January 10, 2020

Northern Canada offers aid to Australia’s wildfire fight, the Yukon’s golden boy returns from the World Juniors, and mead is the new craft beer in Iceland.

Kaytlin Cooper sent us this shot of the first sunrise of 2020 in Inuvik, Northwest Territories, overlooking the east channel of the Mackenzie River delta.


No news from the office, but there's plenty to talk about that's happening outside our walls, so let's get to it.

Thanks for reading,
Jacob Boon 

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In an
opinion piece for the Guardian, Gwich’in Steering Committee executive director Bernadette Demientieff warns big banks to follow the lead of Goldman Sachs and pledge to not fund any Arctic drilling enterprises:

“More and more, banks are recognizing that investing in a project that would threaten human rights and worsen the climate crisis is an expensive risk that’s not worth taking. The public is watching them more closely than ever before, and if they facilitate the destruction of our homelands, they’ll have the Gwich’in Nation and the millions of Americans who stand with us to answer to.”

The debate on opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to drilling has always been a question of money, even as the actual amount of oil buried in the wilderness lands
remains secret. When calculating that potential revenue though it's always important to remember that the true cost is simply being deferred to future generations. (Various)

A lot of online excitement this week after a vintage sealskin parka from the high Arctic was left in an Edmonton Goodwill donation bin. The coat was made by the Holman Eskimo Co-operative (in what is now Ulukhaktok) sometime in the ‘60s or ‘70s. The co-op is now trying to track down which seamstress may have made the parka. Meanwhile, Goodwill is looking for a museum to house and preserve the piece. (Global)

“Canadians tend to think of Inuit art as something that adorns a gallery wall, not your living-room curtains,” writes Jeremy Freed. “For a brief period in the 1960s, however, a handful of artists at Kinngait Studios in Cape Dorset, Nunavut, set out to change this with a collection of hand-printed textiles.” Printed Textiles from Kinngait Studios, a new exhibit at the Textile Museum of Canada in Toronto, tell this story. (Globe and Mail)

There’s a new northern reality show featuring, you guessed it, blue-collar workers navigating extreme conditions. High Arctic Haulers, from CBC, follows in the footsteps of Ice Road Truckers, Ice Pilots NWT and other rating juggernauts. Northerners will love this inside look at the annual Nunavut sealift, raves Nunatsiaq editor Jim Bell: “Once you get past its cringe-worthy introduction, High Arctic Haulers becomes the kind of reality television series that Northerners are bound to fall in love with.” Check out the first episode this Sunday or online at CBC Gem. (Nunatsiaq)
The Sedna sealift, as seen on High Arctic Haulers. (Courtesy CBC)

For decades, Canada’s health service would pressure pregnant Inuit women in remote communities to travel south and give birth in hospitals. The stated reason was to try and improve newborn survival rates, “but for many Indigenous women, the policy turned pregnancy into an illness and deprived them of care by traditional methods,” writes the New York Times. “Many also found the experience of being sent from home isolating and sometimes traumatizing. Because they left their communities well before their due dates, they spent weeks away from their families to give birth in unfamiliar surroundings, tended by doctors and nurses who didn’t speak their first language.” (New York Times)

Contractors for the Tłı̨chǫ all-season road are working without proper approvals from the local Land and Water Board. The Northwest Territories' Department of Infrastructure continues to forge ahead with the construction project despite repeated failures to submit detailed plans to the board. The project has also been called out for leaving food and other garbage behind as its main camp advances north. Last month, reports CBC, a frozen pipe at one of the road's construction camps burst, spilling 15,000 litres of grey water and sewage. (CBC)

The first electrically-powered Beaver aircraft recently completed a maiden flight in Vancouver, but don’t expect to see electric floatplanes crisscrossing the North anytime soon, says Yukon News columnist (and Up Here Business writer) Keith Halliday. The biggest challenge at the moment with electric planes is the battery size. This recent Vox explainer video on air travel deftly illustrates the constraints; to fly a passenger jet across the country the plane's battery would (with current tech) need to be bigger than the aircraft itself. But there might be room in the sky for electric floatplanes, which require much less charging space. Still, as Halliday points out, the real challenge ahead will be determining the balance between finding alternative fuels and changing our own actions and choices. (Yukon News)

Canada won gold at the World Juniors, with Whitehorse’s favourite hockey son Dylan Cozens scoring the first Canadian goal in the team’s 4-3 win over Russia. Naturally, the Yukon teen was met with an enthusiastic welcome when he returned home this week. Not to be overlooked, Yellowknifer Annie King came home from Slovakia with a silver medal win as part of Team Canada’s efforts at the Under-18 Women’s World Hockey Championships. (Various)
“Dream come true, thank you Canada,” tweeted Dylan Cozens. (via Twitter)

Speaking of famous athletes, Tessa Virtue stopped by the Yellowknife Skating Club last weekend. Canada’s favourite ice dancer (sorry Scott) was in town “working on a film project,” according to the Northern News Service Ltd., “but found a few spare minutes to stop by the Multiplex to talk with some members of the skating club.” (NNSL)

François Paulette has been named to the Order of Canada, but the Denesuline Elder says he had to reflect on whether to accept. "My first thought was, well, that's a colonial system that's giving me this medal,” Paulette tells Cabin Radio. A founding member of the Indian Brotherhood, Paulette was given the award for his lifetime of work fighting for treaty rights and circumpolar health research. Ultimately, he was persuaded to attend the ceremony and accept the honour for his grandchildren. (Cabin Radio)

Clues to the changing Arctic environment can be found perched on the sheared-off cliffs of Prince Leopold Island in Nunavut’s Peel Sound. Reporter Elaine Anselmi writes about the Arctic Seabird Egg Monitoring Program—Canada’s longest-running environmental monitoring program—which has been cracking open the case of ecological contaminants since 1975. (Nunatsiaq)

As Australia burns, the North is offering what help it can. Yukon Wildland Fire Management administration assistant Linda Brandvold is currently in Batemans Bay, Australia to help out with emergency planning as crews continue battling the hellish wildfires. The volunteer group Tahltan Strong, which was formed after the 2018 Telegraph Creek wildfires in northern British Columbia, is also looking at how to raise funds for relief efforts. Similar efforts are being made in Fort McPherson, as the NWT community rallies around Australian ex-pat Richard Marlow, who has been working as a teacher in the Gwich’in community for the last six months. “Being so far away from home has left Marlow feeling isolated and ‘pretty powerless to do anything,’ he admitted, but said that the support from across the North has ‘absolutely blown [him] away.’” (Various)
That ghostly reindeer glow is from reflective paint, which Finnish herders spray on their herd's antlers to avoid road accidents. (via Twitter) 


The Latin name for polar bears is Ursus maritimus—literally marine bear. And recent studies show the dangerous predators more than deserve the title, spending more time in the water, swimming farther and diving deeper than was thought previously. One study tracked a female polar bear in the Beaufort Sea who swam continuously for nine days over a distance of 687 kilometres (which is basically like swimming across the entire Hudson Bay). (Barents Observer)

What happens when the temperature hits 40 below zero (the only point at which Fahrenheit and Celsius agree)? Water freezes in the air. Skis can’t glide. Noises sound louder. Kids still have to catch the bus to school. (Alaska Daily News)

Building homes in that extreme cold is no easy feat—especially when those structures have to adapt to climate change, expensive building supplies, and blueprints drawn up from a southern perspective. “The idea of what a home—or a public building or a school—looks like and how it should behave is often based on temperate models, and we then have to retroactively make them Arctic,” says a researcher with the Cold Climate Housing Research Center in Fairbanks, Alaska. “There have been famous attempts to make an architecture for the North, but there’s been very little impetus to create an Arctic architecture from the North.” (Architect’s Newspaper)

After a 1,300-year hiatus from the country’s drink scene, mead is the new craft beer of Iceland. (Ozy)

Deep in the heart of Greenland, hidden on a rocky outcrop some 3.8 billion years old, are a few tiny, strange squiggles that may hold the oldest known signs of life on Earth. Or so the debate among scientists goes. That is, until two competing groups of researchers headed to the remote location to study those squiggles for themselves. (Science News)
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