March 29, 2019
This week, go to the movies with The Grizzlies, join Google Street View on a journey to Devon Island, and learn why Inuit moms are the coolest in Canada.


Big thanks to everyone's who's been subscribing to our newsletter enterprise. We surpassed 200 subscribers earlier this week. The goal now is 1,000 by the end of the year, or at least as close as we can get. So if you like what you're reading, consider spreading the word? 

A reminder as well that all new and renewing subscribers to the magazine will automatically be entered into our 2019 Arctic Adventure Sweepstakes, with the winner receiving a free cruise to the heart of the Arctic. Last year’s sweepstakes winner just contacted us this week to confirm their plane tickets for a summer trip to the floe edge.

“I’m reading everything about Baffin Island I can, and have got names of three friends (of friends) who live in Iqaluit and will help and advise us,” says winner Ingrid Kern. “This will be our ‘trip of a lifetime.’”  

As always, thanks for reading,
Jacob Boon



The early spring has brought with it plenty of visitors. Some to take in the North's gorgeous wilderness and culture. Others to practice their combat ops. Military personnel from Canada, France, Finland, Sweden, and Norway are taking a polar bear dip in Tuktoyaktuk this month to learn ice diving, as well as test new equipment in the chilly waters. They join 500 Armed Forces members training in the Arctic right now for a revamped Operation NanookFood Network Canada ‘celeb’ chef Michael Smith flew up to Iqaluit this week for a vaguely-worded “project site visit and exploration of a very interesting opportunity in the North.” Stay tuned, advises the PEI chef. A visiting Scottish documentary crew in Naujaat is retracing John Rae’s failed 1849 search for the Franklin expedition with the help of students and staff at Tuugaalik High School. Another documentary team—this one German—spent their final night up North in Inuvik drinking beer and learning to curl, which itself would make a pretty fun documentary. (Various)

Speaking of movies, much-lauded sports drama The Grizzlies is touring 33 remote Inuit and First Nation communities before its nationwide theatrical release in April. The film, based on the true story of a Kugluktuk youth lacrosse team who used sport to heal intergenerational trauma, premiered at TIFF last fall and earned filmmaker Miranda de Pencier an award from the Directors Guild of Canada. Film fanatics looking to learn more about Northern Canadian moviemaking should check out the new Oxford Handbook of Canadian Cinema’s chapters on “Canadian Indigenous Cinema” and “The Polarities and Hybridities of Arctic Cinemas.” Samples from each are up on Google Books. (The Labradorian)

Iqaluit played host this week to the Inuugatta Inuktuuqta Conference, focusing on issues of learning, revitalizing, and preserving Inuit language. This year’s conference comes 10 years since the Inuit Language Protection Act, and one year out from the target date set 20 years ago to have Nunavut's public service be Inuktut-speaking. The government’s revised goal is now 2040. Hey, by the way, did you know APTN has been airing Inuktitut-narrated episodes of Planet Earth? (Nunatsiqaq)

A lack of Inuktitut-speaking RCMP officers can have deadly consequences, as expressed by a Pond Inlet family who are now suing the Mounties over the death of their loved one. Kunuk Qamaniq was shot and killed by RCMP two years ago at the age of 20. His family says the confrontation between Qamaniq and police escalated because the RCMP failed to “invest in, find, recruit, and support RCMP officers who speak Inuktut and who have relevant Inuit community knowledge and experience.” (CBC)

Elsewhere in Pond Inlet, local kids are strapping on the skates and heading south to face-off with Mimico, Ontario players for a hockey exchange program. Requisite video of cute kids in hockey gear becoming friends at the link. The Mimico kids will head up to Pond Inlet next month as part of the sport/cultural exchange. The Ontario hockey program holds an annual equipment drive to send sticks, pads and other gear up to Northern teams. (CTV)

The calmest, coolest moms in the world? Inuit moms. Michaeleen Doucleff with National Public Radio recently traveled to Iqaluit for a story on how Inuit control their anger and came away with some powerful lessons in parenting. “At the center of these tools is a major tenet: Never shout at small children. ‘Yelling? There was no yelling at kids [in traditional Inuit culture],’ says Martha Tikivik, 83, who was born in an igloo and has six children. In fact, there's no reason for a parent to get angry at a small child, Tikivik says: ‘Anger has no purpose. It's not going to solve your problem. It only stops communication between the child and the mom.’” (NPR)

As if meteor explosions weren’t enough to worry about, toxic splashdowns of space debris may be poisoning Arctic waters. The International Maritime Organization is echoing concerns from Inuit angry over Russian rocket debris falling into Canadian waters. Since 2002 there have been at least 11 splashdowns in the Arctic of booster rockets fuelled by the highly toxic hydrazine. This comes as the satellite industry takes off, with more and more privately-owned low-orbiting contraptions planned to launch in coming years—with little public information on the trajectory of their debris. (Canadian Press)

Google Street View has come to Devon Island, despite the fact that the far north island doesn’t have any streets, or roads, or much of anything. In fact, the largest uninhabited island on the planet is home to the “most Mars-like environment” outside of, well, Mars. NASA even uses Devon as a training ground for future planned missions to the red planet. The Google project launched this week lets everyone tour around this pseudo-alien landscape from the comfort of their browser. (Canadian Geographic)

Mickey Hempler has kept drivers safe on a remote Northern winter road for two decades—but he won’t be around forever,” writes CBC’s John Last, ominously, in this long, lovely profile of the NWT’s highway maintenance supervisor and enduring character of the Mackenzie Valley. “Twice in the past few years, Hempler had a bad spill on ice and had to undergo shoulder surgery. He’s considered retirement, but says the time still hasn’t come. ‘When I hate my job, I’ll quit,’ he said.” (CBC)


Hay River is having trouble switching utility providers, and isn’t that always the way? The town is in a court battle with Northland over how much to pay for power poles, transformers, and other assets after voting to switch its electrical provider to NWT Power three years back. Meanwhile, the promised 20 per cent reduction in power bills for residents from the switch has been softened to “lower overall rates.” (CBC)

Canada's promise for high-speed broadband across the country won’t mean much if all the money is sucked up by big firms like Bell Canada, say smaller Northern telecoms. The federal government will spend $1.7 billion over the next 13 years to achieve 50 Mbps download speeds for all Canadians, wherever they live. “Really getting tired of all the focus going to download speeds,” tweets Iqaluit city councillor Kyle Sheppard in response. “Our biggest hindrance right now is the artificial monthly data caps imposed on us.” (Nunatsiaq)

As the Agnico Eagle Meadowbank mine in Nunavut nears the end of its life, some are questioning whether the mine’s promises of jobs and better economic opportunities for the remote region have lived up to the hype. Chris Douglas writes that Agnico Eagle has resulted in few—if any—lasting benefits to the Baker Lake region, including neither housing stock nor infrastructure. (Nunatsiaq)

Yukon’s environmental assessment board needs more information from Goldcorp about its proposed $2.4 billion Coffee mine, which only mines gold and sadly not coffee. Goldcorp submitted changes to its mining plan at the end of February that outline a proposed increase in mining and processing rates in early years, the use of conveyor belts instead of diesel trucks and location changes on both the work site and mining camps. “All part of the plan,” says Goldcorp director Roger Souckey. (Yukon News)


Melting Snow Castle be damned, the Long John Jamboree will forge ahead this weekend in Yellowknife, featuring ice carving, seal tasting, and back for the first time since 2012, the “Ugly Truck and Dog Contest.” Self-explanatory description, there. Musicians left venue-less from the Snowking’s cancellation earlier this week will instead play at the Jamboree's “Brr Garden,” including those bands originally scheduled for the Snowking’s “unfortunately-named” Great Meltdown show. (MyYellowknifeNow)

Speaking of live music and Yellowknife, Folk On The Rocks has announced some of this year’s acts, including Polaris Prize winner Lido Pimienta and Halifax’s own Wintersleep. You’re making me homesick, FOTR. Other performers include Snotty Nose Rez Kids, Leela Gilday, Riit, Yes We Mystic, PIT!, Soda Pony, the Sweeties, and Claude Cormier. Early bird passes are available now for the July 12-14 festival on the shores of Long Lake. (Exclaim!)


Brazil may become the first country in the southern hemisphere to enter Arctic geopolitics. The Brazilian Foreign Ministry is hoping to sign on for observer status with the Arctic Council, as it looks to become a more prominent player on the world stage. As one New York-based consultant for the government quote-unquote explains: “Brazil is big. That is why we need to be present in the Arctic.” Take that, Denmark. (High North News)

The musher whose dogs all quit midway through Alaska’s Iditarod race says he wasn’t working them too hard; they just had their minds elsewhere. The worker dogs stopped running in solidarity after Frenchman Nicolas Petit yelled at one of their comrades. But Petit says the spot of his defeat was the same location where the team got lost the year before in a blizzard. “They remember that we didn’t have a fun run.” (National Post)

China will use its first-ever atomic icebreaker as a test for future nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, says High North News. It will become the second country in the world—after Russia—to operate an atomic icebreaker (great band name), once it’s built. About two dozen Chinese vessels traveled Russia’s Northern sea route in the last five years, and more are expected as China looks to increase activity along the “Polar Silk Road.” (High North News)

Iceland’s WOW Airlines suddenly shut down this week, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded throughout Europe. The company sent out a travel alert on Thursday announcing it was ceasing operations and immediately canceling all flights. No refunds were offered. Lots of NSFW cursing at the link. (Vice News)

“A weeklong trip in Alaska was supposed to be an adventure. In an instant, it became the experience that defined us all,” writes Jon Mooallem. Devote some time to this exceptional chronicle of unlikely survival and rescue in the wake of disaster. (New York Times)
From @purplesaxifrage on Instagram: “Today, for the first time, I lit and tended a Qulliq. I also learned many technical words that I didn't even know they existed relating to qulliq. I am honoured and empowered.”
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