June 21, 2019
Snow-goggle sunglasses in Toronto, and Raptors celebrations in Délįne. Plus, lonely whale songs, ice tsunamis, and a history of Yellowknife’s aurora industry.
Under the midnight sun in Arviat, Nunavut. Courtesy Kayla Danielle 


Early newsletter this week. We’re taking tomorrow off for National Indigenous Peoples Day. Like the rest of Yellowknife, we’ll be spending our Friday eating fried fish and enjoying the festivities at Somba K’e Park. If you’d like to participate, even from afar, CBC will be broadcasting live from Yellowknife, Fort Simpson, and Inuvik. More events scheduled all across Canada can be found here.

Hey, remember last week when we directed you to Jimmy Thomson’s entrepreneurial profile of Iqaluit soapmaker Bernice Clarke? Well, mea culpa. Our own Beth Brown profiled Clarke and several other women leading an entrepreneurial boom across Nunavut in the winter edition of Up Here Business. It wasn’t online last week. It is now. Go check it out!

As always, thanks for reading.
Jacob Boon



A new report from the Geophysical Research Letters journal shows permafrost is melting at rates 150 to 240 per cent faster than a generation ago. The results are “hell on Earth,” according to Ruth Kaviok, a 20-year-old from Arviat. “How do we stop this?” says Kaviok. “How do I prevent it so my baby nephew doesn’t have to go through this? When the sea ice melts, how will we teach kids how to go seal hunting or to go fishing?” (Western Star)
“Think of permafrost as sort of the glue that holds the Northern landscape together,” says scientist Steve Kokelj. Not so much anymore. Two years ago the melty, wet conditions caused 87 landslides in Inuvik in a single night. It's the first time that's ever been recorded, but probably won't be the last. “We have no basis to believe that this will not continue,” says researcher Chris Burn. “It won’t stop now.” (CBC)
Meanwhile, an age-old ice bridge across the Yukon River isn’t freezing like it once did, threatening to cut off the small community of West Dawson from essential services (and their neighbours). (CBC)

And if all of that wasn’t enough to worry you, the Toronto Star points its “Undeniable” series North, looking at the impacts of climate change on the Arctic Ocean: vanishing coastlines; disrupted hunting; new opportunities for oil and gas exploration. “So a question bubbles, one that has divided some northern Indigenous communities,” writes reporter Jesse McLean. “Is oil money worth risking a way of life?” (Toronto Star)
Goggles by Mathew Nuqingaq. Photos and models; @themarianabag and @onerightlane
Artist Mathew Nuqingaq offers a contemporary twist on traditional Inuit eyewear. His “Masquerade” exhibit (which opened last week at Feheley Fine Arts in Toronto) updates aayuraa (snow goggles) into modern-styled sunglasses made from muskox horn, baleen, and even a box of Frosted Flakes. (Nunatsiaq)

What caused water levels in Yellowknife’s Back Bay to suddenly drop by 25 centimetres over the course of an hour, then shoot back up 30 minutes later? It wasn’t tides, glaciers, or aliens, says CBC’s Randi Beers. Instead, blame a rare wind phenomenon called a seiche. (CBC)

It was already a celebratory mood in Délįne at the community’s high school graduation ceremony. Then the news came in that the Toronto Raptors had won the NBA championship. “All of a sudden all of the young people just started yelling and dancing,” elder Morris Neyelle tells CBC. “We had a good one, a good dance for the Raptors.” Heartwarming video at the link. (CBC)
Over in Haines Junction, Yukon, the Dákù Nän Ts’éddhyèt Dance Festival woke up the land with performances from traditional and contemporary Indigenous artists who flew in from all over North America. Crystal Schick has the photos. (Yukon News)
Last year, aurora watching attracted 35,000 visitors to the NWT, who left behind $57 million in cash. The Northern Lights have become big business in Yellowknife in recent years, as tour operators woo foreign travellers to what’s become the aurora capital of the world. Jimmy Thomson illuminates the story of how it all happened. (Up Here)
Did you know that the hamlet of Aklavik puts out canoes free for anyone to use each summer? Photo by @wandering.inuit

“When we first started playing, it was literally like Metallica and Ozzy Osbourne and Guns N' Roses [covers],” says The Jerry Cans drummer Steve Rigby. “So it was a lot of people clapping politely [at our shows], being like, ‘way to go, you learned an instrument.’’ CBC’s Unreserved goes deep, covering the band’s journey from Legion covers to ambassadors of Inuit culture. (CBC)

All that success hasn’t come cheap. The five-piece band recently spent $10,000 just on plane tickets to travel from Iqaluit to a show in Toronto. Call it a problem of popularity, writes Jackson Weaver. Interest in Northern Canadian musicians is surging thanks to streaming services, which can reach a wider audience than ever before. But it also means those Northern musicians have to tour more to generate income that, in the past, would have come from album sales. (CBC)
The battle over Baffinland’s expansion continues. “Volley after volley of criticism” was lobbed at the company’s proposal to expand its Mary River iron mine on Baffin Island. It was the second technical meeting about the company’s plans. The first, back in April, took place before reams of information reports were made available to the public. This time, Baffinland has gone in the opposite direction, say the Qikiqtani Inuit Association—issuing such a severe volume of reports and obfuscating supporting materials as to create a “three-dimensional spider’s web.” (Nunatsiaq)

A landslide has damaged trees and blocked caves at Bear Rock, a sacred Dene site in the NWT. “It’s Tulita’s Notre Dame,” says CBC’s Alex Brockman. Retired journalist Paul Andrew, who’s from the area, picks another holy site, comparing the mountain's significance to the Vatican’s importance for Catholics. “It’s huge, in other words.” (CBC
This new map of Greenland is the first of its kind to cover the entire European Arctic on one sheet. Print by British Antarctic Survey.


England can relax, a little, now that a post-Brexit supply of fish-and-chips is available thanks to a renewed import agreement with the Faroe Islands. Norway and Iceland have also signed so-called “continuity deals” with the United Kingdom to replicate old EU trade agreements. (CPH Post)

Ice tsunami in the extreme North of Russia means summer is finally here.” If you say, so, Siberian Times. There’s video. (Siberian Times)

An unusual whale skull tucked away in museum storage for the last 30 years has, thanks to DNA testing, become the first confirmed offspring of a narwhal mother and a beluga father. “As far as we know, this is the first and only evidence in the world that these two Arctic whale species can interbreed,” says the curator of the Natural History Museum of Denmark. Makes sense, tweets Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory, because in Greenlandic “the word qilalugaq is used for both beluga and narwhal.” (UPI)

Speaking of whales, scientists have for the first time recorded a North Pacific right whale singing. The young male is currently swimming around the Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska. Researchers believe the lonely lad is using his musical skills to try and find a date. Male right whales in this population outnumber females three-to-one. Casanova's series of gunshot-like vocal bursts isn't exactly the song of the summer, but you can listen for yourself over at the link. (Reuters)

An incredible, minutely detailed new map of Greenland has been compiled by GIS specialist Laura Gerrish over the past two years, using over a dozen satellite data sets. It's the most accurate map to date of the Arctic island, and it's already almost out of date. Glaciers around Greenland are pulling back by tens of metres a year, says Henry Burgess, head of the Natural Environmental Research Council’s Arctic Office, in turn revealing new coastline features as they crumble. “So, yes, mapping is a constant process.” (BBC)
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