March 15, 2019
This week, amateur radio enthusiasts tune in to Arctic research, a worm superhighway is discovered in the Mackenzie Mountains, and climate change’s circumpolar thaw appears “irreversible.” 

What's Happening Up Here

We’re excited to announce the latest addition to our Up Here editorial team. Beth Brown will be joining our magazine starting next month as senior editor, based out of Iqaluit. Beth has been doing great work reporting for Nunatsiaq News and we’re thrilled that she’ll soon be writing in our humble magazine. 

Her addition also means Up Here now has editorial staff in all three territories—helping us tell Northern stories on the ground, in the communities where they’re happening. That’s all thanks to our loyal subscribers. If you haven’t already, please considering purchasing an online or print subscription to Up Here so we can continue being Canada’s voice of the North. 

As always, thanks for reading,
Jacob Boon

Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation Chief Dana Tizya-Tramm had five minutes in front of lawmakers in Washington to sum up 40,000 years of oral history linking his people to caribou. That’s not consultation, he says. Elaine Anselmi looks at the impact that America’s plan to drill for oil in vital caribou habitat will mean for the community of Old Crow, Yukon. (Up Here)

One of the victims of last weekend’s devastating Ethiopian Airlines crash was Danielle Moore, an employee of Canada Learning Code who regularly visited Iqaluit to teach coding workshops. “The kids knew her, affectionately, as ‘the girl with the robots,’” the Pinnguaq STEM association said in a statement. “It’s impossible to overstate how much we will miss what she offered not just Nunavut but the world.” Moore had been travelling to attend the United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi. (Nunatsiaq News)

The Northwest Territories will finally get 911 service starting this summer, but there’s a lot of heavy lifting to be done before any calls can be made. A dedicated call centre needs to be created and staff hired to answer emergency calls from the NWT’s 33 communities, and in the territory's 11 official languages. Of course, some of those communities have limited cell coverage and bare-bones infrastructure, which has caused a few residents to question how effective the new service will be. New legislation mandates 911 go live starting in June. (Cabin Radio)

A 500-million-year-old worm “superhighway” has been discovered in the Mackenzie Mountains. Brian Pratt, a paleontologist with the University of Saskatchewan, “had a hunch” that some rocks from the remote NWT region contained evidence of early animal life more robust than previously thought. Sure enough, after cracking the stones open he found a hidden transit network (in what had been assumed to be barren sediment) made by several types and sizes of prehistoric worms “bioturbating” the sea bed (ranging from a few millimetres in diameter to one about the size of a finger). (Geek)

Speaking of Northern research, much of it is currently collected in disparate formats and scattered across unfriendly databases. Maribeth Murray, director of the Arctic Institute of North America, is working to improve that information access with the Canadian Consortium for Arctic Data Interoperability. The project, in collaboration with the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation and the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, hopes to build a national network of linked, interoperable data centres for everything from satellite imagery and ocean chemistry to Inuit knowledge on sea ice. (University of Calgary)

Be on the lookout for Salvage, Amy C. Elliott’s film about the Yellowknife dump. The documentary about the city's beloved ‘YKEA,’ which has furnished countless apartments, held its premiere last week at the South by Southwest Film Festival. Elliott assembled the film over several years, using newspaper columnist Walt Humphries' long-running ‘Tales From The Dump’ feature for research. No local screening times yet announced, but Elliott says she's determined to bring Salvage up North in the near future. (MyYellowknifeNow)

Finally, Beth Brown talks to some of the amateur radio enthusiasts at the Ellesmere Island atmospheric research station about their high-frequency hobby. “I get asked a lot about the weather,” researcher Pierre Fogal deadpans. At one point, HAM radio was the only reliable communication method for the isolated research outpost, which opened in 1947. (Nunatsiaq News)


The 1920s are roaring back into Norman Wells this July for a themed fly-in celebrating bush pilots and planes from a century past. Touch Down in the '20s will include a bush pilot BBQ, community tours, and a Prohibition-era dinner and gala. “Bring your 1920s style, knowledge, and excitement for a fun time for the ladies and gents,” reads a press release from organizers North-Wright Airways. For more info or RSVP, email 

ARCTIC TRIVIA: In 1937, one of Soviet Russia's greatest heroes flew over the North American Arctic, and neither he nor his passengers or cargo were ever seen again. What was his name? (email your answer to


A secret Cold War nuclear missile base, abandoned by the United States government under the ice sheets of Greenland, was supposed to remain “preserved for eternity.” Thanks to climate change, though, it now looks like this Bond-villain headquarters will be thawed out and exposed by 2090—along with all the chemical and nuclear waste left behind. “Project Iceworm” is already something of a political minefield, as America never bothered to tell Denmark it was building the missile launch site under lands now administered by Greenland. (IFL Science)

Expect to see more unexpected events like the above moving forward. The Arctic is now locked into what the United Nations calls inevitable climate change that could threaten 70 percent of circumpolar infrastructure by 2050. The conclusion comes from a new report that basically says Arctic winters are going to warm by three to five degrees, regardless of whether governments adhere to limits set by the Paris Agreement. It also appears Arctic summer sea ice could disappear within two decades, drastically raising sea levels across the globe. “The thawing trend appears irreversible,” concludes the dire report. (CBC)

In related news, Norway has almost completed renovations to protect its Svalbard Seed Vault from quickly thawing permafrost. Ironically, the venture to preserve human civilization in the wake of societal collapse is itself being threatened by climate change. Work has been underway since 2016 when warmer-than-usual weather caused large amounts of water to seep into the vault’s entrance tunnel. Engineers have been trying to strengthen the structure by replacing some permafrost layers and adding frost tubes to “assist” permafrost in the future. It will be re-sealed later this summer. (High North News)

Understandably, the kids aren't too happy with the world they're set to inherit. Kids like 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, who was just nominated by three Norwegian MPs for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. Thunberg began a “School Strike for Climate” last August, camping outside Parliament to demand faster action from her government on climate change. She’s skipped school every Friday since to continue the protest. Her actions have inspired thousands of other students to take similar direct action, with a mass demonstration in more than 100 countries planned for Friday. (RCI)


Residents in more than a dozen Northern communities have renamed their hometowns over the past few decades to represent the people who live there—not visitors or merchants from centuries ago (see above).

Eskimo Point became Arviat (‘place of the bowhead whale’) in 1989. Fort Franklin, so named because John Franklin wintered there in the 1820s, became Délįne (‘where the waters flow’) in 1993. Frobisher Bay, named after ignominious 16th Century privateer Martin Frobisher, was changed to Iqaluit (‘place of many fish’) in 1987.

But to make it official, there’s a whole bureaucratic process to follow. Outgoing Up Here editor Herb Mathisen asks what’s in a name for our
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