November 15, 2019

Dawson City says goodbye to its sourtoe cocktail pioneer. Plus, Nunavut’s new MP makes a statement, redefining “polar” and herding reindeer by drone.

Captain Dick Stevenson, the inventor of the sourtoe cocktail. (via Facebook)


Fresh off the presses, it's our special Northerners of the Year retrospective. In honour of the magazine's 35th anniversary, our publishers put together this special commemorative issue of all 32 past Northerners who've been profiled in our annual end-of-the-year issue: “Musicians, authors, community activists, politicians, dynasties are just some of the worthy Northerners profiled in this little volume.”

You can purchase your own copy by clicking
right here. And be sure to watch out for this year's Northerner of the Year when our December issue arrives in a couple of weeks. 

As always, thanks for reading,
Jacob Boon 

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Pour a shot out for Captain Dick Stevenson. The inventor of the Yukon’s famous sourtoe cocktail has passed away at the age of 89. Following instructions in Stevenson’s will, his toes will be removed, dried and brought to Dawson City. “As a matter of fact, I’m just on my way downtown,” daughter Dixie Stevenson tells CBC. “I have to buy containers and pickling salt.” (

Don’t ask Mumulaaq Qaqqaq what it feels like being one of the youngest MPs in the country. “Are we asking male representatives over 30 about their age and their experience and how it feels to be a man walking into Parliament?” she asks reporter Teresa Wright. “I doubt it.” The Canadian Press profiles Nunavut’s new NDP MP. (National Post)

“How the fierce and compassionate Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory shifted my perspective on Canada.” In the Making visits the uncompromising Inuk artist at her home in Iqaluit. You can stream the full episode on the public broadcaster’s Gem app, or read an essay by Bathory's artistic collaborator Evalyn Parry at the link. (CBC)

Apparently, there are a lot more worms in Yukon soil than scientists previously thought—mostly because “many areas of the Yukon remain unsampled.” Fun fact dug up by this research paper; half of the “pot worm” species found in Alaska are common to Siberia—meaning the little dudes probably shuffled over eons ago via the Bering Land Bridge. (Research Gate)

Chipewyan Dene designer Tichna Marlowe is the first Indigenous fashion designer to be showcased on the catwalk at Montreal’s international Cosmopolitan Fashion Week. She’s actually been invited more than once, but this was the first time the well-known northern designer could take part. “The world is watching us,” she tells CBC about the Indigenous art renaissance. “They want to hear our music, they want to see our art.” (CBC)

Speaking of, if you haven’t already, check out the profiles from our latest issue on just some of the North’s rising artistic stars: Filmmaker Nyla Innuksuk brings sci-fi horror to Nunavut; Tunchai Redvers takes a cue from fireweed for her first book of poetry; Jeneen Frei Njootli wants you to hear how loud an antler’s song can be; Iqaluit hip-hop artist FXCKMR’s prose features both life and death; and Lianne Marie Leda Charlie is on an artistic mission of hot pink politics. (Up Here)

Tunchai Redvers delves deep into her own history in her first collection of poems—all starkly evocative of the experience the 25-year-old from Hay River and Yellowknife had growing up as part of the Deninu K’ue First Nation and as a Two-Spirit person.

A clarification from last week’s newsletter item on the Baffinland expansion implosion. The refusal of QIA to endorse the mining company’s proposal wasn’t caused by Oceans North digging up private info that seemed to show Baffinland was telling regulators a different story than potential investors. QIA is actually objecting to a host of other cultural and land-use issues. Likewise, the Nunavut Impact Review Board’s decision to adjourn Baffinland’s public hearings came from the inadequate technical information released for public comment. “Rather than providing a complete picture of the full scope of the project and its ultimate impact on the region, the incremental or ‘phased’ approach to requesting change after change after change has only served to cause confusion and frustration,” Tununiq MLA David Qaminiq said last week in the Legislature.

The attack seared images in 17-year-old Alex Messenger’s brain: A gigantic grizzly paw hitting his head, knocking him down. The bear’s jaws clamping down on his thigh. Messenger survived the attack, which occurred during a 600-mile canoe trip through the NWT, and now, years later, he's written a memoir on the experience of what it's like going face-to-face with a grizzly. (MPR)

Sea ice is a “complex organism quickly moving toward extinction,” says explorer and photographer Jill Heinerth, who filmed footage tracking icebergs from Greenland down the coast of Baffin Island for The Nature of Things. You can watch the documentary, entitled Under Thin Ice, at the link. (CBC)


Are the similarities of climate, snow and certain mammals sufficient enough to make the Arctic and Antarctic considered a single object of study or governance? Put another way, “is there anything natural about the polar?” This Cambridge University research paper ultimately concludes the creation of “polar identity” was more geopolitics than geology. It also posits the concept of a “tripolar” world, where high alpine regions are included with the Arctic and Antarctic. (Cambridge University Press)

Denmark and Iceland are clashing over a priceless collection of medieval manuscripts, previously bequeathed by an Icelandic scholar to the University of Copenhagen 300 years ago. (Al Jazeera)

Even visiting the Arctic in virtual reality can be a life-changing experience. A new study says immersive digital Arctic environments can reduce chronic pain for patients. Researchers at Imperial College London think the VR’s sensory input may trick the brain’s nerve responses, resulting in less sensitivity and a reduction in the overall intensity of ongoing pain. (RCI)

A tiny Thai food restaurant in a remote Greenlandic town is serving up spice (and whale skin soup). “A fresh-caught Arctic redfish… bubbles in a deep fryer on one of the counters. Siripen says this fish will be served up with a curry sauce. ‘This one is Panang sauce,’ she says, but complains that she will have to use canned coconut milk. ‘In Greenland, no have coconut tree.’” (NPR)

The biggest challenge in herding reindeer by drone in Iceland is the distance involved. Drones run out of battery juice in the cold too quickly to shepherd herds across their vast grazing areas. But a new gas-powered prototype could be the trick: “You could call (it) a highly developed herding dog.” (Iceland Monitor)

Norway has the secret to enjoying a long, dark, very cold winter—change your mindset. Norwegians view winter as “something to be enjoyed, not something to be endured.” (Fast Company)
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