November 8, 2019

Nunavut is hacked, Baffinland is in chaos, and the opera returns to Dawson City. Plus, creating a book heaven in Helsinki.

Some polar bear models ready for their close-ups. (via iStock)


Today is the last production day for the December issue, which we just sent out the door to meet our print deadline. Behind the scenes, you should know that effort involved several rounds of proofing of each and every page (done by myself, fellow editor Jessica Davey-Quantick and the publishers). So if there are more typos than usual in this week's newsletter, my apologies. There are many tired eyes over at the Up Here office.

As always, thanks for reading,
Jacob Boon 

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Nunavut was hacked. The territorial government’s computer network was shut off this past week after a ransomware attack locked and encrypted all of its files.

The impact is severe. Government officials turned
back to paper and phones for all communication. The 14,000 Nunavummiut who receive income support will have to make do with food vouchers instead of money until the system is back online. The territory will now be reformatting some 2,000 computers in Iqaluit alone. The government is guessing its network will be back to normal “within a week or two,” starting with essential services such as Health and Justice. 

Meanwhile, the manager of information security for the Northwest Territories says that the government’s systems are “
under constant threat” of an attack. (Various)

Roger Warren, the striking miner who confessed and was convicted for the Giant Mine explosion in 1992 that killed nine men, passed away back in the summer. Warren served 18 years for the crime, which many still believe he didn’t carry out alone. Hilary Bird with the CBC says Warren’s death has brought a sense of peace to Karen Fullowka, whose father, Vern, died in the blast when she was only eight years old. (CBC)

Polar Bears International House opened in Churchill, Manitoba this week. The non-profit's new on-the-land location hopes to serve as “ground zero” for all things polar bear conservation. On hand for the opening celebration was PBI spokesperson (and supermodel) Kate Upton. Though local resident Joe Stover was somehow more starstruck to meet Upton’s husband—Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander—inside the Tundra Inn and Pub. (RCI)

In other Arctic celebrity news, Pamela Anderson came under fire for ranting about the seal hunt again, while The Americans and Star Wars actor Keri Russell is standing with the Gwich’in to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Russell poses with other Arctic defenders in Brooklyn. (Gwich'in Steering Committee)

Baffinland is hot water over the company’s proposed Mary River mine expansion. Internal documents leaked by Ocean North (reported on here by The Narwhal’s Jimmy Thomson) show major differences between what the company is telling the public and what it’s promising investors

In response, the Qikiqtani Inuit Association—which controls most of the land under the Mary River mine—has refused to endorse or support Baffinland’s planned expansion. It’s a “bombshell declaration,”
writes Jim Bell with Nunatsiaq. Pond Inlet, the community closest to Mary River, is likewise opposed. The Nunavut Impact Review Board abruptly adjourned its review meetings this week in the wake of the scandal. Whether they'll continue at all is a debate that will now be deferred for the next eight months to one year.

“The information we’ve been given is watered down and it’s not enough,” Peter Ivalu, representing the Hamlet of Igloolik, said at the meeting. “All of the information given should be translated. You have to make sure everything is transparent.” (Various)


It’s time to rename Franklin Avenue in Yellowknife, says News North columnist Roy Erasmus. “Apparently, Sir John Franklin went through this area once almost 200 years ago. Two. Hundred. Years. Ago. This guy did nothing except pass by here when he was half-starved. Eschia!” (News North)

After more than a century, opera has returned to Dawson City. (Yukon News)

The town hearse in Watson Lake, Yukon will be auctioned off next spring. It’s been used since before Watson Lake was even incorporated, but has been off-the-roads for the last two years due to mechanical issues. The 1972 Pontiac hearse could be used, free of charge, by any local so long as it was for the funeral of a Watson Lake resident. Non-residents buried within the town’s boundaries were charged a $50 rental fee. Cam Lockwood, the town’s CAO, says hearses are out of fashion now anyway. Some families “choose to use their pickup truck.” (CBC)

About 10,000 patrons stop by every day to Helsinki's public library. (City of Helsinki)


The Finnish public library that was built to be a citizenship factory: “a space for old and new residents to learn about the world, the city, and each other.” Read on to find out how Helsinki created a “book heaven.” (CityLab)

The last living relative of Dr. Harry Goodsir addresses his distant cousin’s life and death as part of the Franklin Expedition. Michael Tracey has spent the past decade researching the doomed voyage, and tells The Scotsman he feels sorrow, but also pride for his long-lost relative. (The Scotsman)

Finnish tour operators have ended visits to Ukonsaari, Äijih, a sacred Sami island in Lapland, out of respect for the area’s history. Reporter Thomas Nilsen notes this move comes the same week that Australia imposes a climbing ban on the red-coloured monolith known as Uluru. (Barents Observers)

A lesson for Canada, particularly after the events this week in Nunavut: cyber defence is the glue that holds the Armed Forces together, and attacks against that cyberinfrastructure are the biggest threat countries are facing—especially Norway. (High North News)
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