July 25, 2019
Bear police, squirrel camp, and the Permafrost Express. All in this week's Up Here newsletter.
A red fox at the golden hour in Yellowknife. Courtesy Matthew Archer (via Instagram)


Early newsletter this week because I'm entertaining guests and we've got many a hike to fit in. It's also once again that time when we start brainstorming candidates for the magazine's Northerner of the Year and we want your input.

Nominations for a Northerner who made a difference in Canada and across the world over these past 12 months can be sent to Make sure to tell us a little bit about why you think your Northerner deserves the nomination. 

As always, thanks for reading,
Jacob Boon 

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The biggest story in Canada right now is the manhunt underway for Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky. The two teenagers are accused of killing a lecturer at the University of British Columbia and suspected in the murders of Chynna Deese and her Australian boyfriend, Lucas Fowler, whose bodies were found last week just south of the Liard Hot Springs.

Every day this case becomes more disturbing, but it’s also shown the ignorance of international media to Canadian geography. Major publications across the United Kingdom and the United States have continually
repeated the same, wildly inaccurate information that these murders along the Alaska Highway happened on British Columbia’s Highway of Tears—over 1,000 kilometres to the south.

“This is like if someone was killed in San Francisco and the CBC reported that a murder happened near Seattle,”
tweets Yukon News reporter Jackie Hong.

The best coverage on the ongoing situation has come from the CBC’s
Andrew Kurjata in Northern BC, who’s also diligently been correcting these foreign media outlets on their geography blunder. (Various)
New Nunatta Sunakkutaangit curator Jessica Kotierk (Up Here)
In the latest issue, editor Beth Brown profiles Jessica Kotierk, the new curator for Nunatta Sunakkutaangit, and her efforts to preserve and digitize the Iqaluit museum’s small—yet mighty—collection. “By nature, it’s good when you can do that in your own community. You want to think and talk about Iqaluit? Let’s do that here in Iqaluit.” (Up Here)

The final agreement for the Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve has been postponed while the territory, federal government, and Lutselk’e finalize details. The landmark protected area will include 26,376-square kilometres and a national park. But its development has come under fire recently from the Yellowknives Dene First Nation and the NWT Métis. (CBC)

A new study says Inuit from Northern Quebec are genetically unique from any other present-day population. Scientists mapped the genetic profile of 170 Nunavimmiut and compared that to genetic profiles from other Indigenous populations across the world. The results show Nunavik Inuit have a unique genetic structure that may date back to ancient Arctic populations. (RCI)

“We’re trying to get away from being thought of as bear police.” Spend an afternoon with the Yukon’s conservation officers. (Yukon News)

The time has come to reclaim Inuktut names for Nunavut's hamlets, says Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. There are still 14 municipalities in the territory that use English names, including Cambridge Bay, Rankin Inlet, and Cape Dorset. NTI president Aluki Kotierk is hoping those towns will consider a switch to their traditional monikers, with a little encouragement. “I thought this would also signal to Canada and even beyond that Inuit were reclaiming and asserting their language rights.” (Nunatsiaq)
 King of the mountain in Iqaluit. Photo by Katia D'argencourt (via Instagram)
Sea ice blown into Frobisher Bay is blocking shipments of construction material and holding up work on Iqaluit’s deep-sea port. But, on the plus side, strong selfie options. (CBC)

Trar or chout? Tyler Akeeagok thinks he’s netted an Arctic char/lake trout hybrid from a few kilometres east of Kugluktuk. (Nunavut News)

Widening the Alaska Highway is narrow-minded, writes Forest Pearson in an opinion piece for the CBC. At every stage of consultation the public has not supported this plan, says the environmental engineer and Whitehorse resident. Worse, the project will only lead to more traffic and more greenhouse gas emissions. (CBC)

“You spend a season or two at Squirrel Camp and it kind of steals a little piece of your heart and it never lets go.” (Up Here)

A week after I wrote about Huawei’s lightning-fast high-speed in the Faroe Islands, the Chinese telecom giant announced a plan to deploy 4G networks across dozens of remote Northern communities in Canada. They must have heard me. Anyway, spying probably won’t be as much a concern for consumers as the potential monopoly on telecoms thanks to Huawei’s cheap labour. (Canadian Press)
The new documentary, Picture of His Life, follows Amos Nachoum’s quest to capture a photo of a swimming polar bear in the Canadian Arctic. Photo by Amos Nachoum


Amos Nachoum has been on a lifelong quest to capture the first still photograph of a polar bear swimming in open water. Why would someone risk icy waters and apex predators for such a shot? His fellow divers have wondered. “We’ve all asked ourselves, ‘What is Amos’ story with the polar bear?’” A new documentary about Nachoum’s life follows the photographer’s traumatic story—from armed conflicts in Israel to becoming a “soldier of Mother Nature.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

Welcome to the Alaskan village where every cop has been convicted of domestic violence. The Anchorage Daily News teamed up with ProPublica for this investigation. (Anchorage Daily News/ProPublica)

The long-awaited Permafrost Express is ready for service, finally connecting Russia’s southern rail network to the Sakha Republic by running over some 900 kilometres of permafrost. And I do mean long-awaited. Construction on the rail line began under Stalin but has been planned for as far back as the tsarist era over a century ago (Siberian Times)

Norway is experiencing a bobiler boom (otherwise known as RVs). There are now 50,000 registered recreational vehicles on Norwegian roads—double the number from a decade ago. The rapid growth is straining campgrounds and traffic congestion. (News In English)

Vast swathes of the Arctic are burning. “Unprecedented” wildfires are wreaking ecological destruction on a colossal scale unseen in at least 10,000 years. Have a good weekend! (The Independent)
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