March 20, 2020

I'm sorry, this newsletter will also be about coronavirus.

Devon Manik is pictured here on Cornwallis Island in the High Arctic, as photographed by Paul Jackson. (via Instagram)


So, everything is still chaos, huh? For the time being, Up Here's office remains open and production of the magazine hasn't yet been impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But just like the appearance of the virus in the northern territories, it's only a matter of time. I'll try to keep you updated on anything that arises, though certainly you have bigger priorities right now in your own life. 

At least there are some new things to read. Our latest issue is out this week. Inside, we showcase the winners of our annual northern photography contest. Plus, we spend some downtime with Yellowknife's urban dog mushers, crack jokes with Cree puppeteers from Pukatawagan, Manitoba, and stroll through the magical, mysterious world of lichen.

If you're not already a subscriber, consider
purchasing a subscription? It would greatly help us continue publishing northern stories in these troubling times.

Thanks for reading,
Jacob Boon 

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Do not come to Nunavik. The area's Inuit leaders, like those in many remote northern communities, are taking extreme steps to avoid the catastrophic outbreaks that already decimated past generations. “Our elders remember the scourge of tuberculosis, as well as the rapid spread of German measles that killed many Inuit in the 1950s,” said Makivik Corporation President Charlie Watt in a news release. “Taking immediate action to essentially close the Arctic is important to protect our population from this new virus.” (CBC)

It should be a little easier to keep visitors out with the drastic reduction in service from northern airlines.
Canadian North and Air Inuit, both owned by Makivik, started dropping flights from their schedules this week. Air Canada suspended flights from Yellowknife to Calgary and Vancouver. And Air Tindi cut its schedule by more than half to focus on its medical evacuation fleet and “ensure the survival of the company.” Good luck to them, as by the end of May most airlines in the world could be bankrupt. (Various)

Mining in the North is also being hit hard by COVID caution. Baffinland's Mary River mine told its Nunavummiut workers to
stay home, with pay. Agnico Eagle made the same call, reversing a previous corporate decision to keep its Nunavummiut workers on site after a small blockade of concerned residents outside Rankin Inlet cut off access to the Meliadine gold mine. Until safe travel is arranged, Inuit employees are being kept from contact with the larger southern workforce at Agnico's three Nunavut mines. In the Northwest Territories, Diavik has sent its workers home and Ekati has suspended production. It's another major blow to northern economies after already seeing the year's cruise ship and tourism industries shuttered. 

The pandemic is also delaying and cancelling the summer research season in the Arctic, leaving scientists scrambling to figure out safe, practical methods to prevent data gaps in research projects that have been ongoing for 50 years. (

Meanwhile, one couple from Fort Smith is stuck on a cruise ship circling the Pacific Ocean. (Cabin Radio)

Speaking of cruises, two non-profits say they’re owed thousands of dollars in charitable donations raised by the financially struggling One Ocean Expeditions. This is the latest financial blow to the Squamish B.C. company, which had one of its ships run aground near Kugaaruk in 2018, then two others recalled by their Russian owners last summer. The company’s remaining vessel was arrested in Nunavut last May for a $100,000 debt owed to a Nova Scotian company. (

Pat Kane is taking portraits of Yellowknifers social distancing: “It’s partly an art project, partly a mental health break for me and the people in the pics and part documentation of social distancing and isolation because of COVID-19.” (Instagram)

Now for some good news.

The best way to de-stress during this frightening time is to look for safe opportunities to get outside, writes Marc Peruzzi, who is “finding peace in a pandemic.” (
Outside Magazine)

Norman Yakeleya agrees. The Dene Nation national chief is advising his people to go out on the land to avoid exposure to coronavirus. “This is a perfect time for people to show youngsters how to build a fire in the morning, how to put up a tent,” Yakeleya said. “It’s almost spring. If people can get their families out on the land, that’s a perfect way to self-isolate, a way to avoid COVID-19.” (

One of the few sporting events still going on through all this craziness was the Iditarod, though the famed race did have to cancel its finisher banquet and moved two checkpoints outside of villages. (

Speaking of, I bet you could use some
dog photos right about now. (Up Here)

Anyone in quarantine who's missing their nights out at the Gold Range can rest a little easier now that Welders Daughter will be streaming performances live over the internet. (
Cabin Radio)

And, hey, since you’re stuck at home anyway, why not use this time to learn some Inuktitut? (
All cabin, no fever. (Photo by Kaila Walton, via Instagram)


Norway has shutdown. (The Barents Observer)

Still, there are worse situations to be in. Like, say, a hostage of a post-Gulag Arctic city: “Many Russians in the far North have been waiting for more than two decades to be resettled in lower latitudes. They are caught between Moscow's grand plans for Arctic development and an exodus of aging Soviet workers longing to see flowers rather than blizzards in the springtime.” (

Looking for something to watch in isolation? Here's a rare 1997 documentary where British rock band Blur travels to Iceland, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands. Lead singer Damon Albarn is apparently a big fan of the Nordic countries. He even explored obtaining Icelandic citizenship after “experiencing an ‘epiphany’ of sorts during what was a deeply creative period of his life which also coincided with heavy drug taking.” Haven’t we all? (
Far Out)
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