August 16, 2019
Secrets of the Yukon’s soil, miniature Inuit carvings tell big stories, and the delicate yet hardy Arctic butterfly. All in this week’s newsletter.

Eighteen kilometres, 1,300 meters, and one happy camper in Kluane National Park. Courtesy Dana van Vliet (via Instagram


Did you know that of the first 5,000 subscribers to Up Here, 137 are still active today? Just one of the tidbits you'll be able to read in our upcoming 35th-anniversary special. I know I've been mentioning that issue for what feels like six months but it's actually, really almost here, I promise. On newsstands come September! And big thanks to all the subscribers who have stuck with us over the years. 

I've got some interviews to do so let's keep things short-ish. On to the newsletter!

As always, thanks for reading,
Jacob Boon 

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Carolyn Bennet was in Iqaluit on Wednesday to apologize for the forced relocation and mass slaughter of sled dogs by RCMP officers. It's a small but very important acknowledgment of the country's mistreatment of the Inuit. (Reminder that only a decade ago the RCMP were still denying the lived experience of Inuit elders.) Long overdue, then. But the timing of the apology once again coinciding with Justin Trudeau being raked over the coals has, well, become something of a running joke.

“Is it just me, or do Liberals seem to come to Nunavut when there's really bad news in Ottawa?” tweets
@Nuliayuk. “I am thus coining the term ‘Hiking the Apex Trail.’”

This is the third federal apology to Nunavut’s Inuit this year. Bennett previously came to Iqaluit in January, a week after Trudeau mysteriously removed Jody Wilson-Raybould from the justice file. The prime minister's visit back in March to apologize for Canada's treatment of Inuit with tuberculosis happened just as the resulting SNC-Lavalin scandal blew up in his face. And now this week's apology from Bennett occurred while the rest of the country was busy 
pouring through the damning Ethics Commissioner report that found "flagrant" violations of parliamentary ethics by the PM.

The timing is probably more coincidence than PR-planning, but it sadly guarantees southern media won't be spilling much ink talking about what's historically been an overlooked and unconscionable part of Canadian history. (Various)

Ted Baird and his brother build a fire on the banks of the Kuujjua River, Victoria Island, before paddling to Ulukhaktok. Courtesy Jim Baird

Signing the walls at Bullocks Bistro is practically a legal obligation for any visitors to Yellowknife, but the secret of how the Old Town icon keeps reeling in the customers is really all about the fresh fish. And butter. Lots of butter. (Up Here Business)

An “unrelenting period of heavy fog” is wreaking havoc on the northern Labrador community of Nain. Air traffic has been at a standstill since the beginning of August, trapping travellers and delaying food and other perishable deliveries. The poor weather has also brought down internet, phone, and power services and some areas of town are now without running water. (Toronto Star)

More than 100 miniature Inuit carvings are now on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, representing 19 communities from across Nunavut. “The amount of detail that go into them, the expression. You can see the joy and happiness in them,” says Jocelyn Piirainen, the WAG’s assistant curator of Inuit art. (Winnipeg Free Press)

Montana Mountain is a sacred place for the Carcross/Tagish First Nation, home to old hunting trails and Gold Rush-era mining roads. It’s also the Yukon’s hottest new destination for mountain biking. (Forbes)

Canada Goose and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami are continuing their Project Atigi partnership. The two groups are on the lookout for 20 Inuit designers from across all four Inuit Nunangat regions to create 100 special parkas over the next several months. Proceeds from the sale of those creations will go back to ITK and local communities. (NNSL)
Lizzie Ittinuar's “Beaded Amauti” (c. 1970s). Courtesy of Bowdon College and the Inuit Art Foundation (via Instagram)

Microplastics have been found in what was hoped-to-be pristine Arctic ice taken from Lancaster Sound, proving that there are few—if any—ocean waters left on the planet free from pollution. “When we look at it up close and we see that it's all very, very visibly contaminated when you look at it with the right tools, it felt a little bit like a punch in the gut,” researcher Jacob Strock told the media. (Reuters)

Yukon soil contains two kinds of tick-killing fungi; a discovery that could prove important in managing the continent’s exploding tick populations. Spores from both fungi gruesomely dispatch the creepy critters by first infecting and then drinking up all the moisture inside the arachnids from the inside-out, leaving behind a “dried-up tick mummy.” (Yukon News)

It took 80 days of carving, but Wayne Price’s 10-metre canoe, hand-carved from a single 450-year-old red cedar log, is now seaworthy. The Tlingit master carver and a small team of Carcross/Tagish apprentices worked on the dugout canoe project over the past few months. Violet Gatensby, one of those apprentices, had tears of joy when handing the finishing boat over to her nation. “I put my heart and soul…everything into that boat, blood, sweat, and tears quite literally.” (CBC)

Most Arctic animals have woolly coats, downy feathers, or thick layers of blubber to stay warm, writes author Mia Pelletier. In comparison, Arctic butterflies, with their delicate wings, appear fragile. “Yet the hardy butterflies that live at the top of the world have many clever ways to keep themselves warm in cool summers and endure icy cold winters.” Read more in Inhabit Media’s new book, A Children’s Guide to Arctic Butterflies. (NNSL)

Tuktoyaktuk and Paulatuk, NWT are seeing an increase in bear break-ins at cabins. Owners are doing what they can to keep the grizzlies out, but it doesn’t appear to be working. "They're getting really aggressive,” says Darrel Nasogaluak, chair of Tuk’s Hunters and Trappers Committee. “They are going through walls and pulling plywood back and working their way around anything [the homeowners have] tried.” (CBC)
At first I thought those were bleachers to the left of Henningsvær's soccer pitch, but they're actually racks for drying cod. (via Twitter)


Henningsvær is a small Norwegian fishing village in the Arctic with a population of 500 people and one of the most famous soccer fields in the world (see above). More unusual football pitches (including from Tasiilaq, Greenland) at the link, just in time for the Premier League’s kickoff this weekend. (Press Association)

A message in a bottle from a Soviet fisher has been discovered by an Alaskan basketball coach exactly 50 years after it was written. Even more delightfully, the Russian media tracked down the now-86-year-old captain who wrote the message. (AV Club)

America has gutted protections in the Endangered Species Act, which now requires a “stringent” cost-benefit analysis before deciding whether or not to protect species headed for extinction. “How much are polar bears worth?” asks Newsweek. (Newsweek)

Speaking of the Americans, Trump wants to buy Greenland. (BBC)

If it wasn’t already clear that we’re heading for a recession, even Santa Claus is outsourcing his labour. Finnish Lapland is recruiting guides, hotel workers and—yes—elves for the coming holiday tourism season. Application at the link. (European Job Days)

Two people are dead and six injured after a Russian missile explosion at a test site in the far north. Medics evacuating the worksite wore nuclear protection suits, the navy is keeping all shipping out of nearby Dvina Bay, and there's a rush on iodine at local pharmacies—but everything is perfectly normal, says Russia. Time to go rewatch Chernobyl. (BBC)
Caribou curve by @north60geo (via Instagram)
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