(CBC News via Eye on the Arctic, 8 April 2013) -- The principal of Peter Pitseolak High School in Cape Dorset, a community in Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut, is trying to improve arts programming in the school. Mike Soares says he was surprised to find that arts were not a strong subject in the school when he arrived in the hamlet three years ago since Cape Dorset is famous around the world for Inuit art. “It had pretty much got to the point where art was just paint by numbers,” he said. He says he has a good reason to try to turn that around. “Some of our students over the years have left school because they’ve found that they can produce art and sell it and then school becomes less important, in the same way that in Fort McMurray kids might leave school to go work in the oil patch,” said Soares. Almost half the kids have a carver in their family. Soares has been working with a foundation willing to pay local artists to come and work in the school. Last week, some grade 11 students met with Wen Xie, a Chinese jade carver who was in town for a month to work with other artists. Xie said he feels that students are interested when he talks about the history of carving in China. “I know a lot of kids, like 13, 14, also younger, like 11 years old, they don’t come to school, but they do some soapstone carving. I try to find them to bring them here. I really want to find them,” said Xie. Soares is also working with the National Art Gallery and the Northwest Company to repatriate some works of art so that he can put them on display in the school and inspire others.
Posted 14 April 2013; 2:20:32 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 21 March 2013) -- Over the next couple of days, residents of Iqaluit may see pedestrians carrying some strange-looking equipment on their backs. They’re members of a team working for Google Maps to photograph the city for Google Street View. Team members wear a backpack called a trekker, which has a camera system mounted on it to capture 360-degree street level images. Chris Kalluk, who works with Nunavut Tunngavik in the land department in Cambridge Bay, is one of the trekker operators. "I want more people to be able to visit here without leaving their homes,” he said. “Also to be able to see the place before they come up. They'd have an essential feeling of what it's like up here before they actually move up here or come visit." Kalluk said he's excited to be part of Google's first winter visit to Nunavut. Last summer, the company was in Cambridge Bay taking photos there for Street View. The Google team will be in Iqaluit until Sunday.
Posted 22 March 2013; 9:01:15 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 11 March 2013) -- Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced a final Northwest Territories devolution deal at the territory's legislature in Yellowknife today. "Negotiators have reached a consensus on the terms of a final devolution agreement," Harper said. The final agreement, as it stands, gives the Northwest Territories more control over its natural resources — it stands to get half the money collected from oil, minerals and diamonds. Based on last year's numbers, that would have added about $69 million to the territory's budget. Five of the territory's seven aboriginal groups signed a consensus document, including Nellie Cournoyea, a former N.W.T. premier and the current chair of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation. "Being part of the agreement, then we're able to ensure we can work together with what we received in our land claims agreement. So it gives us a parity with the territorial government," she said. Harper called it a historic day and applauded the territorial government led by Premier Bob McLeod. He also made a note that the final agreement will not be signed just yet. "Before this agreement is signed, our government will do its part to consult with all impacted aboriginal groups," he said. Lastly, Harper said, "It is time for the people of the Northwest Territories to take control of their destiny."
Posted 11 March 2013; 4:32:54 PM. Permalink
(CBC e, 6 March 2013) -- Ottawa has signed a $288 million contract for the design of new Arctic offshore patrol ships as part of its shipbuilding procurement project. The federal government and J.D. Irving signed a 30-month planning and engineering definition contract that will establish what ships to build and how to build them. The contract with Irving Shipbuilding of Halifax was announced by Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose on Thursday. Neither would say how many Arctic patrol ships would be built under the deal. The original estimate was between six and eight. The contract is expected to support up to 200 jobs in Nova Scotia. Irving said there will be an additional 75 jobs in other provinces. Ambrose said the design contract will ensure that construction of the ships can begin once the build contract is signed. Construction of the vessels is expected to begin in 2015.
Posted 10 March 2013; 7:26:24 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 8 March 2013) -- The Tlicho Government will formally sign on to the N.W.T.’s devolution agreement-in-principle at a ceremony today at 3:30 p.m. in Behchoko. The Tlicho are the last aboriginal group with a settled land claim to sign on to the agreement to transfer control of public land and resources from the federal government to the N.W.T. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected in Yellowknife on Monday, and it is anticipated he will announce a final devolution agreement has been reached. However, the final agreement won't be signed right away as the territorial government still plans to do community consultations before sealing the deal.
Posted 10 March 2013; 7:22:01 PM. Permalink
(Nunatsiaq News, 4 March 2013) -- The federal electoral district of Abitibi-James Bay-Nunavik-Eeyou keeps its name and gains two new communities in the south. That’s according to a new map of the riding released last week by the federal Electoral Boundaries Commission. The independent commission proposes every 10 years, following a national census, how to redistribute Canada’s federal ridings to reflect population changes in Canada. After this redistribution, there will be 338 seats in the House of Commons. The commission’s recommendations for change don’t affect Nunavut, which, like the other two territories, keeps its own riding. The commission had first suggested that the name of the riding that includes Nunavik should change from Abitibi-Baie James-Nunavik-Eeyou to Abitibi-Nunavik, but its proposal doesn’t call for a separate riding for the Nunavik region, something Nunavik has lobbied for since 1972. “The redistribution of boundaries of federal electoral districts by which the territory of Nunavik would fall under two electoral districts do not take into consideration community of interest and identity,” stated a resolution passed last September at a meeting of the Kativik Regional Government councillors in Kuujjuaq. The commission said its main goal is to set boundaries so each riding would contain roughly the same number of people — 101,321 — for all of Quebec’s 78 federal ridings.
Posted 4 March 2013; 4:34:31 PM. Permalink
(David Pugliese/Ottawa Citizen, 3 March 2013) -- OTTAWA — Conservative government budget cuts are forcing Canada’s army to scale back activities in the Arctic and cease training in other areas such as deserts and mountains, according to documents obtained by the Citizen. The army is bearing the brunt of cuts to the Canadian Forces and will see its budget reduced by 22 per cent over the next several years. The budget will drop from $1.5 billion to just under $1.2 billion by 2015. The reductions will affect how the army trains as well as its operations. The decision to scale back on Arctic missions flies in the face of the Conservative government’s high-profile efforts to increase the military’s presence in the North. The army, however, indicates it has no other choice as it is struggling with the excessive price tag of operating in the Arctic. “Recent Northern exercises and operations highlight the fact that conduct of these activities can cost from five to seven times more than if they were conducted in Southern Canada,” noted the Jan. 31 planning document from army commander Lt.-Gen. Peter Devlin. “The Army will have to limit/reduce the scope of its activities in the North, thus directly impacting on Canada’s ability to exercise Arctic sovereignty.” The document, to provide direction on how the army will conduct its business this year and next, was leaked to the Citizen.
Posted 4 March 2013; 4:19:13 PM. Permalink
(Mia Bennett/Foreign Policy Blogs via Eye on the Arctic via Alaska Dispatch, 12 February 2013) -- Australia and the Arctic aren't often mentioned in the same sentence. One tends to hear more about Australia and Antarctica, since the country has an Antarctic Division and carries out scientific research at the icy continent not so far away from Tasmania. But I think that a comparison of Australia and the Arctic, particularly the Northern Territory (NT) and the Canadian Arctic, is a fruitful one. When I came across an Economist article on the NT from last September entitled "Northern lights," I began thinking about the lands under the Aurora Borealis and Australis. Both Australia and the Arctic seen as exotic and remote, albeit at opposite ends of the earth. The NT constitutes Australia's landmass but contains only one percent of the population. Canadian territories, which make up 39.5 percent of the country's land, are similarly sparsely populated, with only 100,000 people (0.3 percent of the population). Both the NT and Canada's territories are resource-rich frontiers with large indigenous populations. The indigenous populations in the NT and in northern Canada, particularly Nunavut, are a higher percentage of the overall population than in the rest of Australia and Canada, respectively. Yet although both regions are in countries that enjoy some of the world's highest living standards, they are relatively underdeveloped hinterlands.
Posted 20 February 2013; 11:20:25 PM. Permalink
(CBC News via Eye on the Arctic, 20 February 2013) -- A Yukon biologist says ptarmigan and gyrfalcon populations could be in decline across Canada's northwestern Yukon territory. Dave Mossop says the fluctuations in these two "key" species could be a sign of greater trouble across the food chain. Both populations usually peak in a 10-year cycle but recent bird surveys do not indicate a peak as expected. Mossop says the unexpected change in the cycle could be a result of climate change or other factors. "For the last cycle yes, it declined, for reasons that we don't understand," says Mossop. "But the great hope is that things will re-establish themselves. The 10-year cycle in the boreal system is one of the most obvious things that's happening, and for some reason it faltered. That's kind of where we are now." Mossop says gyrfalcons depend on ptarmigan as a source of food and that the predatory birds will stop breeding when there aren't enough ptarmigan to eat. He says the Yukon Research Centre has access to a database on arctic birds which dates 50 years. Mossup says tracking willow ptarmigan and gyrfalcons is important because the birds are respectively at the bottom and top of the food chain. ... Mossup has studied birds for 40 years. He says he is not certain the birds' decline is irreversible. Still he says it is a curious anomaly in what is usually a well-balanced natural system. "For the ptarmigan, it won't dissapear. But those wonderful peaks we've seen in the past, we're hoping they will restablish themselves. But over the broad scale, so far we haven't seen it happen."
Posted 20 February 2013; 11:13:28 PM. Permalink
(CP via Alaska Dispatch, 19 February 2013) -- It's time to rethink the blimp, a Canadian House of Commons committee suggests in a new report. Airships are often associated with the Hindenberg crash of the 1930s, and their development was overtaken by that of the airplane, reducing their use in recent years mostly to props in ad campaigns. But there's room for certain kinds of them to play a new role in Canada, especially when it comes to reaching remote communities in the North, the transportation committee recommended in a recently released report. "Hybrid air vehicles may one day provide a superior solution, as they can travel over snowfall, frozen water or impenetrable terrain, and require no roads or rail installations to operate," says the report. The committee's look at airships was part of a broader study examining more creative ways to address some of the shortfalls in Canada's transportation sector. When it comes to airships, a number of barriers exist to putting them into more widespread use, the committee heard. Among them is a lack of infrastructure, trained personnel and licensing regimes, said Barry Prentice, a professor at the University of Manitoba and president of ISO Polar Airships, a research institute that promotes the use of the vehicles. His was one of two groups that testified before the committee. Prentice is adamant the time to start developing those capabilities is now.
Posted 19 February 2013; 9:53:07 PM. Permalink
(CBC News via Eye on the Arctic, 18 February 2013) -- hough leaders in Canada's North are mixed on how effective John Duncan was as Canada's minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, some feel his resignation may cause delays in files such as the Northwest Territories devolution. Duncan resigned from cabinet Friday over contacting a tax court judge on behalf of a constituent. He will continue to serve as Member of Parliament for Vancouver Island North. James Moore, minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, will be the acting aboriginal affairs minister until a new minister is named. Western Arctic MP Dennis Bevington said Duncan wasn't successful in dealing with First Nations issues. "With the scale and importance of those issues, that job needs a very dynamic and dedicated minister, and Mr. Duncan, who has gone through a period of health issues during his time as minister, I don't think was able to give the portfolio that kind of prominence in cabinet." He said the prime minister needs to choose a minister he has confidence in, and Bevington said he hopes a more senior cabinet minister is assigned to the portfolio. Bevington said Duncan's resignation could slow some bills before Parliament but he doesn't expect it to interfere with files, such as environment assessments, that the minister needs to sign off on. Dene National Chief Bill Erasmus said business for First Nations will continue as usual despite the resignation but their relationship with the federal government still needs improvements.
Posted 19 February 2013; 6:35:41 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 15 February 2013) -- Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan has resigned from cabinet, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Friday. Duncan will continue to serve as an MP for Vancouver Island North. Heritage Minister James Moore will become acting minister of aboriginal affairs and northern development until a new minister is named, Harper said in a statement released by email late Friday afternoon. Duncan was heavily criticized in 2011 for his handling of a housing crisis in the northern Ontario community of Attawapiskat. Duncan released a statement minutes after Harper's, in which he admitted to writing a reference letter for someone with a case in front of the Canada Revenue Agency. The letter was sent in June 2011 to the Tax Court of Canada. "While the letter was written with honourable intentions, I realize that it was not appropriate for me, as a Minister of the Crown, to write to the Tax Court. I have therefore offered my resignation as Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development to the Prime Minister, which he has accepted," Duncan said in the statement. "I take full responsibility for my actions and the consequences they have brought."
Posted 15 February 2013; 2:29:39 PM. Permalink
(CBC/Eye on the Arctic, 31 January 2013) -- Doctors from across Canada and Greenland are in Iqaluit this week to discuss tuberculosis in Nunavut. The territory continues to have the highest infection rates in Canada, with 100 cases in 2010, 74 in 2011 and 79 last year. Nunavut's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Maureen Baikie, said there are still a lot of TB cases in Nunavut. She said gathering experts together now will help improve the TB programs delivered in the territory. "For example, we've looked at the use of BCG vaccine, we're getting some advice on some of the new tests that are out there for TB. So all of it will be used as we examine our TB program," said Baikie. One of those programs is Taima TB, which started in Iqaluit in 2011 with Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated as a partner.
Posted 1 February 2013; 8:16:39 AM. Permalink
(National Post via Vancouver Sun, 17 January 2013) -- Dozens of communities in the country’s North, say hello to the iPhone — or BlackBerry Bold. BCE Inc.’s northern subsidiary, NorthwesTel, announced sweeping modernization plans for Canada’s northern parts Thursday that include rolling out third-generation or “3G” mobile services to 67 communities for the first time. This will be the most ambitious expansion of communications technology ever undertaken in Northern Canada In total, nearly a quarter of a billion dollars will be spent over the next five years deploying more advanced wireless services as well as doubling — and in some cases tripling — Internet speeds across the phone company’s copper network in the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. “This will be the most ambitious expansion of communications technology ever undertaken in Northern Canada,” the BCE unit said in a release. A filing was made Wednesday with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, which is holding a public consultation on the $233-million proposal. ... Spurred by the Ottawa’s aims to increase economic development across the region and guard the country’s sovereignty in the Arctic, the commission has made modernizing the North a priority. The CRTC plans to hold public hearings on the plan in June in Inuvik and Whitehorse.
Posted 19 January 2013; 7:21:27 PM. Permalink
(Nunatsiaq News, 18 January 2013) -- Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq, the federal minister responsible for the Arctic Council, is visiting Iceland, Denmark, Finland and Norway Jan. 14 to Jan. 22 to meet with government representatives, indigenous groups, and members of the business sector in each country, a news release said. The trip is to help prepare for Canada’s two-year chairmanship of the Arctic Council, which begins May 2013. The trip’s goal is to seek the views of Arctic Council states on “the themes Canada has set out for its chairmanship,” Aglukkaq said in the release. “Canada is committed to helping the North realize its true potential as a healthy, prosperous and secure region,” she said. ... The theme for Canada’s chairmanship will be: development for the people of the North, with sub-themes that include responsible Arctic resource development, safe Arctic shipping, and sustainable circumpolar communities. “The North is an integral part of our heritage, and holds tremendous promise for the future,” Aglukkaq said. She said there should be a greater focus on creating conditions in the North for economic growth, vibrant communities, and healthy ecosystems, she said. The trip will begin in Reykjavik, then goes on to Copenhagen and Helsinki before a final stop in Tromsø, Norway.
Posted 18 January 2013; 7:43:39 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 12 january 2013) -- World-renowned Inuk artist Kenojuak Ashevak died this morning at home in Cape Dorset, Nunavut, at age 85. Ashevak is considered a pioneer of Inuit art. Her drawings, prints and sculptures have been bought and displayed around the world. Her work has also been featured on several Canada Post stamps over the years, including her most famous print, Enchanted Owl. Ashevak was born in 1927 in a camp on Baffin Island and lived the traditional nomadic life on the land before settling in Cape Dorset. Okpik Pitseolak, an artist from Cape Dorset who knew Ashevak personally, said she brought Inuit art to the world but was "very humble about her work." Pitseolak said that when she appeared on the radio to talk about her art, she didn't want to come across "as someone who brags" about it. But she was "thankful for the fact that she was given this gift.” Ashevak died after a long battle with cancer. Director of Feheley Fine Arts Patricia Feheley, a Toronto dealer who handled Ashevak’s work, said she should be remembered as one of Canada’s great artists. ... Ashevak first became famous in her 20s, when the NFB film Kenojuak, made in 1962, showed her at work. She was creating drawings, prints and even sculptures in the 1960s. As her reputation grew, so did the reputation of Cape Dorset, the Inuit studio on Baffin Island that evolved into one of Canada’s most important artistic communities. ... Her legacy in Cape Dorset is “almost immeasurable,” Lalonde said. “She was so important to the print studio, the development of it – she influenced artists in the community to continue their artwork and become artists.”
Posted 14 January 2013; 3:02:57 PM. Permalink
(Ian Austin/New York Times, 12 January 2013) -- Kenojuak Ashevak, a once-nomadic artist from Canada's Arctic regions whose prints and drawings helped introduce Inuit art to much of the world, died on Tuesday at her home in Cape Dorset on West Baffin Island in the northern territory of Nunavut. She was 85. The cause was lung cancer, The Canadian Press news agency reported. Kenojuak as she was universally known, is probably best remembered for "The Enchanted Owl," a 1960 print showing an owl with wildly exaggerated feathers and a piercing stare. It became one of Canada's most famous works of art, appearing on a Canadian stamp in 1970 commemorating the centennial of the Northwest Territories.
Posted 14 January 2013; 2:32:33 PM. Permalink
(Bob Weber/The Canadian Press via Yahoo! News, 3 December 2012) -- Canada will use its two years as leader of the circumpolar world to promote development and defend its policies, suggest federal politicians and documents. But Arctic experts and those involved with the Arctic Council worry that's the wrong approach at a time when the diplomatic body is dealing with crucial international issues from climate change to a treaty on oil spill prevention. ... "The issues have just escalated when you look at what's happening now with climate change," said Mary Simon, one of the negotiators of the agreement that created the council and a former Canadian ambassador for circumpolar affairs. "Even the predictions that were (made) two years ago are way out. The Arctic is being looked at very differently by nations — not just the eight that make up the Arctic Council, but other nations such as China and Japan." Think-tanks including the Munk-Gordon Arctic Security Program and the Rideau Institute have urged an agenda that gets out in front of emerging issues. They've suggested that Canada could promote the protection of Arctic fisheries, the reduction of so-called black carbon — or soot — that accelerates the loss of sea ice and the adoption of mandatory safety standards for Arctic shipping. "All of the issues are pressing," said Michael Byers, a professor of international law and an Arctic expert at the University of British Columbia. "Nobody can afford for the Canadian chair to sit on our hands for two years." But a discussion paper circulated at meetings held across the North to gather input suggests that Canada's top priority will be development.
Posted 10 December 2012; 1:18:54 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 5 November 2012) -- The spring snow pack in the Arctic is disappearing at a much faster rate than anticipated even by climate change models, says a new study by Environment Canada researchers. That has implications for wildlife, vegetation and ground temperatures, say the scientists, who looked at four decades of snow data for the Canadian Arctic and beyond. Combined with recent news that the Arctic sea ice retreated to an all-time low this summer, it suggests climate change may be happening much faster than expected, said Dr. Chris Derksen, a research scientist for Environment Canada and one of the study's authors. "What we discovered was that there is a significant reduction in the amount of snow cover, particularly in May and June… and the rate of that decline is actually slightly faster than the loss of summer sea ice," Derksen said in an interview. They studied 40 years of data from across the Arctic from April to June, and found the decline in spring snow cover was actually slightly faster than the decline in sea ice that made headlines around the world.
Posted 5 November 2012; 2:35:43 PM. Permalink
(The Canadian Press via Yahoo! News, 17 October 2012) -- OTTAWA - The Harper government's much-heralded Arctic patrol ships will cost more to maintain because National Defence won't be signing a long-term service contract for the mini-icebreakers until the boats are well into construction. The ships are already 2-3 years behind, according to project schedules, and could fall further behind if contract talks with Irving Shipyard hit a snag. An internal briefing to former Associate Defence Minister Julian Fantino last fall noted the project was full of financial questions, starting with the actual price tag for building up to eight warships. The ships, first announced in 2007, were projected to cost $3.1 billion to build and $4.3 billion to maintain over their expected 25 year life cycle. But the presentation to Fantino shows a decision to "separately compete" the multi-billion dollar in-service contract "after the ships are in build" could have significant implications. Among other things, the delay in a support contract would "increase the cost of ownership," and design changes that might be incorporated into the system for ease of long-term maintenance won't get done.
Posted 28 October 2012; 12:39:24 PM. Permalink
(CBC North, 5 October 2012) -- The United States is again lobbying for an international ban on the trade of polar bear parts, after a previous attempt failed in 2010. Officials have submitted a proposal to reclassify the animals under Appendix I — as a species threatened with extinction — of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species or CITES. That would shut down the commercial trade of hides, teeth and claws. It would also effectively shut down international polar bear sport hunts. This is the second time the U.S. has tried to get a ban on the international trade of polar bear parts. In 2010, the first American proposal was defeated at a meeting in Qatar. Nunavut Tunngavik, the Nunavut land claims organization, is outraged by the move. "The polar bear population is very healthy right now and traditional knowledge says that the numbers are increasing,” said NTI vice-president James Eeteelook. Canada is home to about two-thirds of the world’s 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears. Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami president Terry Audla said he was disappointed by the American proposal.
Posted 12 October 2012; 11:46:10 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 12 October 2012) -- One man in Norman Wells is transforming his town into the potato capital of the N.W.T., harvesting 30,000 pounds of the vegetable this year from his farm about 130 kilometres south of the Arctic Circle. For seven years Doug Whiteman has experimented with fertilizers, frost, top soil and timing on three acres bordering a grass airstrip. The short growing season and cold temperatures make growing vegetables a challenge. Government grants have covered three quarters of the cost of the seeds and harvesting equipment but he’s spent thousands out of his own pocket and may finally make a profit this year. “The main thing is to show it is possible,” he said. “You always think of moose, caribou, berries — this is food from the land also.” His grandchildren help pick potatoes in the field, his daughter helps him sort and does sales while he’s away, and his son helps him with deliveries. Whiteman sells to residents and businesses, for whom fresh produce is a welcome change, and even to boats travelling along the Mackenzie River. Jeff Gilroy runs the Yamouri Inn in Norman Wells and goes through more than 100 pounds of potatoes a week. Buying locally saves the cost of shipping by air or winter road, as there is no all-season road to the town with a population of about 800.
Posted 12 October 2012; 11:44:55 AM. Permalink
(Government of Canada press release via Heritage Daily, 21 September 2012) -- The Honourable Peter Kent, Minister of Environment and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, today gave an update on this summer’s Arctic archaeological survey led by Parks Canada’s Underwater Archaeology Service to find the ill-fated 1845-1846 Franklin Expedition vessels: HMS Erebus and HMS Terror. “The search for the lost Franklin vessels continues, but I can unequivocally say that this year’s survey was by far our most successful one to date,” said Minister Kent. “I would like to congratulate all our amazing partners who were part of this Canadian-led research team. They reached new heights with this project, and I look forward to seeing what new possibilities open up in time for next year’s continued search.” This year, the search team ruled out more than 400 square kilometres in Canada’s vast Arctic waters, almost tripling the coverage of past field seasons and further narrowing the search for the elusive wrecks of the Franklin Expedition. With almost four weeks spent in the Arctic, the team employed a multitude of scientific data that will also greatly benefit Canada’s understanding and knowledge of the Arctic. Working from both the research vessel, Martin Bergmann, supplied by the Arctic Research Foundation, and Canadian Coast Guard Ship Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the survey time was significantly extended compared to previous years. In addition to Parks Canada’s underwater archaeologists searching for the Franklin vessels, the broader project team included the Arctic Charting and Mapping Pilot Project, led by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Canadian Hydrographic Service. This project allowed for the collection of data for the production of official navigational charts in the Arctic, while supporting, marine archaeology and ecosystem management objectives.
Posted 22 September 2012; 11:01:10 AM. Permalink
(Collin West/Bloomberg Businessweek, 12 July 2010) -- This blog will capture my personal experience as our team of four attempts “one of the last great firsts.” If successful, our crossing will be the first rowing expedition to travel from continent to continent for a total of 1,300 miles. What will we learn about ourselves and the Arctic along the way? Visit this blog regularly to find out as we explore this question in real time. But today, the Arctic Row expedition finally starts. I am sitting on the first of four flights as we make our way to Inuvik, a tiny town that sits 2 degrees north of the Arctic Circle. Our first stop is Edmonton, Canada. My excitement builds as the towns get progressively smaller. While in Inuvik, we will make final preparations on our boat, including packing our supplies and film gear for our documentary Into Thin Ice. Then we will drop our boat in the MacKenzie River about 70 miles north of the Arctic Ocean and commence our record-breaking attempt.
Posted 17 July 2012; 5:02:27 PM. Permalink
(Canadian Polar Commission, 6 July 2012) -- The Canadian Polar Commission (CPC) is seeking a full-time Northern Coordinator (on an assignment basis) to anchor the Commission's presence north of 60o and help advance its mandate by establishing and maintaining relationships with northern communities, organizations and individuals. The intent is to have a successful candidate in place in fall 2012.
Posted 6 July 2012; 1:43:07 PM. Permalink
(Carl Bildt, Minister for Foreign Affairs Sweden, speech at Carleton University 17 May 2012) -- I am deeply honored to speak here today at the Carleton University. Our two countries - Canada and Sweden - are connected in many ways. We share a similar culture and lifestyle. Our societies are based on the same set of fundamental values. And in both our countries we have a tradition of strong attachment to nature, despite an equally strong tradition of rough and forbidding weather conditions. More than anything, however, I believe we are linked together by geography: by the fact that both Canada and Sweden are countries that stretch into the vast, remote and cold part of the world called the Arctic. This simple fact has had a major impact on our history. It will - perhaps to an even greater extent - shape our future. And for many of us it will always be part of what it means to be Swedish and - I presume - Canadian. Take our national anthems as an example. While you are singing of "The True North strong and free", we sing "Thou ancient, thou free, thou mountainous North". Simply put, we are both Northerners.
Posted 18 May 2012; 2:30:53 PM. Permalink
(Sweden Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 14 May 2012) -- Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt will travel to Canada this week for political discussions primarily focusing on issues on the Arctic agenda. Mr Bildt will also visit the Arctic areas in Canada. Sweden currently holds the chair of the Arctic Council, which is a forum for cooperation between the five Nordic countries, Canada, Russia and the USA. The Arctic areas face many challenges and it is important to find a balance between environmental considerations and economic development for the Arctic to be able to develop. "Arctic region issues are a high priority for the Swedish Government and it is therefore important to discuss these issues with a central Arctic actor like Canada," says Mr Bildt. Sweden has held the chair of the Arctic Council since May 2011 and will pass on the Chairmanship to Canada at the foreign ministers' meeting in Kiruna in May 2013. On 16-17 May, Mr Bildt will be in Ottawa for talks with Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird, Minister of National Defence Peter Mackay and Minister of Health and Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency Leona Aglukkaq. On 17 May Mr Bildt will deliver a key policy speech at Carleton University under the heading 'Arctic Challenges and the Future Perspectives of Arctic Cooperation'. On 18-19 May Mr Bildt will visit Iqaluit in northern Canada, where he will meet Premier of Nunavut Eva Aariak and others.
Posted 16 May 2012; 4:08:24 PM. Permalink
(David McKie/CBC News via Eye on the Arctic, 8 May 2012) -- The federal government identified 142 contaminated sites as of last September where pollutants need to be contained or eliminated because of a long-term or immediate threat to human health or the environment. That's according to a CBC News analysis of the most recently available data compiled by the Treasury Board, one of the departments responsible for maintaining an inventory of sites. Much of the data is available online, but CBC News obtained more complete data under an access-to-information request. The 142 sites are only those that have reached step eight in a long process that federal departments and agencies must follow to assess and develop plans to clean up or contain damage posed by contaminants. Step eight is what's called "remediation/risk management strategy," which includes identifying the contaminants and whether they are present in soil or groundwater, and developing a plan to remove or treat the contaminants, as well as a detailed contingency plan in case the contaminants are released into the environment.
Posted 9 May 2012; 3:18:13 PM. Permalink
(Mia Bennett/Eye on the Arctic via Alaska Dispatch, 7 May 2012) -- The Canadian Forces have just commenced one of their annual sovereignty exercises in the Arctic, called Operation Nunalivut. One-hundred fifty Canadian Forces personnel from the Navy, Air Force, Army, and Canadian Rangers are participating. This year, the exercises are taking place around Cornwallis Island and on the western portion of Devon Island in Nunavut. Sovereignty and search and rescue (SAR) training compose a large portion of the operations this year. Royal Canadian Navy divers dove under six feet of ice in Gascoyne Bay to simulate a medical rescue. Two Royal Canadian Air Force CC-138 Twin Otters also performed ski-landings to resupply a temporary camp in Viks Fiord. Another exercise helped Canada look into the dangerous past of the Arctic: sailors cut a hole into the ice with heated saws to submerge a remotely operated vehicle to survey the world's northernmost shipwreck, the HMS Breadalbane, which sank down into the murky depths in 1853. Participants are also testing new communications capabilities for Op Nunalivut. For the first time, rangers can communicate through a chat program that connects them both to headquarters in Resolute and Yellowknife, thousands of miles away in the Northwest Territories. ... Meanwhile, the U.S. is "behind the power curve regarding the Arctic" according to Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Bob Papp. The U.S. Naval War College's War Gaming Department recently carried out an operations game in which it found that the Navy is woefully unprepared and ill-equipped for activities in the Arctic. Without any heavy icebreakers, it must rely on other countries for that capability. Walter Berbrick, assistant research professor in the War Gaming Department, stated, "We have limited capability to sustain long-term operations in the Arctic due to inadequate icebreaking capability. The Navy finds itself entering a new realm as it relates to having to rely on other nations." Previously, the Navy mostly just had to rely on the Coast Guard, to whom it gave its last icebreaker, the Glacier, to the Coast Guard in 1966. That year, it decided to hand over all icebreaking operations.
Posted 8 May 2012; 10:52:50 PM. Permalink
(CBC News via Eye on the Arctic, 7 May 2012) -- Whale Cove, a small predominantly Inuit community in Canada's eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut, is being ruffled by the rare sighting of a bald eagle. Elder Sam Arualak, who has spent most of his life in Whale Cove, said bald eagles are not common to the area. "No, not at all, you don't see them around here," he said in Inuktitut, the Inuit language dialect spoken in the community. "I think they usually belong along the treeline. It is rare to see them in Nunavut." According to residents, the large bird of prey has been feeding in the community of about 400 people along the western coast of Hudson Bay. An Environment Canada spokesperson confirmed the bird is a bald eagle and that it is outside its normal range. Mary-Jones Kriterdluk said the eagle's arrival has caused some excitement. She added it was the biggest bird she had ever seen and that many people were taking photos of it. "It is huge," she said in Inuktitut.
Posted 7 May 2012; 5:09:58 PM. Permalink
(Ed Struzik/Times Colonist, 6 May 2012) -- University of Alberta scientist Andrew Derocher was in the High Arctic in late April getting a rare, first-hand glimpse of what the future of the Arctic might look like right around the time 3,000 researchers, policy-makers and indigenous leaders were gathered in Montreal at the International Polar Year 2012 conference to try to imagine the same thing. Derocher was on the sea ice catching and tagging polar bears off the coast of Victoria Island when Inuvialuit hunter Pat Epakohak hunted and killed a female polar bear that had two very unusual-looking cubs with her. "One of the cubs was very grizzly-bear-like and the other looked more like a polar bear," Derocher wrote in an email after getting a chance to look at the carcasses of the animals. "I guess we can expect more of these hybrids as the population of grizzly bears continues to grow in this part of the world." Up until about 20 years ago, sightings of grizzlies in the High Arctic were extremely rare, a quirk of nature, many biologists thought, that may have occurred because the bear walked the wrong way or strayed too far following mainland caribou that sometimes cross the sea ice to Arctic islands. No one imagined that hybrids such as the one Derocher saw would be part of the land or seascape. But that thinking began to change in recent years as more brown bears and a succession of other animals, such as red fox, coyotes, white-tailed deer, Pacific salmon and killer whales, began showing up in areas traditionally occupied by Arctic fox, Arctic wolves, caribou, Arctic char and beluga whales. Some of these animals, we now know, are also producing hybrids.
Posted 7 May 2012; 4:28:33 PM. Permalink
(Gloria Galloway/Globe and Mail, 1 May 2012) -- The woman who heads the organization representing Canada’s 55,000 Inuit will let someone else lead her people into their future. Mary Simon’s work on behalf of the aboriginal people of the North spans more than four decades. She was one of the negotiators for the Inuit when Canada’s Constitution was being crafted. In her six years as leader of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, she has witnessed the settling of the last major Inuit land claim, she has heard an apology from the Prime Minister for the treatment of the aboriginal children at residential schools, and she has seen increasing recognition of the Inuit title to the vast resources of Canada’s North. “There has never been a day when I didn’t like my job,” she said during a recent interview in her office in downtown Ottawa. But Ms. Simon, 64, has told The Globe and Mail she will not seek a third term when the ITK, which represents Inuit in 53 communities in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Northern Quebec and Labrador, holds its presidential election in early June. As she ponders the road forward, Ms. Simon knows much needs to be done. The progress made by the Inuit over the six years she has led their national organization has been “three steps forward and two steps back,” Ms. Simon said. ...
Posted 4 May 2012; 1:48:03 PM. Permalink
(Anna Mehler Paperny/Globe and Mail, 4 May 2012) -- Canada is moving to wrest back control of a swiftly changing North – or at least get a better handle on what’s going on in its icy waters. Global warming and growing international interest in the melting Northwest Passage make it imperative, the federal government says in an online call for expressions of interest, to improve surveillance in territory Canada claims but knows little about. The research arm of the Department of National Defence is investing $10-million from now through 2015 in a remote-controlled satellite surveillance project in the Barrow Strait, a small slice of the Northwest Passage through which most vessels pass on their way westward along that route. The Northern Watch project was announced in 2007 and the first equipment set up the next year, only to be severely damaged by harsh weather conditions. Now, after several years of remediation and altering equipment to make it stand up better to Arctic conditions, Ottawa has put a call out for a company to build a system that researchers can control from Halifax and, eventually, set up to be entirely automated. It will send the signals to Defence Research and Development Canada's Atlantic section, which specializes in underwater photography. “Right now, we don’t have any actual presence in the Arctic, except for where we have people living,” said Gary Geling, Defence Research and Development Canada’s lead scientist on the project. “One of the things we really don’t have a good feel for right now is exactly where everything is. … This [new equipment] allows us to know who’s coming in.”
Posted 4 May 2012; 1:10:49 PM. Permalink
(Brett Smith for Redorbit.com) Canadian Craig Duncan was digging a trench in the basement of his new house in the Yukon Territory capital of Whitehorse when he stumbled over something unusual. “We were down about three feet, sifting through some of the stones down there to lay the electrical lines when I kicked what looked like a piece of bone,” Duncan said in an interview with the Canadian Press. “First, I thought it could be a dinosaur or something, but when we saw the hoof, we thought it could be a horse or a bison.” The next morning, Duncan went to the Yukon Department of Tourism and Culture to notify government archeologists and paleontologists of his findings. "They got pretty excited. It was pretty funny — they just basically all came running," he said. Within hours the excavation team began digging and eventually uncovered a nearly complete prehistoric bison skull and skeleton, a rare find in this remote area of northwestern Canada. “There have only been about 10 partial bison finds in the Yukon and nothing as complete as a full skeleton,” said Grant Zazula, a paleontologist with the Yukon government. “We expect findings in the Dawson area, but we would never have thought we’d find something like this in the city.” Zazula added that the bison likely died an accidental death while roaming the area where Duncan’s house now stands. "We're finding little shells of snails and what not. And if I took a guess, it was probably an animal on the ice that probably fell through," he said. The bones have yet to carbon dated, but researchers estimate they may be 10,000 years old, about the same time Homo sapiens were taking the first steps toward civilization. The bones are believed to be remnants of one of two ancient groups of bison which roamed the Whitehorse area as early as the last ice age.
Posted 4 May 2012; 12:31:59 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 17 April 2012) -- Three fuel trucks broke through the ice on the Tuktoyaktuk–Aklavik ice road in the Northwest Territories Monday night. No fuel leaked from the trucks, which were full, and no one was hurt. The incident backed up traffic for hours, affecting dozens of people who were travelling from the Tuktoyaktuk Beluga Jamboree. Barbara Archie, an elder from Aklavik, was on the ice road behind the trucks. "The trucks fell through, so we all had to stay back and wait," she said. A secondary road had to be cleared to allow people to make it back to shore. Crews worked for most of the day Tuesday to remove the trucks, which were partially submerged in the Arctic waters. Officials with the Department of Transportation said it’s the first time in recent memory that this many trucks have gone through the ice at once. The department is now investigating.
Posted 17 April 2012; 11:59:32 PM. Permalink
(CBC News via Eye on the Arctic, 16 April 2102) -- Divers with the Canadian military will make their way under the sea ice to explore a Franklin-era shipwreck. The exercise is part of the annual Operation Nunalivut, which takes place in the High Arctic near Resolute. Divers from three provinces will head down with remote-operated vehicles to look at the HMS Breadalbane. In 1853, the ship sank off Beechey Island in Lancaster Sound. It had been part of the search for John Franklin's lost ships, the Erebus and Terror, and their crews. The Breadalbane's crew had to abandon ship when it became trapped in an ice floe, and the crew was later rescued by another ship. "We don't think anybody's conducted any dive operations on it in about 10 years, and the last time that they did it looked to be in really good shape," said Lt. Col. Glen MacNeil, who is leading the operation. "You could clearly see the outline of the ship and the masts were still there on it with sails so it'll be interesting to see what type of images we get." The Breadalbane is now a national historic site of Canada. Operation Nunalivut ends May 1.
Posted 17 April 2012; 11:01:19 AM. Permalink
(Gemma Karstens-Smith/Postmedia News via Ottawa Citizen, 12 April 2012) -- Hans Island may look like nothing more than a big, vacant rock in Arctic waters, but for decades, it has been a political thorn in the side of both the Canadian and Danish governments. That thorn soon could be removed. Ownership of the barren, 1.3-square-kilometre piece of land — located in Nares Strait, between Canada's Ellesmere Island and Greenland, which falls under the Danish Crown — has been hotly contested since the current maritime borders were drawn up in 1973. Boundaries of the surrounding waters and seabeds are clear, but each country continues to claim the land mass as their own. The disagreement has led to some famous displays of sovereignty. Danish warships and naval personnel visited the island several times from the mid-1980s to early 2000s to maintain a flag. In 2005, Canadian soldiers ventured to the island to erect a Canadian flag and to build an inukshuk in an operation code-named "Exercise Frozen Beaver." Then-defence minister Bill Graham visited the island shortly after. The argument may be permanently resolved soon, however. Sources say Canada and Denmark are close to an agreement, which would see Hans Island split between the two nations, according to a report in the National Post. The reported agreement would create a border across the island — creating Canada's second international land border — by connecting the existing maritime boundaries, which stop on the low-water mark on the south side of the land mass and begin again at the low-water mark on the north side. "This dispute is really easy; you just have to connect the dots," said Michael Byers, an expert in Arctic sovereignty at the University of British Columbia. A spokesman for the Foreign Affairs Department could not comment on the reported agreement specifically. "Canada and Denmark are cooperating in developing a mutually agreeable way forward with respect to Hans Island," Ian Trites said.
Posted 14 April 2012; 10:03:11 PM. Permalink
(AFP via Yahoo! News, 11 April 2012) -- Canada and Denmark are close to settling a decades-old territorial dispute over a tiny island in the Arctic, a Canadian newspaper said Wednesday. Negotiators have put forth a proposal to split down the middle Hans Island, a barren rock of 1.3 square kilometers (0.5 square miles) that sits between Ellesmere Island and Greenland, the National Post reported. The plan, which has yet to be approved by either nation, would give Canada a second land border and settle a spat that is seen as both absurd and essential for economic development and better environmental stewardship of the Arctic. But officials would not confirm a settlement has been reached. "Canada and Denmark are cooperating in developing a mutually agreeable way forward with respect to Hans Island," said Joseph Lavoie, spokesman for Canada's Foreign Minister John Baird. The snow-covered site is uninhabitable, but the onset of global warming is expected to bring ship traffic to the region and open it up to mining, fishing or drilling for oil and gas. The dispute over the island, which is less than 100 meters (330 feet) wide, dates back to 1973 when the border was drawn between Canada and Greenland, which is part of Denmark. Danes and Canadians have visited it often since then to lay claim to it, leading to diplomatic protests, vivid online campaigns and even a Canadian call for a boycott of Danish pastries. Denmark fears that losing the battle for Hans Island would undermine relations with its giant overseas territory Greenland, while Canada is concerned it could lose ground in a far more consequential dispute with the United States over the Beaufort Sea. In 2010, however, Ottawa vowed in its first policy statement on the far north to quickly settle border disputes with Denmark and the United States, in order to move forward on broader issues of Arctic resource development.
Posted 12 April 2012; 12:00:24 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 8 April 2012) -- The Canadian military’s Operation Nunalivut starts in Resolute, Nunavut, on Tuesday. About 150 people, including Canadian Rangers and military personnel, will participate in the exercise. The challenging High Arctic environment and the potentially severe weather will set the stage for two missions. "One is in the vicinity of Banshee Island, enabling search and rescue training combined with a dive operation," said Brig.-Gen. Guy Hamel, the Canadian Forces' commander in the North. "There will be also be a northern ground patrol scenario that we allow the Canadian Rangers to both exercise sovereignty and practice aerial search techniques." Operation Nunalivut will run until May 1. This will mark the Canadian Forces' first official return to Resolute since a First Air passenger jet crashed near the community on Aug. 20. That crash, which claimed the lives of 12 of the 15 people on board, happened while the military was taking part in Operation Nanook in the area. Operation Nunalivut is one of three major military exercises that take place in Canada's North every year.
Posted 9 April 2012; 9:59:44 PM. Permalink
(CBC News via Eye on the Arctic, 5 April 2012) -- The Mackenzie Valley pipeline, an energy megaproject in Canada's North that has been proposed and debated for decades, has been put on hold again. The 1,196-kilometre line would have transported natural gas from the Beaufort Sea to North American markets. The partners behind the proposed $16.2 billion projected halted development because of low prices for natural gas. ConocoPhillips said Thursday that the five partners in the energy development consortium have suspended funding for the project, which would have transported up to 1.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day. The partners include an aboriginal group funded by Calgary-based TransCanada Corp, Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Imperial Oil Ltd., also of Calgary. ConocoPhillips said the decision was made in the first quarter of this year. "The co-venturers elected to suspend funding of the project due to a continued decline in market conditions and the lack of acceptable commercial terms," it said in a release. The announcement follows a decision less than a week ago by ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, BP and TransCanada, to work toward developing natural gas reserves on Alaska's North Slope, which would be assessed as an alternative to a natural gas pipeline through Alberta. The state of Alaska has offered up to $500 million in incentives to build a pipeline there. The National Energy Board approved the Mackenzie Valley project in December 2010. The price of natural gas, already at a 10-year low, fell further Thursday after the U.S. government reported a surprisingly large increase in supply. Gas for May delivery fell four cents to $2.11 per thousand cubic feet in New York at midday. The government said supplies expanded last week to a level that's 60.5 per cent higher than the five-year average.
Posted 7 April 2012; 1:17:22 PM. Permalink
(Postmedia News, 1 April 2012) -- New flame retardants meant to replace their toxic predecessors are showing up in the air around the Great Lakes in increasing concentrations and travelling as far north as the Arctic. These new findings raise a red flag that these chemicals need to be more closely examined to see if they accumulate in the environment and animals, according to Hayley Hung, a research scientist at Environment Canada, who found concentrations of tetrabromobenzoate (TBB) and tetrabromophthalate (TBPH) in both Canada's High Arctic and the Tibetan Plateau. "It's not just a localized problem," said Hung. "(They) could become a global pollutant." Hung said TBB and TBPH are among the components in Firemaster flame retardants that are used in everyday objects such as car upholstery, computer equipment, carpeting and polyurethane foam. They get into the air when they're applied (usually sprayed) onto products. The two compounds are meant to replace poly brominated diphenylether (PBDE) flame retardants after these were found to be toxic in the mid-2000s. (PBDEs have been detected in, for example, blood samples and breast milk and some studies suggest a connection between PBDE exposure and reduced fertility in women.) Hung's study as well as research by Ronald Hites at Indiana University shows particles from TBB and TBPH in air samples from cities and remote areas.
Posted 2 April 2012; 2:40:53 PM. Permalink
(Julie Gordon/Reuters via MineWeb.com, 2 April 2012) -- TORONTO - The prospects of a mining boom in Canada's Arctic territory of Nunavut - once as bright as the Northern Lights - are fading fast as costs in the inhospitable region spiral higher, forcing writedowns on two major gold projects there. The sparsely populated territory has gained a reputation as one of the most promising regions in Canada for exploration, with prospectors promoting discoveries ranging from gold to uranium. But getting the ore out of the ground is a different story entirely. While climate change has made it easier to find mineral deposits in Nunavut, the task of mining is complicated by a lack of roads and other infrastructure, the still-crippling cold and the challenge of attracting and retaining an adventurous workforce. Agnico-Eagle Mines, which owns the only working mine in Nunavut, recently booked a partial writedown on changes to the mine plan at Meadowbank, while cash costs at the gold mine have risen to more than $1,000 per ounce. That happened just months after a fire destroyed the mine's kitchen, crippling staffing levels and slashing into 2011 gold output, illustrating how susceptible remote projects are to the even the smallest operational hiccups. "It is a high-cost part of the world to operate in," said Agnico's chief executive, Sean Boyd. "There are risks in that part of the world, no doubt about it."
Posted 2 April 2012; 12:53:22 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 30 March 2012) -- The federal budget, released Thursday in Ottawa, contains some of the biggest cross-country cuts since the 1990s. Old age security eligibility will be raised to the age of 67, the penny will be phased out, and about 19,000 public sector jobs will be cut over the next three years. The budget also includes several plans for the North. Among the most notable plans is $225 million to repair harbours across the country. Included in that money is a plan to "accelerate" the construction of the harbour in Pangnirtung, Nunavut, which was originally announced in 2009. Also included in the budget is the continuation of an assessment of diamonds in the North – with a price tag of $12.3 million over two years. The plan will renew the Diamond Valuation and Royalty Assessment program, which is run by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.
Posted 30 March 2012; 3:28:50 PM. Permalink
(Globe and Mail, 26 March 2012) -- The new Canadian $50 bill unveiled Monday contains a few changes in addition to the state-of-the-art plastic material introduced as part of Canada’s ongoing currency overhaul. Gone from the new bill are images of human-rights causes, like the women’s liberation movement and the UN Declaration on Human Rights. Added is an image of an Arctic icebreaker, the Canadian Coast Guard research ship Amundsen. Those variations on the back of the bill are to be expected, says the Bank of Canada, because every new currency series carries a different theme. “The [new] theme is great Canadian accomplishments – in the country, in the world and in space,” said spokeswoman Phuong Anh Ho Huu. ... Changes to currency are suggested by the Bank of Canada, following a round of public consultation, and subject to the approval of Finance Minister Jim Flaherty. The front of the new $50 bill continues to carry the image of former prime minister William Lyon Mackenzie King as well as its familiar reddish hue.
Posted 26 March 2012; 10:26:49 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 22 March 2012) -- The federal government has quietly changed its plans for the Nanisivik Naval Facility on north Baffin Island. The proposed facility at a defunct mine near Arctic Bay, Nunavut, will be much smaller than first planned. The Department of National Defence spelled out the changes in a recent letter to the Nunavut Impact Review Board. Prime Minister Stephen Harper travelled to Arctic Bay in 2007 to announce plans for the facility. There were to be major upgrades to the jetty, offices and accommodations, and the capacity to store two years worth of fuel. Now work on the jetty has been postponed indefinitely, fuel storage capacity has been slashed, and the only building will be an unheated storage unit. A spokesperson for Defence Minister Peter MacKay would not comment on the changes saying only that the intent remains for a docking and refuelling station at Nanisivik. "The optimistic way of looking at it is this is just a slowing down,” said Rob Huebert, an Arctic defence analyst at the University of Calgary, “The more negative view of course is that this is the way often governments will start to kill a project."
Posted 23 March 2012; 10:37:49 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, ) -- The U.S. Consul General for British Columbia and Yukon thanked Yukoners with a bronze plaque Thursday for their help on 9/11 and the days afterwards. Two Korean Air 747’s bound for the United States were diverted to Whitehorse back on September 11th, 2001. Anne Callaghan said Canadians across the country opened their homes and hearts to stranded Americans that day. "The U.S. government has been presenting bronze plaques to various Canadian communities in appreciation." she said. “Neither terrorism nor adversity can conquer free people,” Callaghan said, “We are grateful to stand with neighbours who are willing to share the burdens of trying times and to work together for good. Our profound gratitude goes to all Canadians for the many acts of kindness and support rendered in the wake of September 11, 2001.” Callaghan just recently began her job at the U.S. consulate in Vancouver. She said she's keen to support the already strong ties between Yukon and Alaska. “One thing that's been very gratifying for me here is to see the extent of the cooperation between Yukon and Alaska, on the educational front, on the trade front, it's deep and it's heartfelt and anything we can do to help promote that we will.” Yukon premier Darrell Pasloski accepted the plaque on behalf of the territory.
Posted 23 March 2012; 10:36:07 AM. Permalink
(Randy Boswell/Postmedia News ᔥ canada.com, 16 March 2012) -- Environmentalists and Arctic aboriginal groups are urging speed limits on ships and other rules to protect marine mammals as the Northwest Passage and other polar transportation routes become more heavily travelled in an era of retreating sea ice. The U.S.-based Wildlife Conservation Society and native organizations, including the Inuit Circumpolar Council, issued a call on Friday for northern countries to acknowledge the rising risks to northern marine creatures resulting from the "rapid increase in shipping in the formerly ice-choked waterways of the Arctic." Of particular concern, the groups stated after a three-day workshop on the issue, is the Bering Strait between Russia and Alaska, an ecologically rich but relatively narrow choke point for ships travelling through both the Northern Sea Route north of Russia and the Northwest Passage through Canada's Arctic islands. Among the species at risk from increased shipping are bowhead and beluga whale, walrus, several kinds of seals and the polar bear, the groups said.
Posted 18 March 2012; 1:05:58 AM. Permalink
(Jane George/Nunatsiaq News, 16 March 2012) -- It’s official: Norway can bring home the Maud, although some people in Cambridge Bay may miss the familar sight of the half-sunken wreck outside their community. Canada’s cultural property export review board, which met March 15 in Ottawa, has directed the Border Services Agency to issue an export permit to the Norwegian group that’s eager to bring the ship once sailed by polar explorer Roald Amundsen back to Norway. The board said in its March 16 decision that “the Maud is of outstanding significance to Canada, but that its loss would not significantly diminish the national heritage.” A statement from Canadian Heritage said “the board was sensitive to both sides of the story of the Maud and appreciated all the relevant information presented by the expert examiner and the appellant, the Norwegian Embassy. The Board recognized the shared heritage of Canada, Norway and the world, and after careful consideration of the criteria under the Act, determined that an export permit will be granted for the Maud.” “That is great news for us and we can now go ahead making plans and prepare ourself for the great challenge to finally bring Maud home,” said Jan Wanggaard, manager of the Maud Returns Home project. “It’s a great responsibility we now take on and we will work hard to make this project something everyone can be proud of at the end of the day both in Canada and Norway.” Last December, the Canadian Border Services Agency turned down a request for a federal export permit for the Maud, once sailed by Norway’s Amundsen, the first European adventurer to travel the Northwest Passage in 1906 and the first person to reach the South Pole December 1911. The Norwegian investors wants to raise the Maud with balloons, drag the hulk over to a barge and then tow it from Nunavut back to Norway — a 7,000-kilometre journey. There, the Maud would be exhibited at a futuristic museum in Asker, a suburb of Oslo — where anything to do with Amundsen remains a huge draw.
Posted 16 March 2012; 5:10:04 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 16 March 2012) -- A major project is about to begin to count caribou on Baffin Island for the first time ever. Last minute logistics are still being worked out in an Iqaluit hotel room which is serving as a operations base. Baffin regional biologist Debbie Jenkins is leading the survey. "So this really is going to provide critical, fundamental, baseline information on this population or populations,” Jenkins said. “We think there's actually 3 different populations of barrengound caribou on the island" Helicopters will fly at low levels over the entire island, to try to get the most accurate count possible. The data could determine conservation measures, or restrict development in some areas. Local communities are involved with the survey in the hope it helps their hunters. Noah Mosesee is the chair of Pangnirtung's Hunters and Trappers organization. “We support the survey and are looking forward to working together with DFO's and wildlife department to find out how many caribou and the location where they have migrated to,” Mosesee said. “This is very important to us.” The helicopters are set to take off from Iqaluit as soon as the weather allows. They'll focus on South Baffin this year and North Baffin next year.
Posted 16 March 2012; 4:59:08 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 15 March 2012) -- Federal finance minister Jim Flaherty has raised the borrowing limit for the three territories, which allows the governments more financial flexibility. In an announcement this morning, Flaherty said the raise will likely be spent on large infrastructure projects. The debt increase has been called for by the territorial finance ministers. The federal government has invested in the construction of an all-weather road between Inuvik, N.W.T., and Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T. Flaherty said he won't micro-manage how territories use the new limit. "These are decisions for the territorial government, not the government here in Ottawa. But I expect that this will help facilitate the territorial contribution to the building of the highways. You know the federal government is committed to the completion of the highway and I would hope that the territorial government would use some of this spending authority to arrive at the same place," he said. The Government of the Northwest Territories can now borrow up to $800 million. Its previous limit was $575 million. Both the Government of Yukon and Nunavut's limits have been increased to $400 million. Yukon's previous limit was $300 million and Nunavut's was $200 million. Michael Miltenberger, Finance Minister for the Northwest Territories, said the new limit will help the territory fund infrastructure projects. "In these times of fiscal uncertainty with very real risks posed by external economic threats and internal cost pressures, the extra buffer between the borrowing limit and GNWT debt is welcome," Miltenberger added. Flaherty said the federal government is open to expanding the limit in the future.
Posted 16 March 2012; 1:29:33 PM. Permalink
(CBCNews ᔥ Eye on the Arctic, 20 February 2012) -- There is still uncertainty about the environmental effects of a major gasoline spill in Resolute Bay, Nunavut, a territory in Canada's eastern Arctic. Officials say an estimated 87,000 litres of gasoline poured onto the ground at the hamlet's fuel tank farm between Oct. 27 and Oct. 28. The Government of Nunavut hired contractor Nunami Stantec Ltd., which submitted a draft report detailing the cleanup and spill assessment at the site. Using Access to Information legislation, the CBC has obtained a copy of the draft report the company completed Dec. 19. ... The engineers give a number of reasons for the level of uncertainty in their draft report. They said it would have helped them to have had accurate design drawings of the site. The document also highlights the challenges the crew had in doing their assessment, such as cold temperatures, blizzard conditions, short daylight and a limited availability of equipment. The draft report includes three pages of recommendations for the Government of Nunavut. However, those recommendations are unknown because the territorial government redacted that section of the document. The government cited a section of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act which deals with information which could be used to make future decisions.ᔥ
Posted 20 February 2012; 8:28:16 PM. Permalink
(Carl Meyer/Embassy, 8 February 2012) -- The United States and Canada should march in lockstep at the Arctic Council, as the US helps to develop natural resources in Canada's North, say Canadian and US officials. "We look forward to developing a common agenda at the Arctic Council, which we can advance during these four years of a shared North American chairmanship," said Richard Steffens, minister-counsellor for commercial affairs at the US Embassy. Mr. Steffens was speaking as part of a Feb. 3 panel at Northern Lights 2012, a four-day conference in Ottawa focusing on the Arctic and the North. The panel also featured the heads of mission of Norway, Denmark, and Sweden, as well as Canada's senior Arctic official, Sheila Riordon. The Arctic Council—an intergovernmental forum that deals with matters facing Arctic states and indigenous peoples—is set to be chaired by Canada from 2013 to 2015, and the US from 2015 to 2017. Ms. Riordon confirmed in her own speech that the two countries are now angling to collaborate. "There's a great deal of opportunity to look at ways that we can use the council from the North American optic to advance some of our shared interests and objectives," she said. The US is Canada's "closest neighbour and in many ways our premier partner in the region," added Ms. Riordon, who is director general of the energy, climate, and circumpolar affairs bureau at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. A Canada-US bloc would set the two nations apart from a Scandinavian bloc that has existed since 2006. Council documents note that the three last chairs—Norway, Denmark, and Sweden—pledged to follow a common set of priorities: climate change, environmental protection, the legacy of the 2007-08 international polar year, indigenous peoples, and the management of the council.
Posted 13 February 2012; 11:06:40 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 12 February 2012) -- He learned Inuinnaqtun and worked to translate the Bible and hymns into the Inuktitut dialect. Bishop Andrew Ataguttaaluk knew Sperry well, having worked and travelled with him in the North since the 1970s. He said Sperry's translation work was instrumental in teaching the Anglican faith to the people of the Western Arctic. "That was part of his main work to see that the Scriptures and the liturgy become in the language of the people that he served," said Ataguttaaluk. "He has been more like a spiritual father to many of us in terms of his ministry across the diocese," he added. Sperry also visited unilingual Inuinnaqtun elders at Stanton Territorial Hospital in Yellowknife and served as the chaplain for the Canadian Forces Northern Region. Sperry was named to the Order of Canada in 2002. He was scheduled to receive one of the 60,000 Queen's Diamond Jubilee medals later this year. A funeral service in Yellowknife is being planned.
Posted 13 February 2012; 10:56:40 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 13 February 2012) -- A new course on Inuvialuit history is being taught in local high schools throughout the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. The course was developed by the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation and the Beaufort Delta Education Council. It is being introduced in a pilot project for students in grades 10 and 11. “Where they came from, what accomplishments they have, what challenges they have faced throughout their history,” said Bob Simpson, who works with the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation. It’s called ‘Tiemani’, which means ‘at that time’ in the Inuktitut dialect spoken in the region. It’s currently an optional credit, but Simpson says they want to change that. He said they're approaching the Department of Education to make the course mandatory. Anna Pingo teaches the course in Inuvik. “We’re just on Module 1, which is focusing on the history of the Inuvialuit. We were really surprised to see their textbook because it’s much bigger than we expected, it’s got such nice pictures and a lot of stories in there,” said Pingo. Pingo says she’s gotten high praise for the new classroom materials.
Posted 13 February 2012; 5:06:05 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 10 February 2012) -- Nunavut's new high school curriculum will offer students a choice of six majors with an emphasis on practical skills, in the hopes it will keep more students in school. Inuit elders and education staff, who have been working on the new curriculum for years, also say it’s a better reflection of the territory’s unique culture. Nunavut’s current education guidelines were set before it became its own territory and they were based on those of Alberta and the other territories. The government has decided to move to a new multiple-option system. In addition to courses such as math and science, students can choose to major in one of six new areas: Introduction to trades and technology; History, heritage and culture; Community caregiving and family studies; Entrepreneurship and small-business studies; Fine arts and crafts; and Information technology. Diplomas will display students’ majors when they graduate. “We’re hoping it will keep more kids in school. Because right now, sometimes there isn’t as much practical hands-on coursework and it’s very ad-hoc,” said Cathy McGregor, director of curriculum development for Nunavut’s Department of Education. “So I think if it’s more organized and more co-ordinated, it might be more stimulating and challenging for kids.” Pascale Baillargeon, a guidance counsellor at Inuksuk High School in Iqaluit, comes face to face with the territory’s notoriously high drop-out rates and low attendance every day. But she says it is not a hopeless cause. “The kids are genuinely interested. It’s just making that connection,” she said. The Department of Education hopes the new curriculum will do the trick but Baillargeon said it won’t solve every issue. Some of the curriculum’s limitations are that few schools, if any, will be able to offer all six specialties. Most will only be able to provide two or three. The new curriculum comes into effect in September 2013.
Posted 13 February 2012; 2:28:41 PM. Permalink
(Beth Bragg/Anchorage Daily News, 13 February 2012) -- As the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race nears completion, the outcome of the 1,000-mile race hinges on a two-man race and a missing ax. Just minutes separated frontrunners Hugh Neff and Allen Moore on Sunday as the pair drove their teams to the penultimate checkpoint in Braeburn, Yukon, just 100 miles from the Whitehorse finish line.If it stays that close to the end, the ax will fall on Neff's hopes of winning his first Quest title. Neff was assessed a 30-minute penalty, which he will serve in Braeburn, for not having his ax when he arrived at the Pelly Crossing checkpoint early Sunday morning. An ax is part of the mandatory gear mushers must carry on the trail from Fairbanks to Whitehorse. This is the second time in four races Neff has been hit with a penalty.... This time, he left his ax behind in Dawson, where he used it but forgot to put it back in his sled bag, Quest officials reported on Facebook. KUAC radio reported that Neff, an eight-time Quest finisher who has finished second once and third twice, realized the ax was missing when he stopped at Scroggie Creek, a dog drop on the roughly 200-mile run from Dawson to Pelly Crossing. "He informed the race judge immediately," KUAC reported. Once he arrived at Pelly Crossing, Neff had to wait six minutes before he officially could check in. That's how long it took one of his handlers to fetch a replacement ax -- Quest rules don't allow mushers to check in without all of their mandatory gear. ... Neff wouldn't have been hit with the 30-minute penalty if the store at Pelly Crossing had been open and had an ax in stock. But it was 3:27 a.m. in Pelly Crossing when Neff reached the checkpoint. The store was closed. Rules allow mushers to replace accidentally lost gear with gear from a public source. But if the replacement comes from a private source, like Neff's did, it comes with a 30-minute penalty.
Posted 13 February 2012; 10:39:25 AM. Permalink
(CBC News via Eye on the Arctic, 9 February 2012) -- Though Nunavut, a territory in Canada's eastern Arctic, is growing faster than most other parts of the country, at a rate of eight per cent between 2006 and 2011 according to census numbers released Wednesday, not all of its communities are growing. Resolute, Chesterfield Inlet, Igloolik, Rankin Inlet, Grise Fiord and Hall Beach all have fewer residents now than five years ago. The population of Hall Beach is decreasing faster than anywhere else in Nunavut. More than 100 people left that community in the past five years, for a decrease of 16 per cent since 2006. "We're not worried," said Paul Haulli, mayor of Hall Beach. Haulli says the 547 people in the community like living there. There aren't many jobs for people in town right now but he said mineral exploration nearby may change that. "So maybe down the road there will be good employment," he said. New jobs, he said, would bring more people back to the community. Iqaluit grew more than eight per cent in the past five years, to a population of about 6,700. Nearly 32,000 people now live in Nunavut, about 2,400 more than there were five years ago. The fastest growing community is Repulse Bay, where the population grew to 945 from 748 in 2006. That's a 26 per cent increase. According to Statistics Canada, the big reason for Nunavut's population growth is its high birth rate.
Posted 10 February 2012; 3:26:36 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 25 January 2012) -- Organizers for the 2012 Arctic Winter Games’ cultural events took the stage Tuesday. Eight presenters got a chance to lay out their plans for the week of shows in Whitehorse which will take place alongside the sports. The theme for this year is "Winter Living". "We're trying to create that atmosphere where people get together and they go in the backyard and they light a fire and there's some music and they go inside to warm up. It's about celebrating who we are as a northern people. I just thought that weather-wise, you know, it's sort of how we winter. That's kind of the theme that inspired some of the work," said Laurel Parry, vice-president for culture and ceremonies for the games. Some of the features will include an exhibition of circumpolar beading. There will also be local dancers, musicians and snow carving. The new Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre and the MacBride museum will feature displays. The budget for the cultural games is $300,000. Patrick Roberge, who directed the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2007 Canada Winter Games is coming back to produce this year’s event on a $40,000 contract. The Arctic Winter Games start March 4.
Posted 30 January 2012; 2:37:44 AM. Permalink
(Margaret Munro/Postmedia News, 29 January 2012) -- The icebreaker at the heart of Canada's premier Arctic science program has been pulled from service, leaving researchers scrambling to find other ships to take them to the North. The bright red Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Amundsen has become a familiar sight cruising the Arctic. It is a floating home and laboratory for researchers and students studying everything from Inuit health to the transformation underway in the Arctic environment. The ship is also to be featured on Canada's new $50 bill. But it is now docked in Trois-Rivieres, Que., with four of its six engines "non-operational,'' and in need of repairs expected to cost several million dollars and take at least a year. "Numerous repair scenarios are now being considered, but in all cases, the ship will be non-operational until late 2012 or early 2013,'' Martin Fortier, executive director of ArcticNet, said in a memo recently sent to scientists who planned to use the ship this year. "This leaves us with no other option than to cancel the 2012 Amundsen expedition altogether, obviously a major blow to the 2012 ArcticNet ocean program and associated research projects,'' it says. ArcticNet, based at Laval University, co-ordinates and funds Arctic work undertaken by researchers across Canada. Keith Levesque, ArcticNet's co-ordinator for research on the Amundsen, says the engine problems "came out of the blue.'' A routine coast guard inspection in December uncovered cracks in four of the ship's six engine blocks, he said in an interview. Transport Canada inspectors took a look and in January, "deemed that the ship could not sail this summer, or even this winter, and that the engines need to be replaced as soon as possible.'' Nathalie Letendre, a media officer with the Coast Guard, says the Amundsen will not even been used to clear ice in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, which it usually does in the winter months. It is not know how expensive or extensive the repairs job will be, she said, but the ship is expected to be out of action for the year. The cancellation of the 2012 Amundsen expedition comes just months after ArcticNet researchers won a $67.3-million infusion from the federal government to step up northern research. "We are still in shock,'' says John Hughes Clarke, at the University of New Brunswick, who leads an ArcticNet project mapping the seabed.
Posted 29 January 2012; 11:12:36 PM. Permalink
(Anita Li/Toronto Star, 25 January 2012) -- An Arctic duck is at risk because polar bears have developed a newfound appetite for their eggs, scientists say. The eider populations in Nunavut and Nunavik, Que., are declining partly because the bears have been eating more of their eggs, which are laid on the southern coasts of Baffin Island and Southampton Island. “The bears were essentially eating every single egg on the island(s),” said Samuel Iverson, a field researcher with Environment Canada. “We are seeing just major nest depredation.” Over the past three decades, climate change has caused sea ice to disappear, making it more difficult for polar bears to hunt for seals, their primary prey. To compensate, the bears have been raiding eider nests for food. “These bears might be energy-deficient and more willing to consume resources, which before, weren’t very important to them, but now are piquing the bears’ interest in a way that they haven’t in the past,” he said. “The number of colonies where we saw this happening was much higher than anybody has ever recorded before.” But eating a diet of eggs isn’t enough to sustain the polar bear population in the long-term, Iverson added.
Posted 26 January 2012; 6:30:40 PM. Permalink
(Randy Boswell/Postmedia News via Vancouver Sun, 20 January 2012) -- In the midst of a Cold War-esque spy scandal involving a Canadian naval officer accused of passing secrets to a foreign entity, Canadian scientists have quietly accomplished something likely to prove far more effective than espionage or military posturing in affirming — and extending — Canada's sovereignty in the North: They've published two academic studies about Arctic Ocean geology that lend solid support to the country's ambitious claims for new undersea territory in the region. Canada's formal bid to take possession of vast stretches of Arctic Ocean seabed isn't due until the end of 2013, the deadline for this country's submission to the United Nations agency responsible for approving new offshore territorial claims governed by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. And under rules agreed to by all five Arctic coastal countries — Canada, Russia, the U.S., Norway and Denmark — scientific evidence compiled from decades of mapping and analyzing the Arctic sea floor will ultimately determine who controls the rich oil-and-gas deposits and other resources believed to lie below the rapidly retreating polar ice. The recent, peer-reviewed publication of new data bolstering Canada's claims, says the federal government's chief of Arctic mapping, marks another major milestone in a decade-long quest that could eventually add an area of underwater territory to Canada as big as the Prairies. "These are the kinds of papers that analyze the new data," says Halifax-based Natural Resources Canada geoscientist Jacob Verhoef, "and set the stage for what we think are going to be the key components of the submission." The scientific studies wouldn't weave well into the plot of a spy thriller. One of them appeared in last month's Journal of Geophysical Research and is titled: "The Crustal Structure of the Alpha Ridge at the transition to the Canadian Polar Margin: Results from a seismic refraction experiment." The other, appearing as a book chapter in the newly published proceedings of an international geological symposium, is titled: "Submarine Landslides in Arctic Sedimentation." But together with a paper published in 2009 on the bedrock connections between the North American continent and Lomonosov Ridge — an undersea mountain range reaching from Ellesmere Island and northwest Greenland to Siberia — the new studies will help underpin Canada's claims for ownership of huge areas of ocean floor beyond the country's continental shelves.
Posted 24 January 2012; 12:49:12 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 23 January 2012) -- A Canadian company is planning to build a fibre optic line which could bring significantly faster internet speeds to the eastern Arctic. Ontario-based Arctic Fibre Inc. wants to run 15,868 kilometres of the cable under water. It would stretch from northern Asia, under the Pacific Ocean, through the Northwest Passage and across the Atlantic to Europe. It would also provide high speed internet to some northern communities. The proposed network would include connections to Tuktoyaktuk in the N.W.T., and Cambridge Bay, Gjoa Haven, Taloyoak, Igloolik, Hall Beach, Cape Dorset and Iqaluit in Nunavut. "And that will create so many different opportunities for people, just in terms of how they conduct their affairs," Arctic Fibre president Doug Cunningham told CBC News. "Within the cable itself, we'll have four fibre pairs. And those four fibre pairs will be capable of conducting 12.8 terabits, which is like moving 150 million simultaneous phone calls or slightly more than 1.2 million high definition movies at the same time. It's a lot of capacity," he said. Cunningham estimates the entire project will cost about $640 million, 40 per cent of which he said would be spent in Canadian waters. "The reason it becomes economic is because we can apportion part of that Canadian rate base or investment to the international carriers. And that's what gets it going; it's a combination of the international demand, along with having satellite displacement in Nunavut." The company is planning construction on the first phase of the project, a line between Newfoundland and Iqaluit, in the fall of 2013.
Posted 23 January 2012; 10:14:10 PM. Permalink
(ENS, 17 January 2012) -- TORONTO, Ontario, Canada - Drawn by rapid climate changes in the resource-rich Arctic, China, India and Brazil, which have no Arctic territories, are knocking on the door of the increasingly influential Arctic Council looking for admission as permanent observers. The issue has divided existing members, with Russia and Canada most strongly opposed. It is among the major questions with which Canada will have to grapple as it prepares to chair the Arctic Council next year. The issue is on the agenda of a two-day meeting on the future of the Arctic Council, which opened today in Toronto. The second annual Munk-Gordon Arctic Security Conference has attracted more than 100 participants from 15 nations, including experts, national ambassadors and indigenous leaders. Full members of the Arctic Council are Canada, Russia, the United States, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Iceland and Denmark via Greenland - the eight countries with Arctic territory. Six northern indigenous groups - the Inuit Circumpolar Council, Arctic Athabaskan Council, Gwich'in Council International, Sami Council, Russian Association of the Indigenous Peoples of the North and Aleut International Association - are permanent participants. The Arctic Council is the only international organization that gives indigenous peoples a formal place at the table. Another six non-Arctic nations sit in as observers today: France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom. However, many more non-Arctic countries, which in addition to China, India and Brazil, include Japan, South Korea, the European Union and several individual European states, now want observer status, a step that some fear would increase the influence of non-Arctic participants. Many non-Arctic countries are interested in the Arctic as the "canary in the coal mine" on climate change. They are also interested in the potential access to the vast hydrocarbons and resources in the region and the cost-savings of using shorter Arctic shipping routes.
Posted 21 January 2012; 10:30:12 PM. Permalink
(ICTMN, 2 January 2012) -- This time last year the Inuit in Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut territory, were battling the Arctic equivalent of a heat wave: Temperatures hovering around freezing were making roads slushy and icy, obliterating the blizzard conditions that they are used to driving in. That caused a bit of mayhem on the roads. At the moment, temperatures seem to be back on track, with temperatures on Monday January 2, 2012, hovering at –20 Fahrenheit. That was one notable event in Northern territory in January of 2011. Plenty of news both large and small came out of Canada’s northern regions. ...
Posted 4 January 2012; 12:05:51 PM. Permalink
(David Pugliese/Postmedia News, 27 December 2011) -- The Royal Canadian Air Force has looked at a major expansion at Resolute Bay, Nunavut, as it considers transforming it into a key base for Arctic operations, according to documents obtained by Postmedia. The construction of a 3,000-metre paved runway, hangars, fuel installations and other infrastructure has been proposed as part of an effort to support government and military operations in the North. Resolute Bay in Nunavut would be able to provide a logistics site for search-and-rescue operations as well as a base for strategic refuelling aircraft, according to the briefing from the Arctic Management Office at 1 Canadian Air Division, the air force's Winnipeg-based command and control division. The briefing was presented in June 2010 and recently released by the Defence Department under the Access to Information law. The long paved runway would allow fighter aircraft to operate from the site, with the suggestion in the presentation that could include NORAD (North American Aerospace Defence Command) jets. Resolute Bay now has a 1,981-metre gravel runway, according to information provided for pilots by the federal government. Resolute Bay should be considered for expansion to become a main operating base because it is "the geostrategic centre to the Arctic and (Northwest) Passage" and is an "existing regional supply hub with a permanent population/sea access," according to the briefing. It would be seen as a "key Arctic regional development and sovereignty centrepiece."
Posted 31 December 2011; 2:09:08 PM. Permalink
(Yukon College, 19 December 2011) -- Yukon College is piloting a service-learning course this winter that will take advantage of the volunteer opportunity offered by Whitehorse's hosting the 2012 Arctic Winter Games. Essentially, volunteer, come to class, and through academic consideration of the experience and its context, earn university-level Northern Studies elective credits. NOTE: The course outline shown on the linked page is for a different offering of this course. The current outline may be retrieved from the enclosure URL below this post.
(Randy Boswell/Postmedia via Vancouver Sun, 15 December 2011) -- It became the focus of an intense bidding war this week at a major auction of aboriginal art in France: a 150-year-old wooden "mosquito mask" from the Tlingit people of the Pacific Northwest, a Canadian historical treasure that was expected to fetch about $40,000 but drew a top bid of nearly $400,000 before the hammer finally came down at a Christie's saleroom in Paris. The eventual buyer, an unidentified European collector, prevented a rival Canadian bidder from repatriating the rare object to this country.... ... The mask sold in France was added to the collection of a U.S. museum in 1949 — when the relic was already almost a century old — but was sold into the private art market in 1970. Christie's described the object as Canadian but noted that the Tlingit people were moving freely between B.C. and Alaska when the object was created. "The mosquito mask of our sale was an exceptional piece with a rare provenance," said Charles-Wesley Hourde, an aboriginal art specialist at Christie's in Paris. The mask's great age, its "protruding nose and the freshness of the pigments explain the success of the piece," he added. "We had multiple phone bids from American Indian and modern art collectors." The mosquito mask was worn in ceremonies by a "clown character" who would try to make his audience laugh, said the Christie's sale catalogue. The mask's vibrant colours were produced with graphite, manganese and red ochre, and "the pigments were ground in stone mortars and mixed with salmon eggs chewed to a smooth paste, resulting in a rich, textured paint."
Posted 19 December 2011; 4:13:48 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 15 December 2011) -- A pond hockey game involving Yukon College students went viral on the video-sharing website YouTube this week. Gabe Rivest stumbled upon a smooth-as-glass lake on Windy Arm, which is part of Tagish Lake in Yukon. He grabbed six classmates and they hit the ice Sunday. Rivest posted video footage of the playful game on YouTube for his family and friends to see, but he was surprised when Sportsnet posted the video on its website. In just three days, more than 100,000 people had checked out Rivest's video. "I was totally not expecting it," he said. "I guess for lots of people in the world, it's probably a very amazing thing to see. It was unreal to be there." Rivest is now in Whistler, B.C., to coach the Yukon snowboarding team. He said he can hardly keep up with all the email he has been getting about the Windy Arm video [see it for yourself].
(CBC News, 17 December 2011) -- The federal government has denied an export permit for the Baymaud shipwreck resting in waters off Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. A group of investors wants to move the 100-year old wreck to Norway to be the centerpiece of a museum. The ship, originally named the Maud, was built to the specifications of Arctic explorer Roald Amundsen. Amundsen, a national hero in Norway, led the first successful sailing expedition through the Northwest Passage in the early 1900s. He sailed the Maud to the Arctic in the hopes of reaching the North Pole, but after several unsuccessful attempts, Amundsen was not able to pay his debts and the Maud was eventually seized by creditors. The ship was sold to the Hudson Bay Company in 1926 and renamed the Baymaud. It was used as a floating warehouse and wireless station in Cambridge Bay until it developed a leak and began sinking in 1930. It is owned by people in the Norwegian community of Asker, who purchased the wreck from the Hudson Bay Company for $1 in 1990. The Norwegian group’s application for an export permit was refused earlier this week. "We were a bit surprised,” said Jan Wanggaard, a spokesperson for the group Maud Returns Home. ... Wanggaard said they are asking for a review of the decision to deny the export permit. That will likely take place in March. Wanggaard said the Canadian government wants to know more about how the extraction of the boat will take place, and also wants more archeological studies to be done. "We are willing to negotiate this because we want very much to bring this ship home."
Posted 19 December 2011; 12:01:58 PM. Permalink
(NOAA News, 15 December 2011) -- A recent mission marked the completion of a five-year collaboration between the United States and Canada to survey the Arctic Ocean. The bilateral project collected scientific data to delineate the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from the coastline, also known as the extended continental shelf (ECS). The U.S. has an inherent interest in knowing, and declaring to others, the exact extent of its sovereign rights in the ocean as set forth in the Convention on the Law of the Sea. For the ECS, this includes sovereign rights over natural resources on and under the seabed including energy resources such as: oil and natural gas and gas hydrates; “sedentary” creatures such as clams, crabs, and corals; and mineral resources such as manganese nodules, ferromanganese crusts, and polymetallic sulfides. The 2011 joint Arctic mission spanned nearly six weeks in August and September and was the fourth year to employ flagship icebreakers from both countries, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy and the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Louis S. St-Laurent. “This two-ship approach was both productive and necessary in the Arctic’s difficult and varying ice conditions,” said Larry Mayer, Ph.D., U.S. chief scientist on the Arctic mission and co-director of the NOAA-University of New Hampshire Joint Hydrographic Center. “With one ship breaking ice for the other, the partnership increased the data either nation could have obtained operating alone, saved millions of dollars by ensuring data were collected only once, provided data useful to both nations for defining the extended continental shelf, and increased scientific and diplomatic cooperation”.
Posted 17 December 2011; 9:14:19 PM. Permalink
(Bob Weber/CP via Globe and Mail, 6 December 2011) -- Sections of Cold-War-era nautical charts obtained by The Canadian Press suggest that Russian mariners have for decades possessed detailed and accurate knowledge of crucial internal waterways such as the Northwest Passage. Those charts, which may offer the first documentary proof of the widely held belief that Soviet nuclear submarines routinely patrolled the Canadian Arctic during the Cold War, are still in use by Russian vessels. In some places, they are preferred to current Canadian charts. “In some cases the Russian charts are more detailed than the Canadian ones and the navigators have them out on the chart table beside the Canadian ones in order to cross-reference any questionable soundings,” said Aaron Lawton of One Ocean Expeditions, an adventure tourism company that charters the Russian-owned ship Academik Ioffe for Arctic cruises. “I have travelled on the Ioffe in the Canadian Arctic for (many) seasons and have generally found that the vessel has always cross-referenced the Russian charts,” Mr. Lawton said in an e-mail from on board the Ioffe off the Antarctic coast. The Ioffe is owned by the Moscow-based P.P. Shirsov Institute of Oceanography. Vladimir Tereschenkov, head of marine operations, said the Russian charts were published by the Russian Hydrographic Service. The sections seen by The Canadian Press are photographs of charts in current use on the Ioffe. Compiled from information gleaned over the years up to 1970, they are clearly marked with Soviet insignia, including the red star and the hammer and sickle. Both sections are of highly strategic Arctic waterways. ... Both sections of the charts contain many more depth soundings than corresponding modern Canadian charts. ...the only way the Soviet government could have acquired data for the charts is from nuclear submarines secretly patrolling the Arctic. “It confirms what many of us assumed,” said Mr. Byers. “The Soviet navy was extremely capable and also was willing to take considerable risk. Sending submarines into the Canadian archipelago, which was heavily monitored by NATO, thousands of miles away from Soviet assistance, was a perilous thing to do. It was a phenomenal accomplishment.” Mr. Byers said the charts are the first public proof he’s seen of that theory. They suggest that the capabilities of the Soviet navy portrayed in movies may not be entirely fiction.
Posted 7 December 2011; 11:34:46 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 30 November 2011) -- The future of Arctic sovereignty will be riding on traditional Inuit wooden sleds that are being assembled by a group of Canadian Rangers in Yellowknife. The nine Rangers have been tasked with building more than 30 qamutiks — sleds that are traditionally used to haul supplies over snow and ice — for use in guarding remote northern regions and promoting Canada's claim of sovereignty over the Arctic. The Rangers, who were commissioned by the Canadian Ranger Patrol for the sled surveillance project, all hail from Nunavut and include six people chosen from Clyde River and three from Pond Inlet. "We grew up with dog teams and we would build qamutiks for dogs to pull … but today the qamutiks are pulled by snow machines and we're making smaller versions of qamutiks," Elijah Panipakoocho of Clyde River told CBC News in Inuktitut. The select members of the group were chosen based on their skill and craftsmanship, said David Suqslaq, who is in charge of the operation scheduled to last until Dec. 9. Suqslaq, who is from Pond Inlet, said he will oversee the qamutik construction to ensure his crew is "working sections like cross-pieces" to build the sleds properly. The Rangers are trained residents in northern communities who provide support during military and search and rescue operations.
Posted 1 December 2011; 10:05:53 AM. Permalink
(Canadian Press via Eye on the Arctic, 28 November 2011) -- Inuit in Canada's eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut expect to receive hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade after passing a resolution to charge a new royalty on Arctic resources. The group that administers the Nunavut land claim, Nunavut Tunngavik, says it will start collecting the 12 per cent royalty on April 1, 2013. Nunavut Tunngavik estimates it will collect nearly half a billion dollars from the royalty in its first six years. The money will be placed in a trust fund and spent by Inuit organizations. Mining groups say the royalty was expected and isn't likely to affect operations in the territory. Nunavut's mining industry is increasingly active, with $2.4 billion spent on exploration since 1999 and 82 active properties.
Posted 30 November 2011; 11:28:37 AM. Permalink
(CJCD Mix 100 News via hqyellowknife.com, 25 November 2011) -- Yellowknife, N.W.T. - Whether it's building, buying, or renting - housing costs in the NWT are through the roof. Carleton University PhD student, Nick Falvo, made that point clear on Thursday. After a two-and-a-half year study, he presented a report on housing at Yellowknife's City Hall. Nick Falvo said government funding is critical to maintain housing. "In 1993, the federal government discontinued its ongoing, permanent commitment to social housing. So, since that time there have been some one-off announcements of funding, but there's never been an ongoing, long-term commitment." Falvo's report says that the cost of utilities in the territory is double that of the rest of Canada, and that it costs twice as much to build a home on the Arctic coast than it does in Hay River or Fort Smith. Falvo and Arlene Hache, the executive director of the Centre for Northern Families, released a report on homelessness to the GNWT in May, and Falvo said little has been done to address it. "Wendy Bisaro did table the homelessness report in the legislature, and she has asked questions since that time, and there was some discussion about the report in the lead up to the territorial election. But, we're still waiting for an actual response from the Government of the Northwest Territories." After the presentation, Hache and Bisaro, the MLA for Frame Lake, joined a panel discussion to talk housing in the NWT.
Posted 28 November 2011; 11:04:05 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 27 November 2011) -- The federal government will move ahead with its planned military facility in Resolute, Nunavut. Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised an Arctic warfare training facility in 2007. The facility looks like it will now become reality, but with a few changes to the original plan. The new facility will focus mainly on training for disasters. "I think the tragic event of this past fall highlighted the need for being able to have a facility that we can operate out of,” said Maj. Bill Chambré with the Department of National Defence. In August, 12 people died when a 737-jet slammed in to a hill near the airport. Soldiers responded right away and helped save three lives because they happened to be training in Resolute at the time. Chambré says instead of a facility dedicated solely to protecting Canadian Arctic sovereignty, soldiers there will learn how to respond to accidents and disasters in the High Arctic. "My focus is mainly building a training facility but to also have a facility where we can conduct operations." The facility will be built on to the existing Polar Continental Shelf Project research base, which is already the largest in the community. It will have a warehouse for 40 snowmobiles and ATVs, accommodations for 140 people, and a small infirmary. It will also have an operations centre and classrooms. The building’s price tag is $18 million and the final design is expected to be complete by next month. Chambré insists it is not the permanent search and rescue base northerners have called for because it’s unlikely the military will use the facility year round. The government plans to work out of the facility mostly during winter, with people from other government departments working there mainly in summer. “I certainly don't see this going idle, especially when we have two government departments sharing,” said Chambré. Building materials will arrive in Resolute on the next sealift, and construction is scheduled to be complete by 2013.
Posted 28 November 2011; 12:09:03 AM. Permalink
(Nunatsiaq News, 23 November 2011) -- Three Inuit women will receive National Aboriginal Achievement Awards in 2012. The awards, which celebrate excellence in the country’s First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities, go to federal health minister and Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq in the field of politics, Nunatsiavut lawyer Violet Ford in law and justice, and Nunavik Regional Government negotiator Minnie Grey for her public service. ... The three Inuit recipients are among 14 winners announced for 2012. Recipients will receive their awards at a gala event to be hosted and televised in 2012.
Posted 24 November 2011; 1:38:13 PM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 23 November 2011) -- Russia and Canada are talking about a revival of the Arctic Bridge – a sea route connecting Murmansk and Churchill. The Arctic Bridge is a seasonal sea route linking Murmansk in Northern Russia with Churchill in Hudson Bay, Canada. Now, the route is only easily navigable about four months of the year, but it will become more and more viable as the climate warms. Both Canada and Russia will benefit from using the Arctic Brigde, said Jeff McEachern from Port of Churchill at a forum in Krasnoyarsk on Siberia and the Arctic, m51 writes, citing RIA Novosti. Russia will get easier access to Northern American markets, while Canada can use the Northen Sea Route from Murmansk to Asia. The concept of an "Arctic Bridge", with a hub in Churchill, was proposed by Canadians in the early 1990s. A protocol of intent on the establishment of a seaways trade route between Murmansk Oblast and the Province of Manitoba was signed in 2002. The first shipment on the Arctic Bridge was conducted in October 2007, when the Murmansk Shipping Company’s vessel Kapitan Sviridov transported nitrogen fertilizers to Churchill, BarentsObserver then reported.
Posted 23 November 2011; 11:46:12 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 17 November 2011) -- For the first time, Nunavut Arctic College is offering a free online university course to residents of the territory. In co-operation with the University of the Arctic, the college is making the Introduction to the Circumpolar World course available free-of-charge. "If you've ever thought about taking a university course or if you have taken university courses but you'd just like to have a university-look at the Arctic, this is a good opportunity," said Jack Hicks, university studies co-ordinator with Nunavut Arctic College. Hicks said the college also offered the course last year, but at a cost, and the school now wants to see if that prevented anyone from taking the course. Introduction to the Circumpolar World is a broad, survey course on the Arctic, its environment, people and issues. It's a first-year university level course and is the pre-requisite for taking further University of the Arctic courses in circumpolar studies.
Posted 17 November 2011; 3:24:04 PM. Permalink
(Eye on the Arctic, 10 November 2011) -- Community mayors in Canada's eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut, previously opposed to a planned port at Steensby Inlet for the Mary River Iron Ore project, now say they would not object to it if the communities were compensated. "I'll want to work with them directly to ensure people of Hall Beach benefit directly with Baffinland, not through QIA (Qikiqtani Inuit Association)," said Hall Beach Mayor Ammie Kipsigak, speaking in Inuktitut. "QIA and NTI (Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.) will be giving a bit of royalty money to our community, but we will want direct benefits. For example, a meat processing plant or a fish plant and they would pay." Paul Quassa, acting mayor of Igloolik, said his community is asking Baffinland for new houses and paved roads, as well as a fish plant. "They should give us a fish plant so that we can utilize the hundred thousand pounds of commercial fishery that is available in Steensby." “QIA and NTI (Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.) will be giving a bit of royalty money to our community, but we will want direct benefits. For example, a meat processing plant or a fish plant and they would pay.” Paul Quassa, acting mayor of Igloolik, said his community is asking Baffinland for new houses and paved roads, as well as a fish plant. "They should give us a fish plant so that we can utilize the hundred thousand pounds of commercial fishery that is available in Steensby." In a letter sent Oct. 4 to the Nunavut Impact Review Board, Quassa wrote that people in Igloolik "continue to express grave reservations over the Steensby site [but] many are at least willing to consider what benefits might accrue directly to our community if it becomes clear the proposed port site cannot be avoided."
Posted 11 November 2011; 4:02:05 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 11 November 2011) -- Ptarmigan populations could be in trouble in Yukon. The population cycle of the birds in the territory has so far been predictable, but Yukon biologist Dave Mossop says it looks like the last cycle didn't happen. "The 10-year cycle that's followed by all of the grouse, including ptarmigan, as well as hares and some others, their predators, has been tracked for well over 100 years in North America and it looks like this last cycle basically didn't happen,” said Mossop. “It doesn't look like things are going extinct. It's just that we lost that peak and it could be very troubling." Mossop says scientists don't know what's causing the change, but he says they're seeing it across a large area of the North.
Posted 11 November 2011; 3:21:57 PM. Permalink
(Rod Nickel/Reuters, 11 November 2011) -- Winnipeg, MB - Every summer for three months, the Hudson Bay ice breaks up and ships load Canadian Prairie grain for export, putting more than 100 people to work in the tiny northern Manitoba town of Churchill. The town of just 900 - well known for the polar bears that often wander through its streets - is Canada's only Arctic port. But that key driver of the local economy could become as endangered as the polar bear next year when the Canadian Wheat Board, the port's biggest shipper, loses its monopoly on marketing Western Canadian wheat and barley. The Wheat Board will become a smaller grain-pooling option for farmers starting next August, according to legislation being put through Parliament by the Conservative government, and that could threaten Churchill's long-standing share of grain shipments. The CWB has previously favored the northern port for its cost savings, thanks to its proximity to Prairie farmers and access to some European markets. But big grain handlers like Viterra, Richardson International Ltd and Cargill may be more likely to use port terminals they own on the Great Lakes and or on the West Coast to ship grain overseas. "[The port] brings a lot of out-of-towners here and local businesses get a boost off of it," said Michlynn Gulick, a local manager for trucking firm Gardewine North, adding she's optimistic the port will remain busy. "It's been here forever."
Posted 11 November 2011; 2:26:45 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 8 November 2011) -- A doll named Saila Qilavvaq that hails from Iqaluit is one of the top Canadian toys of the year, according to the Canadian Toy Testing Council. Saila is the latest Maplelea doll from Avonlea Traditions, a company based in Newmarket, Ont. She's 46 centimetres tall and has long black hair, fake seal-skin kamiks (traditional boots) and comes with a journal in Inuktitut, English and French. The Ottawa-based council rates toys, after letting children try them out for a few weeks. The council said Saila made the top 10 of the 2012 Children's Choice toy awards because people like Saila's realistic look and her beautiful clothing — some of which is made in Nunavut. Kathryn Morton, president of Avonlea Traditions, said people who collect the dolls wanted one that came from the North, and they chose Nunavut. "I decided that the only way I could really learn what it was like to be a 10-year-old girl growing up in Iqaluit was to go there,” she said. “And so my family and I went there for 10 days over Christmas two years ago and we met a lot of people and talked to a lot of people and learned a lot about Nunavut." That trip helped Morton connect with some of Nunavut's artists and small businesses. Saila has many different accessories that can be purchased separately, some of which are made in Nunavut. One of them is a genuine "Pang hat," which are crocheted by women in Pangnirtung and worn by people all over Nunavut. Saila's hat was designed specifically for her and has created some new employment in Pangnirtung. "We were able to ask a number of younger women in the community to start crocheting Pang hats, but they’re doll-size Pang hats, so that has been very exciting to involve young women," said Deborah Hickman, co-ordinator at the Uqqurmiut Centre for Arts and Crafts in Pangnirtung.
Posted 9 November 2011; 12:44:50 AM. Permalink
(Margo McDiarmid/Eye on the Arctic via Alaska Dispatch, 6 November 2011) -- Three leading Canadian atmospheric scientists are urging MPs and senators to think very carefully before they agree to cuts to ozone monitoring in Canada. Prof. Thomas Duck, an expert in polar atmospheric research at Dalhousie University in Halifax, was one of the scientists who met over breakfast with 30 MPs and senators Tuesday in Ottawa to talk about Canada's role in monitoring the ozone layer and to explain the surprise discovery of a huge hole over the Arctic. "Our visit comes at a time when the government is considering cuts to Environment Canada that will impact programs that protect the health and safety of Canadians," Duck told journalists after the breakfast. ... This latest discovery comes at a time when more than 760 people at Environment Canada are waiting to hear about their jobs. The employees were sent letters in the summer warning their positions could be eliminated as part of overall government cuts. They include scientists who run the ozone monitoring. Duck said the message to the MPs and senators Tuesday was to not rush into cuts.
Posted 8 November 2011; 12:57:31 AM. Permalink
(Randy Boswell/Postmedia News in The Vancouver Sun, 31 October 2011) -- A 340-year-old coin from China has been unearthed by archeologists near a planned gold mine in the Yukon, shedding fresh light on historic trade links between 17th-century Chinese merchants, Russian fur traders and First Nations in the northwest corner of North America. The coin is etched with traditional Chinese characters indicating it was minted during the Qing Dynasty reign of Emperor Kangxi, who ruled China from 1662 to 1722. But other information stamped on the money piece — which has a large central hole and four smaller ones — shows it was minted in China's Zhili province between 1667 and 1671. The coin was discovered during a dig near Western Copper and Gold Corp.'s proposed Casino mine site about 300 kilometres northwest of Whitehorse. A heritage impact assessment for the Vancouver mining company was being conducted by Ecofor Consulting Ltd., based in B.C. and the Yukon, when the find was made. Ecofor team leader James Mooney spotted the metal object as a co-worker dug into the ground on a height of land south of the Yukon River. "I was less than a metre from our archeologist Kirby Booker when she turned over the first shovel of topsoil and I caught sight of something dangling from the turf," Mooney said in a statement. "It was the coin — the neatest discovery I've ever been part of." Subsequent research revealed that it was just the third historic Chinese coin ever found in the Yukon, though many more have been recovered at archeological sites in coastal Alaska. "The coin adds to the body of evidence that the Chinese market connected with Yukon First Nations through Russian and coastal Tlingit trade intermediaries during the late 17th and 18th centuries, and perhaps as early as the 15th century," the statement said. Russian traders seeking furs from North American wildlife — including the sea otter, seal and beaver — are known to have exchanged tobacco, tea, kettles and other goods (some obtained from Chinese traders) with the Tlingit peoples of coastal Alaska.
Posted 1 November 2011; 12:19:42 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 29 October 2011) -- Former aboriginal students who say the RCMP herded them off to residential schools are expressing a sense of validation following the release of a report into the Mounties' role in the notorious school system. However, not all the survivors believe the report will help with their healing. The RCMP released the report Saturday at a Halifax session of the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which is looking into how 150,000 aboriginal children were taken from their families over more than a century. The 463-page report found that the RCMP had a major involvement in bringing students from First Nation communities to the residential schools. Various data sources were collected over a 30-month period between April 2007 and September 2009 to answer questions about the RCMP's relationship with schools, students, federal agencies and departments. ... The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has been holding public sessions in Halifax since Wednesday. The report says that at times, RCMP withheld information from parents of residential school students about what was happening with their children, and at times they acted like truant officers to schools. "Students saw themselves herded like cattle and brought into RCMP cars and taken into school. What they say is that these stories have come out throughout the years, but what this does today is validate those stories and show that they were true," CBC reporter Michael Dick said in Halifax. RCMP stress in the report that the force did not know what was going on behind the schools' walls, where abuse was rampant, and that they were trying to act in the best interest with the information they knew at the time. The Mounties stressed that the abuse in residential schools happened all over the country. Approximately 150,000 aboriginal children were forced to attend residential schools. The Mounties were summoned to forcibly take the children to the schools if their families resisted sending them away.
Posted 29 October 2011; 12:16:25 PM. Permalink
(University of Manitoba Newsroom, 27 October 2011) -- In an address to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission today, University of Manitoba President and Vice-Chancellor David Barnard offered a statement of apology and reconciliation on the subject of the Indian Residential School system. “We feel it’s important to stand with our Aboriginal students, staff and faculty in making this statement of reconciliation,” said Barnard. “Our best opportunity for a brighter future is to build a foundation of academic success and ensure that the values of First Nations, Métis and Inuit cultures and communities infuse scholarship and research across the university.” Barnard said while post-secondary institutions did not fund or operate Indian Residential Schools, the University of Manitoba failed to recognize and challenge the Indian Residential School system and damaging assimilation policies that were at the core of the system. “We did not live up to our goals, our ideals, our hard-earned reputation or our mandate,” said Barnard. “Our institution failed to recognize or challenge the forced assimilation of Aboriginal peoples and the subsequent loss of their language, culture and traditions. That was a grave mistake. It is our responsibility. We are sorry.” The president said the university also educated clergy, teachers and politicians who created and ran the residential school system.
Posted 28 October 2011; 2:16:54 PM. Permalink
(Bob Weber/The Canadian Press via Yahoo! News, 25 October 2011) -- Coca-Cola Ltd. is changing its iconic can — and pledging millions of dollars — to help scientists plan how other icons such as polar bears can survive in Canada's melting Arctic. Coca-Cola and the World Wildlife Fund have announced a project called Arctic Home, to which the global corporate giant has committed $2 million over five years, with another million promised to match donations from the public. The money is to fund research programs in the High Arctic related to habitat and wildlife survival, particularly with regard to polar bears. Arctic experts say it's vital work that governments aren't doing as they increasingly focus on research directly related to development. "This is probably the way we need to go," said Andy Derocher, one of the world's leading polar bear scientists from the University of Alberta. "We need to find these private partnerships with non-governmental organizations that want to work with northern communities to try to establish long-term conservation monitoring programs. We are not seeing that leadership come from the federal government." Some of the money is to pay for ground-level conservation, such as migration research or polar bear fences in communities that have lots of nearby bears. But Arctic Home also has larger advocacy goals, said WWF Canada CEO Gerald Butts.
Posted 26 October 2011; 11:29:33 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 18 October 2011) -- The federal government has cut three quarters of the University of the Arctic’s budget, forcing the organization to scale down its operations in Canada. The online university was created in 2001 and has more than 120 institutions across the circumpolar world, 33 of which are in Canada. It has had more than 10,000 registrations for its courses since 2002. The federal government has not released information on the reason for the cuts. The cuts are renewing debate about how to bring much-needed training, skills and human development to northerners. "We're at a little bit of an impasse," said Hayley Hesseln, the consortium's dean of undergraduate admissions, based at the University of Saskatchewan. "What we've come down to now is a matter of different values and different needs." None of the world's 50 universities located north of the 60th parallel is in Canada and that lack has been loudly decried by former governors general Adrienne Clarkson and Michaelle Jean. Higher education in the North has been a federal goal since the last Liberal government. The need for everyone from nurses to administrators has long been pointed out by industry and government. Nunavut can't fully staff its civil service because too few Inuit have the appropriate education. ... Although UArctic gets funding from the Finnish and Norwegian governments, the Canadian government has always been one of its biggest backers. Taxpayers contributed about $3.8 million between 2004 and 2010. But earlier this year, Ottawa informed the university that its funding would be chopped to about $150,000 from more than $700,000. The reason, said Hesseln, was that the three territorial governments have never chipped in any of their own cash, which was a condition for long-term federal commitment.
Posted 21 October 2011; 12:18:15 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 20 October 2011) -- A new satellite launched Wednesday is promising to provide access to higher broadband internet speeds in rural Canada. ViaSat-1, launched aboard a Proton rocket in Kazakhstan on Wednesday afternoon, will be able to support "4G" download speeds of up to 25 megabits per second and provide broadband service to 1.5 million customers in North America, says Xplornet Communications Inc. The company says ViaSat-1 has a capacity greater than all other existing North American broadband satellites combined. Xplornet says it has purchased 100 per cent of the Canadian capacity within a certain range of spectrum for the satellite called the Ka band and will be using that entirely for rural broadband. The Canadian government kicked in $28 million dollars to help the private company expand its rural broadband offerings.
Posted 21 October 2011; 12:15:25 PM. Permalink
(Tristin Hopper/National Post, 10 October 2011) -- The Coast Guard icebreaker Louis St. Laurent has freed innumerable ice-locked vessels, explored the unseen depths of the Arctic bottom and hosted prime ministers and the world’s top Arctic scientists. Recently, however, the bright red workhorse of Canada’s marine Arctic presence has been doing not much of anything. For the past two weeks, the 111-metre icebreaker has been stranded off the Nunavut coast by a loose propeller nut. Since Sept. 27, the ship’s bobbing red form has been a familiar sight from the shores of the 1,500-person Arctic hamlet of Cambridge Bay. The ship was stranded by a maddeningly simple malfunction: A nut on the centre propeller that was knocked out of place by no more than a few inches. ... A crew of 48 remain on board, along with a team of Vancouver-based underwater ship repair specialists. The team of cold water divers are scrambling to get the ship operational before freeze-up, which is only weeks away.The Louis St. Laurent experienced frequent propeller malfunctions into the 1990s due to the propellers being constructed from inferior metal. The Coast Guard repaired the problem in 2000 by installing stainless steel propellers. Regardless, last year the ship experienced a similar propeller shaft breakdown. Built in 1969, the Louis St. Laurent is due for a long-awaited retirement in 2017, when the $720 million John Diefenbaker is set to take its place. “We feel it is a very capable vessel and it can do the job but, at the same time, it is now 40 years old and it is getting time to think about a replacement,” George Da Pont, commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard, told a Senate committee in 2008.
Posted 11 October 2011; 3:18:49 PM. Permalink
(Scott Haggett/Reuters, 6 October 2011) -- A wayward satellite has cut communications for much of northern Canada, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp reported on Thursday. The CBC said on its website that Telesat Canada's Anik F2 satellite, which provides communications for Canada's sparsely populated Arctic, had pointed towards the sun, cutting long-distance phone service for 39 communities in the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. The loss of the satellite signal meant most flights in Nunavut had been canceled, while bank machines and cell phones in territory's capital, Iqaluit, a town of 7,250 on Baffin Island, weren't working Telesat Canada said the satellite suffered from a "technical anomaly" that began early on Thursday morning but the company had regained control and expected service to soon return to normal. The satellite, manufactured by Boeing Corp (BA.N), was put in service in 2004.
Posted 11 October 2011; 3:10:29 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 4 October 2011) -- Groups across the country will be gathering to remember and honour missing or murdered aboriginal women, including several communities in Yukon. The Sisters in Spirit campaign, part of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, has dedicated Oct. 4 as a day of vigil and will also hold events in nine provinces including Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, Quebec and Nova Scotia as well as the Northwest Territories. There are more than 582 missing aboriginal women in Canada, according to data released Sisters in Spirit. Jayla Rousseau-Thomas, who is co-ordinating the vigils in the Yukon, said that includes 29 from the territory. “That’s more than one per community,” she said. “That’s more than one per First Nation. That’s a lot of women who are no longer with us, who’ve been missing or remain missing or are murdered.”
Posted 5 October 2011; 12:01:01 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 4 October 2011) -- Two people died when an Air Tindi passenger plane crashed east of Yellowknife Tuesday afternoon and two others survived, although their conditions have not yet been disclosed. A Twin Otter medevac flight carrying the two survivors arrived in Yellowknife at about 6:30 p.m. MT Tuesday, officials confirmed. Both people have since been transferred to Stanton Territorial Hospital in Yellowknife. Yellowknife-based Air Tindi has not released any names, but did confirm there were four people on the Cessna 208B aircraft, including the pilot. The Transportation Safety Board of Canada will send two investigators to the crash site from its Edmonton office on Wednesday.
Posted 4 October 2011; 11:45:33 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 12 September 2011) -- A major four-year research project looking at global warming's impact on permafrost and how it will affect Arctic development is getting underway. Laval University in Quebec City is leading the $4-million study with a grant from the federal government. The ADAPT project will look at melting permafrost and snow conditions and their impact on the landscape, water and wildlife in the North. Fifteen researchers, ranging from engineers to hydrologists, will also study how these changes are affecting communities and natural resource development and exploitation. The 10-university team of scientists will use the information to come up with an adaptation strategy. The research sites are located throughout the three territories, Nunavik in northern Quebec and Nunatsiavut in Labrador. The researchers will collaborate with teams from other countries around the world. Long-time Arctic researcher Warwick Vincent, a Laval University biologist and director of the multi-university Centre for Northern Studies, is leading the project.
Posted 12 September 2011; 3:32:56 PM. Permalink
(Nadine Sander-Green/Whitehorse Daily Star, 9 September 2011) -- Only three days before Premier Darrell Pasloski announced the territorial election, one Burwash Landing resident started a political party. Gerald Dickson, a member of the Kluane First Nations, registered the Yukon First Nations Party on Tuesday. He already has the mandatory two candidates to be considered an official party in the election. Dickson, 47, is the leader of the newly-formed party and will also run as a candidate in Kluane. Stanley James, longtime Carcross resident, will represent Mount Lorne-Southern Lakes. Dickson said Thursday there also might be a candidate interested in running in Pelly-Nisutlin. Stacey Hassard defeated incumbent Justice Minister Marian Horne for that riding’s nomination last month. Dickson said the reason he started the party is simple: his elders’ voices are not being heard. Action, he said, is required to manifest the traditional laws of respect, honour, love, compassion and harmony. And Dickson believes only First Nations people can really understand First Nations issues. “We want the natural laws to be honoured and respected,” he said. Sustaining First Nations’ natural and cultural resources, Dickson told the Star, is at the very heart of the party’s beliefs. He did admit, though, that he hasn’t yet sat down with James nor other people interested in the party to flesh out its policies and platform.
Posted 12 September 2011; 3:30:35 PM. Permalink
(Chris Windeyer/Nunatsiaq News, 29 August 2011) -- Iqaluit faces the prospect of several days of rolling blackouts after the main generator at the city’s power plant broke down during the early morning hours of Aug. 29. Power was out early Monday in the Plateau subdivision, parts of Tundra Ridge and Apex. The Government of Nunavut also announced on Twitter that all schools in Iqaluit are closed. Schools will re-open Wednesday, Aug. 31, the GN said. Peter Mackey, president of Qulliq Energy Corp., said the outages began when the power plant’s main generator broke down at the same time that another generator had been taken offline for maintenance. The engine’s turbo system suffered a malfunction of a major component that’s not easily replaced, Mackey said. “It’s not something that’s kept on the shelf,” he said. The two remaining generators can only produce 5.2 megawatts of the 7.5 megawatts Iqaluit needs to fully function during the summer. QEC put replacement parts on rush order, but Mackey said the soonest Iqaluit could be back at full power is Wednesday.
Posted 29 August 2011; 2:45:45 PM. Permalink
(Editorial/Globe and Mail, 28 August 2011) -- Statements by France’s ambassador for the polar regions, Michel Rocard, that Canada appears to have given up on competing with Russia for Arctic commercial shipping traffic, should serve as a wake up call for Canadians. It may be that the country prefers the Northwest Passage as it is, a slightly-used backwater that best protects the fragile Arctic ecosystem and the traditional Inuit way of life. But if Canadians favour sustainable development in the north, and jobs for northerners, then they are in danger of missing the boat. A study by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program, released in May, revealed the cover of sea ice on the Arctic Ocean is shrinking faster than projected by the U.N.’s expert panel on climate change. It predicts that the Arctic Ocean itself will be virtually free of ice in summer within 30-40 years. The Northwest Passage is forecast to be free of ice earlier than that, in perhaps 20 years. ... Yet Canada, despite having a federal government committed to its own Arctic strategy and sustainable development in that largely untapped region, is unprepared for commercial shipping in the Northwest Passage. The infrastructure needed to support such activity does not exist, and there is little sign that will change. Mr. Rochard, a former French prime minister, said he has the “impression that Canada has given up on the competition to attract a large part of the (shipping) traffic in 25 or 30 years.” Russia, by contrast, is actively pursuing the opportunity. It may be that Canadians are content with this situation, as the costs would be substantial and such development would alter the fundamental nature of Canada’s North. But isn’t it at least a discussion we should be having?
Posted 29 August 2011; 1:33:42 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 26 August 2011) -- Archeologists in the Arctic hoping to find Sir John Franklin's long-lost ships neared the end of their latest search Friday with no shipwreck in sight. It appears HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, two of the most sought-after wrecks in Canada, will remain undiscovered for now. Parks Canada archeologists spent the last six days combing an area west of King William Island, where explorers seeking the Northwest Passage stopped or, in the case of Franklin, got stranded in ice. Erebus and Terror vanished in the High Arctic more than 160 years ago, along with the famous British explorer and 128 crew. This was the third year of a three-year-program to find Erebus and Terror, but searches for the two ships and remnants of Franklin's failed 1845 expedition began almost immediately after he disappeared. Marc-Andre Bernier, Parks Canada's chief of underwater archeology, says it is too soon to say whether the search program might be extended beyond this year. Crews in two boats have been using sonar to map the ocean floor, he said. But a plan to use a new underwater robotic vehicle fell apart. "We weren't able to deploy it," he said. "We're hoping if we continue next year, that's going to be available, but unfortunately for this year, we ran into some technical problems at the last minute, so that actually could not be used on this survey" Even if Erebus and Terror remain lost, Bernier said, the expedition, run from the coast guard icebreaker Sir Wilfrid Laurier, has been useful for mapping the area. Similar searches were conducted in 2010 and 2008, when small bits of copper sheeting were uncovered that may have belonged to Franklin's ships. A search effort was called off in 2009 because Parks Canada could not secure a Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker to assist with the project.
Posted 26 August 2011; 4:03:33 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 22 August 2011) -- Two years ago scientists feared northern caribou were the new cod — once-teeming stocks of wildlife that had sustained entire cultures but were at the edge of collapse. Now, as scientists from around the world gather in Yellowknife to compare notes, biologists are beginning to see signs that the worst is past for an animal so central to the Canadian imagination it's on the back of the quarter. "Our situation overall is looking a lot brighter than it did two years ago," said Jan Adamczewski, a biologist with the government of the Northwest Territories. "Those of us concerned with management of these caribou herds are breathing just a little bit easier." About 230 scientists from around the circumpolar world are meeting this week at a conference held once every four years on Arctic ungulates. They'll talk about muskox and reindeer, too, but the recent changes in caribou are sure to be a large part of the agenda. In 2009, nine of Canada's 11 northern herds were considered to be in decline. Biologists estimated the Bathurst population on the central barrens had fallen to 32,000 from more than 120,000 in 2006. That was a 75 per cent implosion, a loss of nearly 90,000 animals in only three years. But since then both the Cape Bathurst and Bluenose East herds have stabilized. The Bluenose East herd is back up over 100,000 animals. Yukon's Porcupine herd is approaching 1980s levels. And preliminary surveys in 2010 and 2011 of the Bathurst herd hint the free fall may have bottomed out. "It kind of looks like maybe we've turned the corner there," said Adamczewski. "There's a very slight indication that the herd may be starting to increase."
Posted 26 August 2011; 3:54:19 PM. Permalink
(Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada) -- The Yukon is a land of trailblazers in Aboriginal self-government. Since 1995, 11 of Yukon's 14 First Nations have become self-governing, and account for more than half of the national total of self-governing First Nations. In this podcast series, Voices of Vision: Yukon Aboriginal Self-Government, some of the key people who have been involved in the continuing journey of self-government and implementation share their stories in their own words. The podcast series, Voices of Vision: Yukon Aboriginal Self-Government, was created in partnership with the Council of Yukon First Nations, the Government of Yukon, the Government of Canada and Self-Governing Yukon First Nations.
Posted 21 August 2011; 9:22:52 AM. Permalink