May 15, 2020
China looks for gold in Nunavut, Arctic wolf spiders turn to cannibalism, and a rough summer ahead for the iconic Alaskan road trip. We’re emerging wisely for the long weekend in this week’s Up Here newsletter.
A perfect evening gazing at the setting sun around a fire in Yellowknife. Photo by Julien Schroder. (@arctic.mood)


Happy three-day weekend? There might not be many camping trips or barbeques this Victoria Day, but as COVID-19 cases begin to taper off and it appears Canada is coming out of this pandemic, there are rays of hope to go with all the sunshine. Let's get to the news...

Thanks for reading,
Jacob Boon 


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The NWT has released its roadmap to a reopened territory. “Emerging Wisely,” as it’s dubbed, aims to lift restrictions in waves as the COVID-19 pandemic—hopefully—continues to remain controlled in the North. Nevertheless, the government's strategy comes with questions about how quickly—if ever—things will go “back to normal.” The Yukon and Nunavut reopening plans should be announced by next week. (CBC)

One day, ice archaeologists will be able to identify the spread of COVID-19 through the sharp drop in pollution seen in glacial ice packs. Read on about how the history of the pandemic will be written in ice. (
IFL Science)

Why does a huge Chinese mining company want to buy the Hope Bay gold mine in Nunavut? It’s a good business deal, says one researcher in global politics. Gold, unlike rare-earth elements, is strictly an investment product so there’s “no immediate national security issue,” says Michael Byers. “They want to make money.” (Nunatsiaq)

“This is the same region that would be serviced by the Grays Bay road/port, which also has major Chinese government interest,” counters Jimmy Thomson. “It’s worth looking at what the implications are of China owning major Canadian Arctic infrastructure.” (

Nunavut’s hunters say they’re mostly unaffected by the federal government’s new gun ban. The legislation bans 1,500 makes and models of “assault-style” weapons. But hunters in Nunavut tell CBC they prefer bolt action rifles anyway. “There's no need to be rapid in a lot of our hunting on a regular basis,” says Marty Kuluguktuk, the chair of the hunters and trappers organization in Grise Fiord. “Hunters want to be clean on their shots.” (

Hay River residents now have access to the 
fastest internet speeds in the territory, also unclean drinking water. (CBC)

Iron ore dust from Baffinland’s Mary River Mine has been found around seal breathing holes, causing concern from hunters about the mine’s environmental impact. Dust happens, says Baffinland. (

Trapped in the Arctic ice, waiting for a helicopter rescue, Eric Larsen had nothing to do but sit in a tent listening to an MP3 player with a handful of albums on it. For nine days he passed the time skiing tiny loops around the ice floe. “Mentally, that time in limbo was much like what he’s experiencing now, sheltering in place in Crested Butte, Colorado, with his wife and two kids.” How to manage cabin fever, from the experts. (
Outside Magazine)

“If you were to give Twitter a name in Inuktitut, would it be ‘Qinungagiaqtuvik?’” 
asks Igalaaq host Madeleine Allakariallak. Translation: “A place to go bitch and complain.” Though @JupiJobie has a different suggestion: “I usually call it siusiuvik—Inuktitut equivalent of tweet tweet.” (Twitter)
If you squint hard these edmontosaurus do kind of look like caribou... a little. (Illustration by Masato Hattori)
Edmontosaurus were the “caribou of the Cretaceous.” A new study says the prolific dinosaurs, which lived 70 million years ago, may have made their homes as far north as Alaska. (CBC)

Yellowknife’s mobile art gallery is making house calls during the pandemic; showing up to homes and hosting private showings for individual families. (
Cabin Radio)

“Never mind the stiff demeanour, dead eyes and diminutive stature—‘Atlin Barbie’ may just be northern B.C.'s most beloved online ambassador. ” (

Narwhals and beluga whales could be at high risk for coronavirus infection from seabirds, transport ships, even research scientists. (

Online orders work for restaurants where there's internet access and credit cards. That’s not always the case in the Arctic. Jane George looks at how Cambridge Bay’s Kuugaq Cafe has reinvented its business model. (

Yellowknife won its first-ever national curling championship in 1983, but it wasn’t without controversy. “Everyone said we had to have cheated.” (
Northern News Services)

Check out what Iqaluit mayor Kenny Bell calls “the coolest album promo video ever” for Echoes, the new release from the Jerry Cans (available today!) (

Border closure has left southeast Alaskan towns cut off from their Canadian ‘backyards.’ “Borders that once seemed like technicalities have suddenly become barriers.” (
Anchorage Daily News)

Speaking of, the Spokesman-Review newspaper says “with gas prices plummeting, this could be the year to drive the Alaska Highway
if the border opens.” Not likely, says CBC. “The iconic Alaska road trip is in for a very rough ride this summer.” (Various)

A heart-shaped lake in the forests of Alaska. Photo by Anthony Verlaine. (@frenchadventurer)


Thousands are headed to Alaska's fishing towns. So is the virus. (New York Times)

Arctic wolf spiders are increasingly becoming cannibals, in a disturbing dietary shift for northern ecosystems. (Science Alert)

Three hundred inhabitants of Longyearbyen, Norway came as workers from countries outside the European Economic Area. “And right now, that proves fatal,” writes Arne O. Holm. Without a European citizenship, those longtime residents don’t qualify for welfare benefits at a time when COVID-19 has decimated their industries. (
High North News)

“When Spanish ultrarunner and North Face athlete Pau Capell first learned of the effects of climate change happening in the glacial regions of the world, he was floored. One figure that stuck out to him was that polar bears were now trekking an extra 155 miles to seek safe habitats.” The new documentary Run for the Arctic follows Capell as he races from Alta to Nordkapp, Norway, to replicate the bears’ journey. (
Outside Magazine)

A team of 10 women became the first all-female team to fatbike across Greenland’s Arctic Circle Trail, back in March, undertaking the 200-kilometre expedition over six days (after six months of training). (
Eco Business)

There is plastic everywhere in the Arctic Ocean. So says a new report from Harvard University that finds no part of the North’s waters are free from plastic trash—but where it’s coming from is still hard to trace. (
Reykjavik Grapevine)
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