April 24, 2020

There's hope for COVID-19 recovery in the territories, debating Nunavut’s greatest athlete, and relocating a sinking house from the Arctic coast during a pandemic. Plus, narwhal family trees, lunar habitats in Greenland, and remote control tours of the Faroe Islands. All in this week’s Up Here newsletter.

Lenora Barrett Photography took this image of NWT RCMP officers commemorating those lost last weekend in Nova Scotia. (via Instagram)


The biggest news story in the country this week was the horrific mass shooting in Nova Scotia. Watching the news about my home province from afar has been frustrating, both for me and I'm sure all the other Nova Scotians spread out across the North. My heart goes out to all those impacted, and a giant thank you to the emergency crews who responded to this tragedy and the journalists working in a pandemic to cover this story. Be safe out there and hug someone you love if you can.

Jacob Boon 


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One of those killed in what’s now Canada’s worst mass shooting was Lillian Hyslop, a former Yukoner who once worked for the territorial government and kept a dog team at her rural Whitehorse property. Other Nova Scotians across the territories paid tribute to the shooting victims this week with acts of solidarity; lighting candles, keeping porch lights on and flying flags at half-mast. Patti Boudreau, originally from Antigonish, Nova Scotia, flew the provincial flag in Gjoa Haven, Nunavut where she now lives. (Various)

Some good coronavirus news in the North this week as all confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the NWT and the Yukon have recovered. As Jane Sponagle reports, however, the two territories define “recovered” differently. (

The first COVID-19 patient in the Northwest Territories has also come forward to share their story of recovery: “When I got the phone call that I had tested negative twice and could rejoin the family, I burst out of my room and sprinted with a lot of yelling and hollering,” the patient told Cabin Radio. “It was one of the best days of my life to hold my wife and children again.” (
Cabin Radio)

How does coronavirus connect to climate change? Yellowknife emergency doctor Courtney Howard says we need to all be prepared for future pandemics overlapping with increasing rates of natural disasters: “Imagine if the Australian wildfires had happened a couple of months later.” (
The Narwhal)

Meanwhile, climate change is also affecting Arctic stream slime, AKA “the complex matrices of algae, fungi, and bacteria—sometimes called microbial skin.” (

Mineral staking in the Peel Watershed was off-limits for nearly a decade, but now industrial development in a portion of the vital wilderness lands is being permitted—with strict limitations. (
The Narwhal)
A house is tugged along the ice behind Tuktoyaktuk's sign for the Arctic Ocean. (Photo by Erin Felix, via CBC)
Don't like moving? Try relocating your sinking house during a pandemic. The world may be shut down but coastal erosion in Tuktoyaktuk isn’t taking a break. (CBC)

Who’s the Greatest Nunavut Athlete of All Time? Nunavut News has drawn up the contenders for discussion, including Jordin Tootoo, Drew Bell, and famed dog musher Andy Attagutalukutuk. (

Need something northern to watch in quarantine? The Yukon Film Society has updated its streaming site, Available Light On Demand. The service now features 21 Yukon-made films, ranging from documentaries to thrillers and animation. More than half are available to watch right now for free. (
The Yukon News)

An American plane was unexpectedly grounded in Iqaluit after being denied entry to Greenland. The five crew members are being confined to a hotel with security. Nunavut is still the only province or territory in Canada yet to register a case of COVID-19. (

...And that’s all the more reason to be vigilant. The wildfire spread of COVID-19 has hit crowded places like nursing homes, cruise ships, and prisons the worst. And it could similarly sweep the crowded homes in which nearly half of Nunavummiut live, writes Michelle Cohen. (

Dominion Diamond Mines has
filed for insolvency protection and “all bets are off” as the company tries to guard its finances during an economic crisis. Diamond mines in the North have largely remained exempt from government travel restrictions due to their “economic importance.” (CBC)

If those mines do close, either because of health concern or the economic downturn happening globally, former industry minister Dave Ramsay says the results will be catastrophic. “If we don’t have mining here in the NWT, we don’t have much of an economy.” (

If you want to learn about your ancestry, writes Sarah Cox, you can spit into a test-tube and retrieve the DNA results a month later online. It’s a little more complicated for narwhal family histories. A new study collected samples of narwhal tusks from Inuit hunters in Canada, and even from the King of Denmark’s throne. (
The Narwhal, fittingly)

Greenland wants a say in Baffinland’s expansion plans. The environmental impact of the Mary River iron mine’s expansion isn't limited to north Baffin Island or Canadian waters, says Greenland’s directorate of environment. (

The Arctic is greening, and bird populations are declining. Is there a link? (
Barents Observer)
An artist's rendering of the lunar habitat in Greenland. (SAGA Space Architects)


Two architects are building a habitat “inspired by origami” in northern Greenland where they'll attempt to live for three months in isolation as proof of concept that their design will work on the moon. (Business Insider)

When Travel Restrictions Lift, I’m Hopping A 32-Hour Flight to Alaska.” Daydreaming about the Arctic, and the days when we’ll once again be able to travel. (

Speaking of, since you can’t visit the Faroe Islands right now, why not let a remote control person guide you around virtually? (
The Guardian)

An Alaskan Indigenous organization is suing Neiman Marcus over the fashion company's $2,500 Ravenstail coat, the design of which the group says unfairly steals from Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian culture. (
City News)

“The only thing more mysterious than what exactly went wrong that day is what the sub was doing in a thousand feet of water just 60 nautical miles east of Norway in the first place.” The New York Times and the Barents Observer team up for this feature on “A Deep-Diving Sub. A Deadly Fire. And Russia’s Secret Undersea Agenda.” (
NY Times)
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