February 14, 2020

Saying goodbye to the baron of houseboat bay. Plus, flying whales, hippy killers, and snowed-in dairy cows. All in this week’s newsletter.

Hayley Hilchey shared this photo of the sun shining through an icy inuksuk in Iqaluit. (via Instagram)


It's a very quiet Valentine's Day in the office. Something we have been busy with this week, though, is preparing for our new website. Yes, predictably all the promises I made last year about a new website launching in the fall of 2019 got pushed back and delayed as the project grew in scope. But now, finally, we've got some funding and we're on our way. Check back in for an update on that development in a couple of months. In the meantime, on with the news...

Thanks for reading,
Jacob Boon 

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Goldman Sachs is now battling Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy over the investment firm's decision to no longer back business deals supporting oil drilling in the Arctic (a decision made thanks to the work of the Gwich’in Steering Committee). In response, Dunleavy has threatened to cut off millions that the state pays every year to the Wall Street firm. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, Barclays is the latest financial giant to shun fossil fuels over investor concerns. The NY Times this week had its own breakdown on the growing trend of global financial giants swearing off dirty fuel. The movement seems to be spurred on by increasingly eco-conscious investors. During the Arctic Frontiers conference I attended last month, Nordea Bank’s chief analyst in sustainable finance, Thina Margrethe Saltvedt, noted that divestment from fossil fuels is not enough anymore. Customers now want to invest their money in the blue and green economies, and back businesses that align with the Paris Climate Agreement. (Various)

Flying Whales could be coming to the North. Quebec recently invested $30 million in the French airship manufacturer, which the province says could promote economic development and ease transportation issues in northern Quebec. As noted by Elaine Anselmi, this is far from the first time dirigibles have been floated (nice one, Elaine) as a way to transport food to roadless sites in the North. (Nunatsiaq)

Salmon isn’t a traditional catch in most northern communities, but the sheer number of salmon being harvested nowadays due to climate change is prompting a lot of questions from locals. Most importantly, “how do we eat these?” (Cabin Radio)

A look into one of the North’s most spiritual communities: Charlotte Morritt-Jacobs with APTN sits down with residents of Délįne to discuss religion and spirituality North of 60. One of many things I learned from this piece is that in 1939 the government sent RCMP to Délįne prophet Louis Ayah to try and predict the outcome of World War 2. (APTN)

Nearly everyone who spends a lot of time in the bush during northern Canadian winters has a wall tent and a lightweight stove. Some companies call them bush stoves, and one—inaccurately—calls them “air tights.” Another commonly used name? The “hippy killer,” because, despite great functionality and efficiency, there are many ways to kill yourself while using one. (Up Here)

The only male contestant for the Sourdough Rendezvous crown has been driven out of the competition after facing “bigotry and bullying” in Whitehorse. The annual winter festival usually crowns a Rendezvous Queen every winter, but this year promoted the contest as gender-inclusive. (CBC)

Farewell to Gary Vaillancourt, one of the founders of Yellowknife’s houseboat community. The “baron of the bay” was honoured in a speech at the legislature by MLA and fellow houseboater Rylund Johnson. “I think Gary would scoff at the idea of me giving him an address in the Legislative Assembly,” said Johnson. “Unfortunately, our last interaction was him yelling at me about where to park my canoe, but Gary deserves this address.” (Cabin Radio)
Gary Vaillancourt in a still from the NFB film, Shadow of a Giant. (Clark Ferguson)

The barn had collapsed under the weight of 110 tonnes of snow. It took a couple of seconds for Yukon dairy farmer Loren Sadlier to spring into action. “We gathered up chainsaws and angle grinders and snow shovels, and just started extricating cows.” (CBC)

An Indigenous woman held for breaching conditions of her bail was kept for 11 days in an RCMP holding cell in Yellowknife, sleeping on a concrete slab with the lights on 24 hours a day. The “cruel and unusual” practice was first reported by CKLB, and now NWT’s justice minister is looking into the case. (Various)

Cremation may soon be an option in Yellowknife. Some 35 bodies are shipped south every year by families wishing to cremate a loved one. It’s an expensive, emotionally-draining process (though one imagines the return shipping isn’t anywhere near as costly). (Cabin Radio)

A tour guide has come forward with tales of “crazy” and “terrible” working conditions inside one of Yellowknife’s aurora businesses. Shao Yu arrived in the North from Toronto in December with the promise of $6,000 a month in wages. Instead, he was paid half that amount working “non-stop,” seven days a week while sharing a small apartment with 12 other employees. Aurora Story, the company in question, denies the accusations. (CBC)

In the wake of allegations against Nunavut actor Johnny Issaluk, APTN’s Kent Driscoll sits down with filmmaker Alethea Arnaquq-Baril to unpack uvangalu: Nunavut’s answer to the Me Too movement. (APTN)

Fifty years ago last week, Yellowknife got its first-ever traffic light. Almost immediately someone took it out with a shotgun. (Cabin Radio)

Photo by wildlife photographer Roie Galitz


What do you do if a polar bear wants to borrow your camera? Shoot an award-winning image yourself. That's what New York photographer Roie Galitz did. (Fstoppers)

Speaking of, Finland’s bears are increasingly being tamed by photo-hungry tourists and it’s a problem. (YLE)

Young people in the Nordic countries are among the most privileged in the world—yet many of them feel miserable. Blame social media. (EUObserver)

Permafrost is thawing so fast it’s gouging giant sinkholes into the soil, and scientists now fear they’ve greatly underestimated the impact on Arctic landscapes. (Wired)

Meanwhile, the sinking land is forcing Alaskan villagers to relocate to firmer ground, which in turn is causing chaos for the 2020 American census. (NPR)

Finally, is eating fermented shark in Iceland sustainable? (Forbes)
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