June 14, 2019
Looking back at Northern Pride. Whale blubber entrepreneurship, high-tech polar bear fur, and how a secret Cold War missile base changed everything we know about climate change. Plus, just how sterile is a sourtoe cocktail?
Climate researcher Steffen M. Olsen took this shot of a dog team helping retrieve oceanographic equipment from meltwater-covered sea ice in northern Greenland.


Summer suddenly arrived this week with thunderstorms and 20-plus weather. Also, tourists. Not anywhere near as many as the planeloads who arrive in the dead of winter, mind you. But there were still several people visiting the North, strolling around Yellowknife this week, who spotted our sidewalk sign and stopped into the office to buy a t-shirt, hat, or—for the first time today—a new Up Here hoodie! Perfect for keeping the mosquitos off your skin around the campfire. Available for only $39 at our online store

As always, thanks for reading.
Jacob Boon (not pictured below)



Happy Pride, Northern Canada! Celebrating last weekend were over 200 community members who marched in Inuvik’s second-ever Pride parade. Elsewhere across the North, Whitehorse enjoys 24 hours of “gaylight,” and Lori Fox says the Yukon doesn’t need to survey its residents about gay conversion therapy, “just ban it.” Also, from CBC, how a trans man from Ross River, Yukon had a big impact on the MMIWG inquiry.

Did you know Yellowknife and Whitehorse have
more same-sex female couples per capita than any other cities in Canada? The North has long been a “refuge for sexual minorities, especially for those seeking new lives and opportunities away from discrimination in other parts of Canada,” writes Jerald Sabin in a 2014 article for Northern Public Affairs. The NWT, for instance, was the first jurisdiction in Canada to protect gender identity and expression in its human rights code. The Yukon was one of the first to prohibit discrimination against sexual orientation. Related: “A Yukon quest for the gay Jack London.”

That doesn't mean the LGBT+ history of the North hasn't been complicated. For more,
check out the 2016 film Two Soft Things, Two Hard Things, which documents Iqaluit's efforts to restart a Pride festival. The title, by the way, comes from a literal translation of the Inuktitut terms for relationships between two women and two men.

Then, there's Everett Klippert. The last Canadian charged with being gay. Klippert was arrested in the now dissolved town of Pine Point, NWT in 1965 for arson. He was cleared of those charges but imprisoned for a different crime after freely and unashamedly admitting to RCMP he had sexual relationships with other men.

Hillary Bird covered some of Klippert’s life in a
CBC radio piece two years ago. She notes that psychiatrists who interviewed the “dangerous offender” reported he was a gentle man who showed no risk of causing anyone harm. But he would, if released, likely continue having sex with other men. That was enough. In 1966, famed northern judge J. H. Sissons sentenced Klippert to indefinite incarceration.

Liberal MP Bud Orange, representing the NWT, spoke in support of Klippert in a 1967 statement before the House of Commons. The prisoner's appeal was nevertheless denied by the Supreme Court of Canada. Weeks later, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau famously declared the state had no place in the bedroom of Canadians. The line had actually been coined in an earlier Globe and Mail column by Martin O'Malley, writing about Klippert's plight.

Canada decriminalized homosexuality in 1969. The day after, Stonewall rioted. It was the beginning of the Pride movement we have today. Klippert, however, would remain in prison until July 1971. He died in 1996. 

Pierre's son, who you might know as current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau,
promised two years ago to grant Klippert a full posthumous pardon. Last June, Bill C-66 received Royal Assent and made it possible for historical unjust convictions for consensual sexual activity between same-sex partners of legal age to be expunged. But there appears to be no other update on Klippert's record. Emailed questions to the Parole Board of Canada went unreturned. 
Everett Klippert after his release from prison. Photo via the Canadian Encyclopedia.

Nick Griffiths has finally gotten his toe in the door at Dawson City's Downtown Hotel. The rest of him should follow shortly. The British marine’s frostbitten digit arrived this week, completing a year-long adventure from English bedside to a Yukon whiskey glass. (Up Here)

The Guardian is having none of this, by the way. “I would worry about drinking it because I don’t know what pathogens might come from a severed toe,” says British doctor Ben Tschobotko. “I couldn’t imagine anything worse; it seems almost cannibalistic, touching a dead toe to your lips,” says Michael Boyle, the director of cocktail-makers the Mixology Brothers. The mixology industry, apparently, is “trying to move away from waste in cocktails, such as unnecessary garnishes.” (
The Guardian)

Literature in the Northwest Territories is at its most promising level in years, reports Sara Wicks for Cabin Radio. Fort Smith writer Richard Van Camp estimates there were 50 to 60 emerging, mid-career, and established writers taking part in this year’s Northwords writers’ festival. “I think we're living in a time where it's almost impossible, now, to keep up with who's publishing and who has a book deal.” In related news, Cabin Radio’s Sarah Pruys is now Inhabit Media's project manager and editor for the NWT. “We want to know what kind of books the territory needs and wants,” she tweets. “If you have ideas, let me know!” The company's co-founder, Louise Flaherty, just resigned her position as Nunavut’s Deputy Minister of Education this week to focus on her growing publishing business. (Various)

Kablusiak has made the shortlist for Canada’s $100,000 Sobey Art Award. It's the first time an Inuvialuk artist is nominated for the national prize, and the second ever Inuk artist shortlisted after Annie Pootoogook, who won in 2006. (Up Here)

Two orphaned baby moose have become fast friends since arriving at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve. “When the second one came along, he initially didn't even want to leave the crate, he was afraid,” veterinarian Maria Hallock tells CBC. “But the minute he saw the second calf, he jumped out of the crate…They can't be without one another anymore. They sleep together, they walk together, they do things together, they learn from one another, which is quite, quite awesome.” Don’t worry, plenty of photos and videos at the link. (CBC)
The two best friends. Submitted by Bailey White to CBC.

Women are bringing baskets back to Nunavut again, one blade of grass at a time. Editor Beth Brown threads together some memories from sewing superstars in the Belcher Islands community of Sanikiluaq. (Up Here)

Four hundred kilometres above, astronaut David Saint-Jacques keeps his own Inuit keepsake aboard the International Space Station—an engagement ring carved by Umiujaq artist Daniel Kumarluk. Both Saint-Jacques and his wife work in the Nunavik region as healthcare professionals. He also took a sealskin wrist band and a pair of miniature pualuk (mittens) into space with him, “for good luck.” (CBC)

Canadian Architect shines a spotlight on High Arctic design across Ikaluktutiak (Cambridge Bay), particularly the Canadian High Arctic Research Station. Architects EVOQ “focused on the notions of open, nested spaces, and building in spirals, as snow houses are traditionally assembled from rising rings of packed snow blocks” when designing CHARS. Inside, copper-coloured steel cladding shingles spiral upward in a nod to the Copper Inuit host community. “The design team was particularly drawn to how metallic copper surfaces catch the rich light of the low-angle Arctic sun, contrasting with the snow that surrounds them for nine months a year.” (Canadian Architect)

One particular week in 1969 saw Rolf Hougen open a retail store in Faro, a Ford dealership in Whitehorse, and launch the Klondike Broadcasting Company and the Whitehorse radio station CKRW. Now 90, Hougen is dedicating his time to philanthropy and community history. “My objective is to pass on as much history about Whitehorse and the Yukon as I can before I go.” Former Up Here editor Jeremy Warren tracks how the Hougens built a Northern business empire. (Up Here)

Approaching Yellowknife Back Bay with a DHC-2 Beaver. Photo by Steve Schwarz.


Whale blubber is fuelling a soapmaker’s Inuit pride. Jimmy Thomson wraps up his five-part series exploring entrepreneurship in Northern Canada with a profile of Iqaluit’s Bernice Clarke. (The Narwhal)

If Team Nunavut wears crocheted hats to sporting events, they should be made at home in Pangnirtung and not overseas, says area MLA Margaret Nakashuk. The territorial government recently put out an RFP for 355 of the colourful pieces of headgear. Minister of Community and Government Services Lorne Kusugak responded by noting Pang residents aren't the only milliners. “I’ve got two in fact that were made by my daughter.” (Nunatsiaq)

This weekend is the 40th birthday of the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre in Yellowknife. To celebrate, the museum's curatorial team invited media to a behind-the-scenes look into their archives. As someone who gets far too excited going through old, publicly archived newspapers, this was already right up my alley. And yes, there were delightful 50-year-old community news reports, such as “Barbara Leask is visiting her family in Ontario.” But the museum also showed off some terribly cool memorabilia from across the North. Plenty of history at the link. (Up Here)
Moose horns, polar bears, phone switchboards. Photo by Jacob Boon


Chinese researchers have created a powerful new insulator by reproducing the structure of polar bear fur. The carbon tube aerogel is elastic, lightweight, hollow. Just like polar bear fur. “Unlike the hairs of most mammals, polar bear hairs have hollow cores. Viewed under a microscope they look like long tubes. Apart from giving polar bears their distinctive color, these hairs are also very, very good at trapping heat, insulating against water, and are stretchy and bend to boot.” (ZME Science)

Glamping has arrived in Greenland. (Telegraph)

The Siberian Times reports that a massive wolf head has been discovered in the permafrost of Russia’s Yakutia region. The head measures 40 centimetres in length or about half length of a modern wolf’s entire body. (Siberian Times)

Meet the star ingredient changing fortunes in Alaska’s waters. Is it pollock? Crab? Nope. Seaweed. A growing awareness of climate change and a shift to plant-based diets has turned kelp farming into a big money market. (The Guardian)

We’ve already talked about Project Iceworm; the secret Cold War nuclear missiles base abandoned by the United States under the ice sheets of Greenland, now threatened by climate change. Author Jon Gertner, in his new book The Ice At The End Of The World, talks about how the construction of that base helped shape our current understanding of the Earth’s changing ecosystem. Massive drills hollowed out tunnels by bringing to the surface segmented ice cores. Layer by layer, those cores showed how the planet had warmed and cooled over millennia.

“Cores that came from closer to the surface exhibited seasonal stripes, and sometimes pockets of frozen dust, suggesting remnants of an ancient volcanic eruption or dust storm. But as the drill reached farther down, the cores were less obviously marked with annual layers,” Gertner writes.

What’s more, “some cores came to the surface hazy and loaded with bubbles, resembling cylinders of frozen milk, whereas deeper ice emerged clear like glass—only to become hazy a few weeks later as gases that had been under tremendous pressure deep in the ice sheet coalesced back into bubbles. Some of the cloudy, bubbly ice could be as fragile as crystal stemware.” 

Minutes after being retrieved from the drill, the cores would fracture and “crackle, as the air inside ‘relaxed’ in reaction to the pressure changes at the surface.” (


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