August 24, 2019
The Peel plan is finalized, China strikes gold with Canada’s new northern road, and everyone mocks Donald Trump’s Greenland plans.

The Peel Watershed in northern Yukon is larger than Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island combined. (PETER MATHER


Are you an Indigenous writer in the North with a story to tell? Our annual Sally Manning Award for Indigenous Creative Non-Fiction is open again for submissions. New and emerging First Nation, Inuit, and Métis writers have until December 31 to submit their entries. Winners receive cash prizes and will be published in an Up Here feature. More details can be found right here.

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As always, thanks for reading,
Jacob Boon 

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It took 15 years but the Peel Watershed plan is finalized. The document will regulate land and resource use in over 67,000 square kilometres of wilderness across northern Yukon. For background let's take a step back to 2015 and read the history of this legal battle, as dutifully reported by Eva Holland for Up Here.

Under the Yukon’s Umbrella Final Agreement, the territory's 11 signatory First Nations had an expectation of meaningful consultation in any land-use decisions about the Watershed. But instead of following recommendations drawn up through that consultation process, the Yukon government just wrote its own plan—dropping the area protected from mineral exploration from 80 per cent to just under 30 per cent

Here’s Thomas Berger, of the Mackenzie Valley pipeline inquiry, describing the situation in court as advocate for the conservation side:

“My argument is that Government of Yukon has left the Umbrella Final Agreement behind. They claim that the Recommended Plan and the Final Recommended Plan are only materials that Government of Yukon may find useful, but they have no standing. They might as well be a report that they found on the internet and said to themselves, oh, this has some good ideas. It’s as if the UFA had never been signed by Government of Yukon and entrenched in the Constitution.”

In 2017 the Supreme Court of Canada ordered the consultation process to start over anew and now, finally, a
signed plan is in place.

“This is truly a great day,” Na-cho Nyäk Dun Chief Simon Mervyn said in the statement. “I am tempted to think that my work as chief is over; that I can kick back now and fade into oblivion knowing that my people have a sanctuary for future generations. But in truth, the real work is just beginning.”

The moment was dampened, slightly, by the Globe and Mail/Canadian Press attributing that quote to Yukon Premier Sandy Silver (with an accompanying photo of NWT Premier Bob McLeod). 

“So the Globe and Mail just how-is-Yellowknife'd all of the Yukon,” tweets reporter
Jackie Hong. (Various)

Thaidene Nëné translates to “Land of the Ancestors.” (via NWT Tourism

Elsewhere in long-delayed negotiations, the Łutsël K’e Dene First Nation has signed off with the federal and territorial government for the new Thaidene Nëné protected area. The 26,400 square kilometres of boreal forest, tundra, and freshwater around Great Slave Lake’s East Arm will be a “permanent diamond mine” of riches, according to chief negotiator Steven Nitah. (Cabin Radio)

Nunavut will log onto fibre optic internet thanks to a cable connecting Canada to Greenland. Minister of Rural Economic Development Bernadette Jordan pledged $151-million to the proposed undersea cable project, which will stretch 1,700 kilometres from Nuuk, Greenland to Iqaluit. Nunavummiut could see download speeds of 1 gigabit per second (and presumably much cheaper prices) by 2023. (CBC)

Canadian taxpayers are on the hook for the $61 million in government spending for a fancy new road to open up Arctic mining in endangered caribou habitat. Obviously, the Chinese-owned mining company that stands to profit the most from the new road is pretty excited. (Narwhal)

CHARS is finally open. The Canadian High Arctic Research Station in Cambridge Bay was announced nearly a decade ago and originally was to have opened in 2017. Past Up Here editor Jeremy Warren got a peek inside the $190-million facility earlier this year. (Nunatsiaq)
Stephen Harper first announced CHARS in 2007. (via Jeremy Warren/Up Here)

Yellowknife was home to a tough, self-sufficient culture where repair, reuse, reimagination, and repurposing were all used to take an object well beyond its typical expected lifespan,” writes Dean Campbell for the unfortunately named Solid Waste Magazine. “But as larger corporations began to set up offices and bring staff to Yellowknife, southern ways of doing business began to influence the city. Salvaging became more of a taboo and now many choose to order from Amazon what they can’t buy in town.” (Solid Waste)

Speaking of recycling old trash; take a step inside Northern Collectibles in this story from the most recent issue of Up Here Business. Bryan Hellwig has been selling carvings while also operating Iqaluit’s glass and aluminum recycling depot from the same tiny shop for the last 20 years. (Up Here)

Nunavut has reached an agreement-in-principle for devolution, settling all the major hurdles for Ottawa to hand over decision-making powers to Canada’s youngest territory. Congrats! (CBC)

It’s a difficult situation to describe, writes Neil Shea, when a pack of Arctic wolves roaming around Ellesmere Island locks eyes with you. “The wolves watched me silently, but they were talking to each other with flicks of their ears, the posture of their tails. They were making decisions. And after a few moments they decided to come closer.” (National Geographic)
A Chinook helicopter flies along the Alaska Range on its way to Kahiltna Glacier. (via DoD/US Army)


Everyone has spent the past week mocking Donald Trump’s ridiculous offer to buy Greenland. I won't bother recapping the dozens of lengthy articles and rebuttals picking apart the president's bizarre proposal, but the hoopla has prompted William L. Iggiagruk Hensley to write about the last time America decided to buy some Arctic land:

“In Alaska, the Americans foresaw a potential for gold, fur, and fisheries, as well as more trade with China and Japan. The Americans worried that England might try to establish a presence in the territory, and the acquisition of Alaska—it was believed—would help the US become a Pacific power. And overall the government was in an expansionist mode backed by the then-popular idea of ‘
manifest destiny.’ So a deal with incalculable geopolitical consequences was struck, and the Americans got quite a bargain for their $7.2 million.” (Quartz)
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