October 18, 2019
Election news in the North! Plus, Inuit monsters, porcupines vs. curious dogs, Greta Thunberg declines an NWT invitation, and Greenland’s turning purple.

Campers on Great Slave Lake's East Arm. (Photo by Pat Kane, for Up Here)


The November issue of Up Here has shipped from the printer and should be on newsstands and out to subscribers next week. In this special arts issue, we explore the social fabric of northern knitting, examine southern Canada's history of claiming northern art for its own national identity, and profile some of the rising artistic stars across the territories. Be sure to check it out.

As always, thanks for reading,
Jacob Boon 

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Mercifully, the federal election is almost over. Not that it’s been a particularly notable campaign for northerners. “The silence is deafening” on Arctic issues, says 
Monica Ell-Kanayuk, Canadian chapter president of the Inuit Circumpolar Council. CBC's Eye On The Arctic also wrote about a study from the University of Quebec’s Arctic Policy and Security Observatory which performed a, to be frank, shallow data crunch on candidates’ tweets—finding only seven out of 40,000 social media posts mentioned the word ‘Inuit.’ It’s not exactly a substantive analysis of policy. Elsewhere, former Up Here editor Herb Mathison writes about distance, cost, and weather: the unique challenges of running in a northern riding. Also, Inuit artists aren’t pleased with Elizabeth May's continual opposition to the seal trade. (CBC)

From wood pulp to steel cables, scientists are trying everything as they study how to make ice roads last longer. (Canadian Press)

National Geographic has a feature all about “How millennial Inuit sparked a musical movement.” Several of the young artists featured in the story—including Kelly Fraser, Riit, and FxckMr—can also be found in our November arts special. (National Geographic)

Shannon Harvey is the latest server from Whitehorse’s Gold Pan Saloon to have the artwork of beloved Yukon artist Jim Robb tattooed on her body. Harvey tells CBC she used to serve Robb “almost every day” and developed the idea to tattoo some of his artwork across her back. “It's wearable art for me...I just get to take my favourite things around with me, on my body.” (CBC)

Buying modular homes from China won’t help Nunavut’s housing crisis, says community services minister Lorne Kusugak. Iqaluit-Manirajaq MLA Adam Arreak Lightstone inquired this week in the territory’s legislature if the GN could construct homes the same way Iqaluit’s new Aqsarniit Hotel is being built: via ready-made rooms imported from Shanghai. Kusugak shot down the idea as it would take away from local contractors. (CBC)

For decades, establishing a park in Canada meant removing Indigenous people from their traditional territories. But, writes journalist Jimmy Thomson, in Canada’s newest national park—Thaidene Nëné—the Łutsel K’e Dene will hunt, fish, work as guardians, and show off their land to tourists. (The Narwhal)

Inuit stories are rich with tales of terrible monsters—of giants and demons, shapeshifters and sea beasts. Retelling those cautionary tales is a scary tradition being kept alive by a new generation of artists. (Up Here
The Nanurluk is a ferocious polar bear the size of an iceberg that lives beneath the sea...or so it's said. (Courtesy Eva Widermann/Inhabit Media)

It’s unlikely teenage climate leader Greta Thunberg will accept an unsolicited invitation to visit the Northwest Territories, reports Northern News Service Ltd. Kind of hard to make the trip when you don’t fly or travel in non-electric vehicles. (NNSL)

Cambridge Bay will postpone a public vote on whether to change its name. A plebiscite on rebranding the community back to its original Innuinnaqtun moniker had been planned this month for the town's October 28 municipal election. The non-binding vote was postponed after elders suggested five different spellings—Ekaloktotiak, Ekaluktutiak, Ikaluktutiak, Iqaluluqtuutiak, and Iqaluqtuuttiaq. Cambridge Bay is currently named for Prince Adolphus, the Duke of Cambridge and uncle of Queen Victoria. (Nunatsiaq)

It was just over a year ago that Jaya the dog ran after something she saw in the bush. That’s how she ended up with 90 quills in her face and mouth. “I’d say it was a nightmare in the moment,” says Jaya’s owner, Scott Letkeman. Thankfully, CBC has put together this handy guide for “What to do if your pup gets quilled by a porcupine.” (CBC)

In his new book, In Those Days: Shamans, Spirits, and Faith in the Inuit North, author Kenn Harper shares tales of Inuit and Christian beliefs in the 19th and 20th centuries. Both how they came to coexist, and how they sometimes clashed against each other. An excerpt from the book, published this month by Inhabit Media, is at the link. (Canadian Geographic)

Baffinland Iron Mines hasn’t received approval to start building a railroad for its Mary River iron mine, but that hasn’t stopped the company from transporting railway materials to the site over the summer. While official notice about the import was sent to regulators last year, Pond Inlet residents only found out when the massive sealift arrived in port. Locals say the move signals Baffinland is assuming pre-approval of the project. (Nunatsiaq)

Betty Bird and her best friend Janelle Mercredi were only 15 when they met in Fort Smith. They became instant friends and were soon inseparable. For the last 33 years, though, Bird has been left wondering how her best friend was murdered and where she was buried. Now, the NWT Justice department has found some answers. (CBC)

A partnership between the Délįne Got’ine Government and the Beijing Best tour company was announced with aplomb last year but never got off the ground, “and nobody really seems to know what happened.” (CBC)

Sweeping away dirt and peat one brushstroke at a time, a team of researchers on Ellesmere Island’s Strathcona Fiord are patiently, painstakingly revealing a four-million-year-old forest preserved in the permafrost. (Canadian Geographic)

Photographer Acacia Johnson took this shot in Arctic Bay. (Photo by Acacia Johnson)


Greenland’s becoming more purple. Glacier algae are darkening the country’s ice surface to progressively more violet shades. The European Research Council is dedicating several million dollars and the next six years to researching how these blooms will exasperate the already melting ice sheets. (Scitech Europa)

It takes three flights just to get from Anchorage to Shishmaref, Alaska. It’s a place of ice and tundra on the very northwest tip of the continent. “But this guy showed up in neon-colored rain gear with hippie jewelry and zero explanation of why he was there. And he couldn’t really tell us—he only spoke Japanese.” Read on about “an unlikely racial clash” in a remote Alaskan village. (Sound Effect)

Elsewhere in the Last Frontier state, an escaped goat continues to elude capture. “He’s very savvy,” says animal control operations manager Sandy Hill. Officers are hoping to utilize social media sighting to “gently herd” the goat into an area with natural barriers, but the public is divided. “There’s people rooting for the goat and people who have ideas for capture.” (Associated Press)

Recognize the photo below? It’s the eastern edge of Whitefish Lake in the Northwest Territories. The infrared shot from the latest US geological survey shows the lake in copper on the right. The tundra shows up in blue. Check out more colourful pics of the “Earth as Art” at the link. (Daily Mail)
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