January 3, 2019

An artist in residence on the Chilkoot Trail, bidding on ice road trucker auctions, and facial recognition for salmon.

Katelyn Luff captured this caribou in a wintery wonderland. (via Instagram)


Happy 2020 everyone. It's a short newsletter this week as the office creaks back into full production. Our January/February travel special is on newsstands now and should be arriving to subscribers soon. Look for content from the issue online at starting next week. In the meantime, let's check out some of the stories happening in the circumpolar world over the past two weeks...

Thanks for reading,
Jacob Boon 

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The biggest story in the North over the holidays was the tragic loss of singer/songwriter Kelly Fraser. The pop artist died by suicide on Christmas Eve at the age of 26.

“Kelly suffered from PTSD for many years as a result of childhood traumas, racism and cyber bullying. She was actively seeking help and spoke openly about her personal challenges online and through her journey,” said a statement issued by Fraser’s family. “She was fiercely open with her fans in the hopes that sharing her struggles might help them know they were not alone.”

Fraser had been performing music for several years, but it was her 2013 Inuktitut cover of Rihanna’s “Diamonds” that went viral and helped her name become known to a
wider audience. Her 2017 album, Sedna, was nominated for a Juno award as Indigenous Music Album of the Year. A CBC documentary about Fraser’s life and journey, released in 2018, can be viewed here

The news of her loss has brought an outpouring of grief from fans, friends, and industry peers over the past two weeks. The Nunavut Sivuniksavut college program,
Senator Murray Sinclair, Folk on the Rocks, the Indigenous Music Awards, and many, many more have all issued statements of condolences on Fraser's passing. Meanwhile, a crowd-funding campaign to help her family and siblings cover memorial and travel costs, set at an initial goal of $5,000, has so far raised nearly $43,000. (Various)
Kelly Fraser, pictured here receiving the 2019 Inuk Youth Indspire Award. (Photo by Candice Ward Photography)

Twenty years ago, the world’s attention turned to Kangiqsualujjuaq, Nunavik after a New Year’s Eve avalanche hit a school, killing nine and injuring many more. Reporter Jane George reflects on covering the tragedy in her continuing series of Like an iceberg columns. (A Date With Siku Girl)

Want to be an ice road trucker? The defunct Tli Cho Landtran Transport fleet, assets, and a freight contract with Diavik Diamond Mines are all up for sale at auction after the transportation company's insolvency last month. Over 230 trucks, trailers, equipment and a cement hauling contract for the diamond mine (which will run until 2024) are all available for purchase. (Freight Waves)

Does the sky look like the inside of a seal’s stomach? Qiaqaqtuq is an Inuktitut word for ‘partly cloudy’ inspired by the appearance of a membrane inside a seal’s digestive system. It’s one of many Inuit weather words rarely used today, says Arctic Bay elder Tommy Tatatoapik. (CBC)

No internet, no bed and no studio. Welcome to the Chilkoot Trail’s Artist in Residence program. (Yukon News)

For 20 years, John Koadloak has shared a shack with his wife, Mercie, and their dog, more than 150 kilometres from the nearest community on the Nunavut-Northwest Territories border. Now, climate change is threatening this family's isolated way of life. (CBC)

Driving north is the best way to see a brilliant, beautiful part of Canada. Saskatoon Star Phoenix reporter Alex MacPherson visited Yellowknife this past summer on a northern road trip and wrote about the experience for his paper’s year end edition. I actually met Alex during his stay (through mutual friend and former Up Here editor Jeremy Warren), and we all went on that fly-in fishing trip he describes in the piece. ’Twas a fun day out. (Star Phoenix)

From orphaned moose to a feisty swan, CBC North has collected its top animal stories of 2019. (CBC)

Map maker Richard Edes Harrison dubbed this piece, “One World, One War.”


It was the map that remade an empire. In 1942, Richard Edes Harrison produced a map of the world that was uniquely centred around the Arctic, and it ended up influencing foreign and military policy to this day. Suddenly, America wasn’t separated from Asia and Europe by great oceans. It was a short plane ride over the pole. Joseph Goebbels used Harrison’s map as evidence the US was intending to conquer the world. When the United Nations was founded at the end of World War II, it adapted Harrison’s map for its logo. (Mother Jones)

Speaking of World War II, did you know the tiny town of Ivittuut, Greenland helped the Allied forces win thanks to a massive reserve of naturally occurring cryolite—a mineral used to manufacture fighter planes? (Smithsonian)

Norwegian salmon can, apparently, be identified via facial recognition software. Fishing farm Cermaq will use the biometric scanning tech at its iFarm project to recognize and identify individual fish and then sort the animals for any health or welfare needs. (Planet Biometrics)

Finally, it's climate change, Greenland, and shifting geopolitics in this year-end roundup of the top Arctic stories of 2019. (Arctic Today)
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