April 10, 2020

Quarantined Nunavummiut arrive home for Easter, and the Globe and Mail mixes up its territories. Plus, ice edge coins and a golden eagle murder mystery. All in this week’s Up Here newsletter.

Jans Kasparova took this sun-drenched shot on the road from Tuk for our reader photo contest. See all the winners in our March/April issue, and online Monday.


Well, we're still here. Still safe and healthy. Otherwise, not much in the news department this week. I should have something exciting to announce next week though, so stay tuned. In the meantime, happy Easter to you and yours.

Thanks for reading,
Jacob Boon 

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There's some local anger with the NWT’s policy of not identifying small communities with COVID-19 cases. “Your citing humanitarian ends for not informing a community will lead to the death of our elders,” Deninue K’ue First Nation Chief Louis Balsillie wrote in a letter this week to the territory's public health officer. The NWT’s fifth confirmed COVID-19 case was announced last week, but the community name wasn’t mentioned until Steve Norn, MLA for Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh, announced on Facebook that it was Fort Resolution.

The Yukon’s first small community case—the territory’s eighth overall—was also 
announced this week, but chief medical officer Brendan Hanley declined to name the town in question.

Meanwhile, Nunavut has said it
will identify communities with infected patients—should any arise—in order to lessen widespread panic. Health official Michael Patterson notes that if the location is not named, people in all 25 communities will feel the need to get tested and assessed at health centres, and the territory is simply not able to handle that surge of staffing and resources all at once. (Various)

The first wave of self-isolating Nunavummiut who were quarantining in hotels outside the territory will be coming home in time for Easter. The nearly 200 residents—and their pets—will start arriving this weekend. (

Nunavut has also
lit the beacons to call teachers back from self-isolation in the south. The territory wants them to return by April 21 to resume classes. (CBC)

All that separates the Northwest Territories from one of the country's most active COVID-19 hotspots—British Columbia—is an unmanned gate that’s a 30-minute drive from the community of Fort Liard. Leaders in the community say that's a problem. (

Yellowknife has suspended green bin collection due to social distancing (...?) so Ecology North has opened its own downtown compost bins for residents to dump their foodstuffs. (
Cabin Radio)

A new report by the Arctic Council found a 25 per cent increase in shipping through northern waters from 2013 to 2019. One of the busiest areas was Baffin Bay, due to the Mary River mine opening in 2014. (
The Royal Canadian Mint's new silver $50 coin commemorates Franklin's doomed expedition with a special jagged “ice edge.” (Coin Update)
Southern gold miners are still showing up in the Yukon and ignoring self-isolation rules. A group of eight from Saskatchewan arrived in town recently, and did go into isolation outside of Dawson, but not before heading to the grocery story. (The Narwhal)

Elsewhere in the Yukon, these neighbours are using pandemic time to bust out the bagpipes and Bhangra. (
Huffington Post)

The Globe and Mail illustrated a story about the Northwest Territories’ new COVID-19 public enforcement squad with… a five-year-old photo of Nunavut’s Legislature… “with the words Legislative Assembly of Nunavut
clearly visible in four different languages.” (Ollie Williams, via Twitter)

Last year, Wayfarer Oyster House in Whitehorse was named one of the best new restaurants by En Route magazine and Brian Ng was hailed by the Globe as one of Canada’s next top chefs. Not bad for an ex-government employee whose formal culinary training was working the grill section at Dairy Queen back in the day. (
Up Here)

Isolation can’t stop the jigging. An online contest happening in the Mackenzie Delta is filling in for those who can’t dance in cancelled celebrations like Fort McPherson’s Peel River Jamboree. (
Cabin Radio)

Yellowknife’s salvage culture is more than a hobby; it’s a way to keep the city functioning. Keeping things out of the dump is a necessary part of waste management, one that will be needed more and more as the garbage strategy of not-in-my-backyard shuts down. (
Up Here)

Amid the pandemic, amateur radio societies across the North are hamming it up. (
A colourful Easter map from the Arctic Atlas showing circumpolar “floristic provinces” (AKA geographic regions with uniform plant species) (Arctic Portal)


The Svalbard was uninhabited until humans came searching for resources 500 years ago. Historian Bathseba Demuth follows those “footprints of extraction.” (Hakai Magazine)

Golden eagles are one of the most protected species in Alaska—so what happens when one turns up dead in a Wyoming field? Chris Sweeney writes about “the wondrous life and mysterious death of Golden Eagle 1703.” (
The Guardian)

Iceland to Greenland and back again: an Arctic excursion is thrown into disarray by COVID-19. (
Backcountry Magazine)

Meanwhile, Finland, “prepper nation of the Nordics,” isn’t worried about face masks. “Unlike their neighbours, the Finns never stopped stockpiling after the Cold War. Now, Finland sits on an enviable supply of medical and survival gear in the COVID-19 era.” (
NY Times)

Porky’s volcano: The story of Alaska’s greatest April Fools’ Day prank includes a fake volcanic eruption and a very real tire fire. (
Anchorage Daily News)
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