July 17, 2020
Processing muskox meat, powering the Yukon with solar, and a not-so-welcome sign in Inuvik. Plus, a major shift in the Arctic food chain. All in this week’s Up Here newsletter.
Yellowknife's houseboats on a summer evening. (Courtesy North Star Adventures)


Some exciting news here at the office. Up Here, with help from Magazines Canada, is on the hunt for an editorial intern. The successful candidate will be hired for a four-month paid contract this fall. We're strongly encouraging any northern or Indigenous writers who'd like to work in our Yellowknife offices to apply. More details and how to apply can be found right here.

There should also be some exciting news to announce soon about another new staff hire. I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime...

Thanks for reading,
Jacob Boon 


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A week later and Edmonton’s CFL team is reportedly ready to change its problematic name. The club conducted an online poll earlier this week to garner feedback about the renaming issue, but it was only up for a day-and-a-half before being taken down amid vocal criticism about its leading questions. (Various)

In the midst of the debate, documentary filmmaker Alethea Arnaquq-Baril shared a small clip from a film she co-produced, Arctic Defenders, where the fathers of Nunavut shared their thoughts on ‘Inuit’ vs. ‘Eskimos’: “It was not our language. We’re going to stick to our own identity, and our own language of describing ourselves.” (

In the ’60s, the Canadian government stole three Inuit children and placed them with foster families in Ottawa to see how the boys would fare in a southern environment. The three “experimental Inuit” are now seniors who have been waiting 12 years for their lawsuit against the federal government to move forward. (

Congratulations to Riit, who’s been nominated for the SOCAN songwriting prize. The Inuk electro pop artist is nominated for her song #uvangattauq, which is off of her debut album released last fall. Winners, chosen in an online vote, receive $5,000. (

Speaking of music, folk singer Craig Cardiff has created an ode to Canada’s North with his new single, “Yellowknife.” Now, the Ontario artist wants filmmakers here in the NWT’s capital to create a music video for his song—provided they can get it done in 48 hours. You can hear
“Yellowknife” on Spotify. (Cabin Radio)

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Alberta suspended its environmental monitoring of oilsands companies. But the province didn’t bother notifying the Northwest Territories about that change, despite a legally binding agreement to do so. (
Canadian Press)

“In the Canadian North, China sees a barren and untapped opportunity and a host country with little leverage to bargain. Is China so wrong in its assumptions?” (
Policy Options)

If you haven’t been following the story, Inuvik’s new town sign is causing quite the uproar. The new Gateway sign replaces the well-known 
“End of the Dempster” mural familiar to northern visitors. In its place will be set a melding of aluminum and steel inspired by the northern lights. Love it or hate it, what’s got most of Inuvik annoyed is that the design was outsourced to a Nova Scotian company instead of using locals. (Various)

Fort Good Hope has set up a new mini-meat plant to process muskox, several of which were harvested when the animals recently crowded the community's airport's runway. For an area overrun with muskox, Fort Good Hope apparently eats very few of the animals. Sahtu biologist Kevin Chan says it can be a lot of work to process the animal due to its hair, the toughness of the meat, and, during rutting season, “a very strong and unpleasant smell.” (

Solvest Inc. has promised to spend $2.1 million on a new solar farm outside Whitehorse that will connect 4,000 solar panels to the Yukon’s power grid—offsetting the power used annually by 153 northern homes. (

Nunavummiut are now able to travel between their home territory and Churchill, Manitoba without self-isolating. The new travel bubble is “exclusive” to Churchill and does not extend to the rest of Manitoba. (
Nunavut News)

The bubble also arrives just as two presumptive cases of COVID-19 were announced at the Mary River Mine on Baffin Island. A presumed case of COVID earlier this month at the same mine turned out to be a negative. If confirmed by southern labs, these will be the first cases of the virus inside the territory. (
Nunavut News)

A pop-up park in downtown Yellowknife was
brought down this week, two years after it opened. The project was supposed to create new welcoming public spaces, but sat largely abandoned by its second summer in operation. The park’s planner, Thevishka Kanishkan, says liability problems got in the way of its success, but nevertheless, “the last thing you should be doing in the middle of a pandemic is taking apart outdoor gathering space.” (Cabin Radio)

The Alianait arts festival in Iqaluit now has its first Inuk executive director. Alannah Johnston was festival coordinator before taking on the big job. Not the best timing, of course, as the festival had to cancel this year because of the COVID pandemic. But Alianait hasn’t been sitting by idly. The festival has live-streamed concerts online, and Johnston says they’re working on other new ideas. “We’re looking ahead to 2021. And I’m really excited about it.” (

Only about eight per cent of polar bears will abandon their dens when disturbed by human activity, says a new study using decades of data. Which is bad news for industry because a large percentage of the dens also go undetected until it's too late: “It’s our belief that they’ll literally stay in there until they’re about to be run over or are run over.” (
Arctic Today)
An important piece of Alaska's history, left to rot. (Photo by Casey Grove/Alaska Public Media)


The Alaskan building where the state’s flag was designed and first flew is finally being torn down, nearly 60 years after it was abandoned following an earthquake. (KTOO)

A major food chain shift appears to be happening in the Arctic as sunlight floods spaces once obscured by ice sheets. (
Science Alert)

How the hunt for metals to build electric car batteries threatens Sami reindeer herders’ homeland. (
Barents Observer)

Now that COVID-19 has killed 2020's summer tourism season, scientists are hoping they’ll be able to find out how clean Alaska’s waters are when there aren't any cruise ships around. (
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