/Colville Lake hand games tournament was the number of players under 30. Colville Lake has seen an increasing number of young people taking up hand games over the past several years, reports CBC. “Youth are now gaining enough experience that they can seriously compete for some of the tournament’s biggest prizes.” (CBC)

The National Indigenous Economic Development Board is recommending the government regulate the buying and selling of country foods as a solution to ridiculously high grocery prices across the North. “Caribou and char are often bought and sold informally through social media,” writes the Canadian Press. “The report suggests that if those sales were regulated, institutions such as hospitals and schools could use the food.” (Canadian Press)

Speaking of food, Shanthi’s restaurant has closed after more than a decade at the Whitehorse International Airport. The territory will spend the next several months renovating the space—for the first time since 1985—in hopes of having a new restaurant ready for the fall. Food and beverage options for Yukon travellers in the interim will be limited to the gift shop, vending machines, and nearby hotel restaurants. (Yukon)

Strip clubs from coast to coast are shutting their doors, but the owners of the legendary Harley's Hard Rock Saloon in Yellowknife are putting their money towards some ambitious expansion plans. Katie Toth at CBC gets the bare facts on the renovations from business owner Sara Murphy. (CBC)

Visitors to an ice cave near Haines Junction narrowly escaped catastrophe. Paul Inglis tells the harrowing story of watching “a whole bunch” of ice break from the cave’s entrance, almost crushing several visitors. “Something of a local secret,” the ice cave has become a minor tourist attraction. But the Yukon Geological Survey warns the whole thing is naturally unstable and likely to collapse in a few years. (CBC)


The seventh annual Dead North film festival thrills and chills this weekend in Yellowknife at the Capitol Theatre, once again showcasing original horror, sci-fi, fantasy, and genre shorts written, shot, and edited by Northern filmmakers. This year’s program has 40 finished films—half of them directed by women—and for the first time, movies from all three territories. Tickets and program details here

Elsewhere in Yellowknife, the castle is ready to open! This weekend kicks off the 24th annual Snowking’s Winter Festival—a month of events for the whole family and musical performances by Carmen Braden, Megan Nash, and many more. Come on down to Great Slave Lake this Saturday at noon for the official cutting of the Snow Castle door by the Snow King himself.

If you’re looking for more Northern activities, editor Jessica Davey-Quantick has assembled a year’s worth of events to try over the next 12 months, including outhouse racing, float plane festivals and even a Christmas Eve candy drop. 


Two Brewers in the Yukon landed four medals at the Canadian Whisky Awards this past month, including best single malt. Not bad considering the distillery was only founded a decade ago. Brewing partners Bob Baxter and Alan Hansen didn’t even know how their whiskey would taste until the first barrel was opened in 2016. Check out a profile of the company in last spring’s UHB. (Yukon News)

Gjoa Haven has high hopes for a commercial Arctic char fishery, but the Kitikmeot community needs the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to update its 20-year-old quotas first. Gjoa Haven is on its fifth and final year of an exploratory commercial fishing license and results have been promising—netting some 3,000 kilograms annually. (Nunavut News)

ARCTIC TRIVIA: The true identity of this fugitive remains a mystery, but 87 years ago this week he met his end in a shootout at Eagle River, Yukon. What name is he more famously known by? (email your answer to


Alaska’s already got a leg up on regulating country food. Changes in federal rules have allowed hospital like the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage to start serving menu items such as harbour seal soup, caribou, seaweed, wild berries, moose and herring eggs. “Servers say elders, many of who are away from their villages for medical treatment, frequently become emotional when they eat it.” (CBC)

The world’s first hybrid cruise ship completed sea trials through Norway’s fjords this month. The MS Roald Amundsen has an onboard hybrid power system that utilizes electric thrusters to reduce fuel burn and CO2 emissions by 20 percent. Cruise ships, it's worth noting, can emit as much particulate matter every day as a million cars. The Armundsen’s maiden season this spring will include the Norwegian coast and Greenland before travelling the Northwest Passage. (Various)

At the farthest edge of Alaska, military radar stations are being threatened by climate change. National Public Radio takes a visit up to the isolated station at Tin City to survey the damage. The United States military is throwing money at the problem, including a $47-million seawall project to protect one Alaskan station where waves regularly wash over the airstrip. A 2014 report found radar installations up North are already seeing erosion impacts not expected until 2040. (NPR)

Finally, we turn to photographer Matthieu Stern, who had a dream to make a working camera lens out of ice. After six months of research and a trip to the glaciers of Iceland, Stern’s dream became a reality. The results aren’t crystal clear, but still pretty incredible considering this light is being focused by a ground-down piece of ice. (Matthieu Stern)


Take a trip back in time on a geological paddling trip searching for the origins of life on the Coppermine River. Learning to manage—and appreciate—the unexpected as a Northern tour guide. A lot to mourn; the Yukon loses its most popular unofficial campsite—Walmart’s parking lot. Plus, what's so great about fishing in the North? Plenty, it turns out.
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