June 7, 2019

New insights on how ancient humans spread through the Arctic and a Nunavut fungus could hold the key to beating back malaria. Plus, abandoned meat, found swords, and Russia’s Pompeii readies for an eruption.

Amirah Miller-Hundrup pictured learning some lessons about life, death, and trapping at Muskrat Camp on Kluane Lake. Lori Fox has the story. Photos by Crystal Schick. 


Oh, we won. According to the National Magazine Awards, you're reading the newsletter for the best special interest magazine in Canada. Thank you! I mentioned it on Instagram (do you follow us on Instagram yet?) but any award for Up Here is really shared with everyone across the North. It's your stories, your voices, your home that we try to showcase. Thank you, sincerely.

As always, thanks for reading.
Jacob Boon



The biggest news across Canada this week was the final report from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, which concluded that the historical, ongoing levels of violence against Indigenous women in Canada amount to racial genocide. Sadly, Canadian media has spent most of the past week debating the use of the g-word rather than dealing with the report's numerous recommendations. 

“This process has tested me to my core,” said inquiry commissioner Qajaq Robinson at the report's release. Born in Iqaluit and raised in Igloolik, Robinson 
told the assembled crowd that she struggled as a non-Indigenous person to come to terms with her role in Canada's genocide. “Shame, guilt, denial. That urge to say no. No, no, that’s not what this is. This is not who I am. But it’s the truth, it’s our truth, it’s my truth, it’s your truth.” 

The presence of Inuit at the ceremony on Monday was hard to miss. A sealskin was draped from the podium, a qulliq was lit, and Prime Minister Trudeau shared the stage with a red amauti, created by InukChic’s Martha Kyak in tribute to her late sister, Lily. 
Among many other recommendations, the MMIWG report calls on the government to honour land claims and socio-economic promises made to Inuit, recognize Inuktut as an official Canadian language and create new laws to ensure the protection and revitalization of Inuit culture.
A familiar sight during summers in the North. Photo by Steve Olgle.
They’re the uninvited guest at every camping trip, and arguably the worst part of summer. Nuisance or not—is it possible to imagine a mosquito-free North? Editor Beth Brown covers herself in bug spray for this issue’s cover story and tries to see what lesson we can take from these resilient pests that everyone loves to hate. (Up Here)

It’s official! Yellowknife will host Hockey Day in Canada next year. I’ve been told producers for the CBC event are already on the lookout for inspiring Northern hockey stories to showcase during next February’s festivities. One imagines Dylan Cozens from Whitehorse will be on that list, as the teenage hockey prodigy laces up for the NHL draft. (City of Yellowknife)

Folk On The Rocks needs $300,000 to rebuild its main stage before the music festival opens to the public in—checks watch—five weeks. Not a lot of time. The old stage was deemed unusable after last year's festival and torn down. The replacement is being funded with $200,000 in emergency money offered as a five-year conditional loan from the City of Yellowknife and some additional territorial grants, but FOTR will still need another $150,000 or next year's 40th-anniversary celebration could suffer. (CBC)

A tornado touched down in the Northwest Territories last weekend. The twister spiraled through Fort Smith, confirms Environment Canada and the Northern Tornadoes Project. It's the fourth tornado ever recorded North of 60. Possibly because we've only been counting the tornadoes we can see. Tornado detection can only happen where there are radars to register them—which tends to be along large population zones. The closest radar centre to Fort Smith? Almost 700 kilometres away in Grande Prairie. (The Weather Network)

Someone abandoned a freezer full of wild meat, fish, and mukluk along Highway 3 in the Dehcho Region of the NWT. The government would kindly like to remind the public not to do that. “Allowing edible wild meat or raw pelts to spoil is an offence under the Wildlife Act,” says the department of environment and natural resources. “Meat that is spoiled or freezer burnt should not be discarded on the land, especially near communities, as it can attract other animals such as bears or wolves.” (Facebook)
Don't do this. Photo via ENR.

“The March 2019 issue of Up Here contained the brief article, ‘So Much in a Name,’ that mentioned how community names in the North have changed,” writes a reader. “It was interesting. Unfortunately, few people, Northerners included, know that more than just community names have officially changed. Since 1999, roughly 2000 geographic place names have officially changed within Nunavut and thousands more are likely to make it through the process over the coming years. The vast majority of these changes are the recognition of Inuktitut names.

“Publications that focus on the North, such as Up Here, should be especially aware of such changes instead of perpetuating the old, rescinded names like Eclipse Sound; which also appears in the same March 2019 as the article listed above. Eclipse Sound was officially changed to Tasiujaq in 2010.”

Duly noted. The author of this letter didn’t want it published in the magazine proper, but I think the issues they raise are worth highlighting here—if for nothing else than to point us all to the
official place name database for Canada, which can easily be extracted and inserted into Google Earth as a kml file.

Writer Kate Harris wants to explore the right way. Photo by Pila Kortsalo.

In an age where all corners of the globe have been mapped and charted, often to the detriment of the people living there, the term “explorer” bears mostly negative connotations, especially here in the North. Writer Kate Harris prefers to redefine the term as a poetic endeavour, rather than a practical one. “Curiosity’s best work in the world ends in a deep appreciation and a sense of wonder for everything around us.” Katharine Sandiford profiles Harris in this month’s edition. (Up Here)

A Whitehorse man found an old sword at the bottom of the Yukon River. Possibly it's a historical artifact, but somebody might want to check with the Company of the White Wolf to see if they've lost any weapons. The Yukon team was part of Canada’s battle force sent to the International Medieval Combat Federation’s World Championships in Ukraine. “But the real question,” asks Yukon News writer John Hopkins-Hill, “is how one travels from Whitehorse to Kiev and back with a full suit of armour and a plethora of weapons.” (Yukon News)

Canadian Geographic’s partnership with the oil lobby is alive and well, says reporter Jimmy Thomson, who dissects the “core propaganda” within a series of “Energy IQvideos published by CG and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. “Do we want the country's biggest science and nature publication to be a mouthpiece for the oil lobby? Do we want them to be the vessel for their propaganda getting into schools as a trusted national institution? Because that is happening.” (Twitter)

Anti-malaria molecules have been successfully synthesized from a Nunavut fungus. Researchers digging through the sediment of Frobisher Bay in 2017 found out that the microscopic fungus shared structural similarities with anti-malarial compounds, but until now those scientists weren’t able to grow any new samples without another costly trip North. The breakthrough could offer a solution to the increasing drug resistance of malaria-causing parasites. (Science Daily)
Jorgen Umaq hunting in Qaanaaq, Greenland. Photo by Anna Filipova.


What’s life like in the world’s northernmost, naturally-inhabited town? Photographer and researcher Anna Filipova reports for the Washington Post on how climate change is impacting life in the far north of Qaanaaq, Greenland. Click through for some incredible photography. (Washington Post)

Two new research papers are shedding light on how ancient humans spread throughout the Arctic. By comparing data from genomes dating back 32,000 years, scientists were able to identify a mosaic of at least three migrations from Siberia to the Americans, all intermingling within modern Inuit DNA. The main takeaway, “is that the process of human expansion is gradual and far from linear...There’s also evidence that people crossed back from the Americas and Beringia to Siberia—a reverse migration that belies the notion of constant human expansion.” (Discover Magazine)

The Bolshaya Udina volcano might become Russia’s Pompeii. The mountain was long thought dormant but recently began to stir for the first time in its scientifically-recorded history. Russians now believe the volcano may experience a horrific eruption in the near future that could bury vast lands in the Kamchatka Region under lava and ash. Scientist Ivan Kulakov says it “would be quite a thing.” (Sputnik News)

Ramadan is over, and so too is fasting during daylight hours for Muslims all over the world—including those North of 60. But how do Muslims in Alaska cope with Ramadan's requirements when the days reach 20 hours? (Voice of America)

The Scott Polar Research Institute has had a hell of a time putting an inunnguaq back together. The pink-granite cairn was constructed in 1964 by Aqjangajuk Shaa on Baffin Island, where it stood until London art dealer Charles Gimpel bought it at auction and brought it across the pond. His family subsequently donated the artwork to the research institute in the late '70s. Since then, an arm has fallen off, was glued back on, then fell off again. The structure was cemented together in 2010 for safety, which had the unfortunate effect of ballooning the inunnguaq's waistline into a "muffin top." After breaking in two in 2017, staff tracked down old photos from Baffin Island to help in the restoration and it was only then they realized the troublesome arm from years earlier had been reattached backward. Inuit sculptors: accept no substitutes. (BBC)
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