(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
(Regnum, 8 October 2012) -- As of 5 October, 3,546 educational institutions of a total of 5,440 are connected to district heating (65%). These figures were reported on 8 October by the press service of the Far Eastern envoy after a meeting chaired by the Minister for Development of the Far East - the presidential envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District Viktor Ishayev. At a meeting called to discuss preparations for winter, it was announced that 1,308 health facilities of 2,452 were connected to district heating (53%). Health care facilities in the Sakhalin (22) and Khabarovsk (278) regions have yet to be connected. 67% of Far East homes are connected to district heating. The envoy called on the authorities to fully provide heat to institutions of education and health care. He also instructed officials to undertake appropriate checks across the districts to identify connection problems and to get them fixed. [this is an edited version of the original]
Posted 14 October 2012; 5:18:29 PM. Permalink
(Radio Sweden, 8 October 2012) -- Arctic Sweden's northernmost city is moving east. The mining that has been the lifeblood of Kiruna town for over a hundred years has also undermined its buildings some are already sinking into the ground. Architects, from Sweden and abroad, have been competing to be the ones to create New Kiruna. To get the latest on the plans we talked to Katerina Nilsson, secretary of the jury deciding which plan to go with. [radio]
Posted 14 October 2012; 3:55:11 PM. Permalink
(Emily Schwing/KUAC - Fairbanks via Eye on the Arctic, 11 October 2012) -- The Arctic Village of Kivalina may run out of fresh water this winter. Governor Sean Parnell declared a disaster in the village last month after heavy rainfall flooded the Wulik River and washed away some of the city's surface water piping. By the time the state Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management had shipped a new high speed pump and pipe to the community, it was too late according to City Administrator, Janet Mitchell. Slush clogged the pipes and the crew gave up. It's not clear how much water made it into the tanks. Mitchell, who grew up in Kivalina, says residents have always tried to conserve water. But the majority of Kivalina's 436 residents don't have boats or snowmachines to access large quantities of fresh drinking water. So they use the local washeteria. It's unlikely to remain open through the winter.
Posted 12 October 2012; 3:19:17 PM. 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
(Coastal Care, 21 September 2012) -- ... the village of Shishmaref in North Western Alaska, inhabited for 400 years, is currently facing evacuation due to rising temperatures, which are causing a reduction in sea ice, thawing of permafrost along the coast. The reduced sea ice allows higher storm surges to reach shore and thawing permafrost makes the shoreline more vulnerable to erosion. The town’s homes, water system and infrastructure are being undermined. A federal appeals court has ruled against the northwest Alaska village of Kivalina, which sued energy companies over claims that greenhouse emissions contributed to global warming that is threatening the community’s existence. The eroding village sought monetary damages to help with the estimated $400 million to relocate…
Posted 22 September 2012; 10:40:02 AM. Permalink
(Russia and India Report, 6 April 2012, running time 26:10) -- The tiny village of Shoina in Russia’s Arctic faces a daily battle against advancing sands, which appeared over 50 years ago and have been covering the land ever since.
Posted 9 May 2012; 2:08:19 PM. Permalink
(Iceland Review) -- As the largest town outside the capital region, Akureyri (pop. 17,000), is the industrial and service capital for North Iceland as well as a center for culture and education with strong historical roots and numerous tourist attractions. The Artists’ Alley is the town’s cultural center and one of its most colorful attractions. The alley is literally crawling with bohemians and art lovers during the annual Summer Art Festival from mid-June to the end of August. Akureyri has fostered some of Iceland’s most beloved writers and their spirits greet visitors in their homes-cum-museums, and at the local Folk Museum visitors can learn about the town’s history since Helgi magri (“the skinny”) settled there in the 9th century. The Akureyri Theater, the only professional theater outside the capital region, is also worth a visit.
Posted 18 April 2012; 11:05:15 AM. Permalink
(Mark Thiessen/Bloomberg Businessweek, 29 March 2012) -- The measure of how challenging it can be to live in Nome, Alaska, starts with a dollar sign. There are plentiful, painful reminders all over this Bering Sea coastal community. At the grocery store, it's $39.25 for a 12-roll package of paper towels. Toilet paper costs $37.85 for a 36-roll package. Want a 2-liter of Diet Pepsi? It's on sale this week for $4.49. At a restaurant, breakfast for one will run about $16. And the price for a gallon of gas is well above the national average, at $5.96 a gallon. If there's any good news for the 3,500 residents of Nome, it's that gas is cheap compared to what it could have been. One of the two main fuel suppliers for Nome didn't have the last barge arrive before the Bering Sea froze for the winter. Bonanza Fuel considered flying in fuel from Anchorage, but the cost would have made gas prices jump to $9 or $10 a gallon. Instead, Bonanza arranged for a Russian tanker to make a 5,000-mile journey, and with the help of a U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker, it made the first-ever winter delivery by sea to Nome when it brought in 1.3 million gallons in early January. The painstaking delivery played out as a worldwide media drama. When the Coast Guard vessel Healy and the Russian tanker Renda sailed off, everyone waited to see where Bonanza would set the price of their fuel, fearful that Bonanza's parent company, Sitnasuak Native Corp., would pass on the costs. Sitnasauk CEO Jason Evans wouldn't disclose how much the international effort cost (they filed a $1.5 million lawsuit against the company that didn't deliver before the freeze, and have been countersued), but said market pressures dictated $5.96 a gallon, two cents below its competitor. "It could have been a lot worse," Mayor Denise Michels said from her City Hall office, located on the site where Wyatt Earp -- he of Gunfight-at-the-OK-Corral fame -- owned a bar during Nome's heady gold rush days. For the hardy residents of Nome, high prices are just a way of life.
Posted 2 April 2012; 3:53:54 PM. Permalink
(Nordic Council News, 22 March 2012) -- Women are leaving their homes in the Arctic Region at a faster pace and social change is not far behind. The Nordic Council Citizens' and Consumer Rights Committee intends to find out how the Nordic governments can tackle the problem. For example, the debate in Greenland depicts climate change as the major threat to the traditional culture of hunting and fishing, but social research points to the lack of women and social change as a serious threat. Maria Stenberg (S), Swedish member of the Nordic Council Citizens' and Consumer Rights Committee, has, in conjunction with the Nordic Council Theme Session on the Arctic, addressed a written question on the issue to the Nordic governments. "I would like to know what steps the Nordic governments intend to take to foster women's opportunities for education and a career. If nothing is done there is a risk that the emigration and subsequent shortage of women will be a greater threat than climate change to social progress in the Arctic Region", says Maria Stenberg. "The fact that more women are leaving the Arctic has a negative effect on both social life and on the economy. It limits the possibilities of finding a partner, building a family and maintaining family relations, but it also means a loss of skilled labour", observes Stenberg. The women move to get an education, better jobs and better schooling for their children. The largest shortage of women is in parts of northern Russia and Greenland where there are about 85 women to 100 men, but the flight of women is also noticeable in the northern parts of Finland, Norway and Sweden. "Further development of distance learning could be one way to break the vicious circle of emigration. Commitment to quality in general welfare and job creation for those who have an education are other important initiatives. Efforts to prevent negative attitudes and a positive political approach towards the structural discrimination which women face in the workplace are also important measures. Unless we get a united political grip on this issue there is a great risk that the Arctic will become destitute of women", says Maria Stenberg. ... The lack of women is worst in the peripheral areas of the Arctic which are highly specialised in the traditional male dominated activities such as fishing, agriculture, forestry, mining and the military. The trend has been developing over several decades and at an increasing speed over the last 10-15 years. The distinguishing feature is that the male population tends to emigrate temporarily while the women move permanently from the region.
Posted 25 March 2012; 5:00:34 PM. Permalink
(Michelle Theriault Boots/Anchorage Daily News, 14 February 2012) -- With more than 100 inches [2.54 m] on the ground and more falling, Anchorage is running out of places to dump its snow. According to Marcel Warmilee, who owns a business hauling snow from condominium properties and business properties, six of the seven private dump sites he usually uses are full. The seventh is getting close. "You go to a condo, you pick up some snow and take it down (to a private snow disposal site) and realize the dump is closed," said Warmilee of Arctic Green LLC. "And maybe you have five or six dump trucks full of snow you don't know what to do with." In an unusual move, the city is responding by proposing an ordinance, scheduled to be introduced to the Assembly Tuesday, to streamline the permitting process so new temporary sites can quickly open. The idea is to create a "speedy permit process that might allow a few more sites to open if necessary," said municipal attorney Dennis Wheeler. New sites "are needed to keep driving on city and state roads, parking on private properties ... and other activities from becoming unduly problematic or even dangerous" to the general public, according to the text of the proposed ordinance. Part of the problem is huge amounts of snow, Wheeler said. Another problem is scarcity: As the city has grown, the number of vacant lots available for snow dumping has diminished. The city's own snow disposal sites for use by road crews are doing fine, says Alan Czajkowski, the head of the municipality's maintenance and operations department. "They're getting full but we still have plenty of capacity," Czajkowski said. "Unless we get a ton more snow we should be fine to the end of the year." It would take 30 to 40 inches [76 to 101 cm] more for the city-owned dumps to reach capacity, he said.
Posted 14 February 2012; 10:47:03 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
(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
(IA Regnum News, 31 December 2011) -- As of 31 December 2011, more than 48.5 thousand residents of the Yamal, more than half of them senior citizens, have expressed their desire to travel outside the autonomous regions, according to the press service of the governor of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District. The rehousing program has been funded in part by the federal targeted program "Housing" and by the regional target program "Cooperation." However, the funds are clearly insufficient. The numbers of people wanting to move from the Far North is much greater. Therefore, beginning in 2012 funds will be sent to the county annually. Currently, work is underway in the Tuymen district on 14 blocks of flats to house more than 2.5 thousand "yamaltsev," who have decided to leave the Far North.
Posted 31 December 2011; 1:17:06 PM. Permalink
(IA Regnum, 31 December 2011) -- Duma of Khanty-Mansiysk approved "Strategy of socio-economic development of the Khanty-Mansiysk 2020." The strategy's 329 pages containing 9 main analytical chapters and 7 annexes, according to the press service of the Administration of Khanty-Mansiysk. Sections of the strategy include an assessment of the existing state of the city's economy, demographics, workforce, quality of life of the population of the Khanty-Mansiysk, financial and public sector, the market of consumer services, the city's infrastructure, manufacturing, state of the environment, public safety and give a forecast for each aspect. The strategy provides a comparative analysis of competitive advantages and disadvantages of the municipality in relation to other areas of the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug – Yugra, describes problems, and gives an assessment of existing capacity and competitiveness of the economy of the city. It also contains a section that provides an assessment of current measures of municipal authorities to improve the socio-economic status of the population of the city, as well as evaluation of the implementation on the territory of the federal, regional, municipal and industrial programs of social and economic development. The strategy contains a number of scenarios (options) for development: Inertia, Innovation, and Intermediate (moderately optimistic). The document also reflects the long-term priorities and goals for their implementation in the chosen scenario. The final section devoted to a detailed description of the mechanisms for implementing the strategy. The development strategy of the Khanty-Mansiysk is linked to a number of strategic policy documents of the regional and federal level: the concept of long-term socio-economic development of the Russian Federation to 2020, the concept of socio-economic development of regions of the Russian Federation, as well as of socio-economic development of the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Region in 2020 and plan for development and distribution of productive forces Ugra for 2006-2015. and 2020. The main instruments for implementing the strategy at the municipal level will be operating in the program of socio-economic development of the Khanty-Mansiysk. Note the capital of Yugra in the city today there are 34 programs.
Posted 31 December 2011; 1:01:39 PM. Permalink
(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
(Eye on the Arctic, 4 November 2011) -- Listen to feature story including in-depth interviews with Kiruna locals [mp3]. Sweden's most northerly town, Kiruna, has to re-locate. The mine it grew up around has caused subsidence that has reached the outskirts of the town. And a controversy has erupted over where the new town should be built. The town grew up around the iron ore mine over a century ago and mining is still its lifeblood - the largest private sector employer in the area. But the seemingly never ending iron ore deposits are causing a conundrum – they lead right under the heart of the town. And as drilling continues more than a kilometre underground, cracks are starting to appear on the surface. ... A year ago the town had a plan – to move four kilometres north, demolishing some buildings and transporting older ones of cultural value. But earlier this year the plan was scrapped – as the local council said the land was not suitable. The new proposal is to move the town to the east but there is still a great deal of uncertainty about where, how and when. "It's not been decided yet which buildings will be moved or rebuilt. There are ongoing negotiations with the mining company LKAB and other actors," explained Mariann Nordmark at Kiruna council. Anders Lindberg, a spokesperson for LKAB, said the direction the town moves in could be crucial to its long term survival. He said that if the council goes ahead with plans to move east — in the same direction as the iron ore seam - it could mean that people will have to move again in 70 or 80 years time - And if iron ore prices are too low to cover the costs, he says it could cause the mine to close, shutting off the town's main source of income. But the local council leader, Lars Törnman, said the costs of moving are minor in comparison to the multi-million-dollar profits made by the mining company. "It's nonsense to say that the cost of moving again would cause the mine to close. LKAB is making multi-million-dollar investments and enormous profits, he said. Törnman added that as long as it's unclear how much ore is under the town — and when it will be mined — people need to be prepared to move again and even build houses that can be easily transported. While most locals accept that the town has to move to make way for the mine, there is a growing sense of frustration in the community, says local Swedish Radio reporter Magdalena Martinsson, as no one knows for sure where Kiruna will be located in the future.
Posted 30 November 2011; 11:40:29 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
(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
(Jill Burke/Alaska Dispatch via Eye on the Arctic, 14 November 2011) -- The jet stream feeding the wintery sea-spun tempest that sideswiped Alaska's western coast wasn't the only worldwide conveyer belt in motion this week. As howling winds whipped up and crashing waves pounded beaches, the people who live in the remote, isolated villages along the storm's path stayed connected via a web of global radio frequencies. When other communications failed, ham radio operators came to the rescue. Throughout the storm, they were the eyes for scientists in Fairbanks and Anchorage who otherwise would have been blind to weather conditions they could predict but not see. "They were providing critical observations. We don't have a lot of meteorological observations in the west. We don't have the instruments out there," Carven Scott, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Anchorage, said Thursday as messages sent via the amateur radio network zapped into his inbox. The messages were deceptively simple: how fast the wind was blowing and from what direction; sea level; wave height; whether it was snowing or raining; and the temperature. These seemingly small details from various villages made a big difference for the weather service -- enough so, Scott said, that a lead forecaster told him, "Whatever you do, don't cut it off because this stuff is really helping us."
Posted 14 November 2011; 1:55:26 PM. Permalink
(Jill Burke/Alaska Dispatch, 4 November 2011) -- As winter begins to settle in, a few villages in Alaska remain without the fuel they will need to heat and power homes and businesses during the state’s harsh months ahead. Many of the state's remote communities are accessible only by boat or plane. Once bays and coastlines freeze up, or rivers become too low, boats and barges are no longer available as transport options, forcing often cash-strapped communities to pay an even higher price per gallon to have their fuel supplies flown in. Edna Bay, a small, isolated island village in southeast Alaska's Tongass National Forest is one of three communities that, as of Nov. 4, doesn't have the reserves it needs to get through an entire winter, according to Alaska's Division of Community and Regional Affairs, which in July began monitoring community fuel preparedness statewide in advance of the 2011-2012 winter season. The status of five other villages -- Nunam Iqua, Red Devil, Port Alexander, Karluk and Kasigluk -- remains unknown, despite efforts by the division's Fuel Watch program to get in touch with people in those communities to find out whether they are stocked up or need assistance.
Posted 11 November 2011; 10:33:41 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
(Yereth Rosen/Reuters via Chicago Tribune, 11 November 2011) -- Anchorage, AK - The worst was over on Thursday for an "epic" winter storm that pounded Alaska's west coast with wind and snow and left one man missing after a 10-foot surge of seawater into Nome, officials said. The storm, considered the strongest to hit western Alaska in several decades, has largely moved northwest toward the Russian Arctic, said Don Moore, a National Weather Service meteorologist. A second, smaller Bering Sea storm is now brewing, and will send additional surges into the coastal towns and villages during high tide later in the day, said Moore, who has been working at the state's emergency operations center. The surges will not be as dramatic as those from the first storm but could cause more flooding, he said. "If the water levels were not elevated from the storm that had just passed, this other storm would not be a major issue," he said. "Once this passes off, this is when we'll see conditions start returning to normal." One person was missing in the storm. Authorities in Teller, a small community north of Nome, were searching Thursday for 26-year-old Kyle Komok, said the Alaska State Troopers. Komok was last seen Wednesday evening driving a four-wheel vehicle toward a small local jetty, trooper spokeswoman Megan Peters said. At the time, waves eight to 10 feet high were hitting the local seawall, Peters said.
Posted 11 November 2011; 2:24:00 PM. Permalink
(CBC News via Yahoo! 22 October 2011) -- Daisy Arnaquq of Qikiqtarjuaq says she is used to seeing polar bears on the hour-long boat ride to her cabin near the community on the southeast coast of Baffin Island. In the last five years, she and her family would encounter about one polar bear per summer and "they would just take off right away," she said. But this year three different female bears with cubs paid them visits. "The dogs would start barking, and we’d look out the window and see the mother with two cubs coming into our camp ... It's scary. You don't know what they are going to do — attack you, destroy your property." She said bears are also showing up year-round in the community itself and the area where the sled dogs are kept, instead of just in the fall and early winter. "That never used to happen," said Arnaquq. Internationally, three people have been killed by polar bears in the last three months, including a British teenager on Norway’s Spitsbergen island, a 33-year-old man in the eastern Russia region of Chukotka and a technician working at a weather station in Russia’s Franz Josef Land. Polar bear biologist Andrew Derocher of the University of Alberta blames melting ice and climate change.
Posted 26 October 2011; 11:53:53 AM. Permalink
(William Yardley and Erik Olsen/New York Times, 16 October 2011) -- BARROW, Alaska - The ancient whale hunt here is not so ancient anymore. “Ah, the traditional loader,” one man mumbled irreverently. “Ah, the traditional forklift.” That morning, the first of the annual fall hunt, a crew of Inupiat Eskimos cruising the Arctic Ocean in a small powerboat spotted the whale’s spout, speeded to the animal’s side and killed the whale with an exploding harpoon. By lunchtime, children were tossing rocks at the animal’s blowhole while its limp body swayed in the shore break like so much seaweed. Blood seeped through its baleen as a bulldozer dragged all 28 feet of it across the rocky beach. At one point, one man, not Inupiat, posed beside the whale holding a small fishing rod, pretending for a camera that he had caught it on eight-pound line. Eventually the heavy equipment gets the job done, and the whale is lowered onto the snow — and the shared joy is obvious. Big blades emerge and the carving commences. Steam rises when the innards meet the Arctic cold. Within an hour, nice women are offering strangers boiled muktuk — whale meat. People mingle. “Congratulations,” they tell the family of the crew. ... Here in Barrow, the snowy flats by the beach where the whales are butchered (the snow covers an old runway used by the former Naval Arctic Research Laboratory) are splashed with patches of blood and guts until more snow falls. Some blubber ends up in the trash, no longer prized as fuel for heat and light when a drill rig nearby makes natural gas cheap and easy. The whale hunters know what some people think of all of this, and many are wary when news crews show up with cameras. They know what the animal-rights people will say — and insist they will misunderstand. “We’ll never stop doing this,” Fenton Rexford, a candidate for mayor of the North Slope Borough, the northernmost municipality in the United States, said as he watched the festivities. “No one can stop what our fathers and forefathers have done for thousands of years. But we’re highly adaptable people. We use what tools are available to us to make life easier.”
Posted 26 October 2011; 11:38:25 AM. 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
(Anchorage Daily News via The News Tribune, 15 September 2011) -- How about some Yup'ik language rock? Maybe you missed the fledging Bethel-based band Frozen Whitefish at the state fair -- and on Discovery's "Flying Wild Alaska. There's still time to catch up on the group's MySpace and Facebook pages before their full-length album hits next year. I asked frontman Mike McIntyre to tell the group's origin story. Here's what he had to say: Frozen Whitefish is a Bethel based Alaskan Native Yupik Rock band formed in 2010 and all lyrics are written in the Yupik Eskimo language. Frontman Mike McIntyre was raised in the small village of Eek and spoke Yupik as his first language before moving to Bethel as a young child. Frozen Whitefish was first a project started by Mike after he returned from a trip to Greenland where he played drums for the Kuskokwim Fiddle Band in the Inuit Circumpolar Conference in 2010. He was inspired by the influence of their Native language in their own music and wanted to do the same here in Alaska. Soon after he started recording his music in his home studio, he got a request from a Native radio station in Washington to send his songs over to a TV producer with the Discovery Channel, which was gathering Native music for the "Flying Wild Alaska" TV show.
Posted 16 September 2011; 1:56:30 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
(The Dutch Harbor Fisherman, 22 August 2011) -- Twenty-five of the 36 rural Alaska post offices that have been under consideration for closure are no longer under consideration for closure. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, had that good news today in a meeting with officials for the U.S. Postal Service, rural health care providers and other community groups. Last month postal authorities announced that 36 post offices in Alaska were among the nearly 3,700 post offices nationwide targeted for possible closure as a way to reduce costs and expenses. Begin and three other senators wrote to Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe requesting more information on the issues related to the closures. Begich also spoke with Donahoe to express his concern about the impact of closing post offices in rural areas. The names of the 25 post offices taken off the list were not immediately available. USPS District Manager for Alaska Diane Horbuchuk said letters to the 25 communities no longer targeted for possible closure are going out this week, and that a review of the remaining 11 sites continues and should be completed by week's end.
Posted 29 August 2011; 2:39:05 PM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 24 August 2011) -- Thousands of people are moving away from the Russian part of the Barents Region. Population decline with 13.4 thousand in the first half of 2011. ¾ of this amount is a result of negative migration outside the region. Komi Republic and Arkhangelsk oblast show the worst results in this dynamic, but also Republic of Karelia and Murmansk oblast have negative figures. Murmansk oblast lost 1886 people due to negative migration and Karelia showed only minus 262. The highest negative migration balance has Komi Republic – minus 4153 for the first six months of 2011. Arkhangelsk oblast lost 3824 of people due to negative migration processes in the same period. Murmansk oblast also experience negative migration. Over 14 thousand moved out of the region this year, while 12.3 thousand people moved in. Totally the Barents Russian regions (Arkhangelsk and Murmansk oblasts, Komi and Karelia republics) lost over 440 thousand of population during the last ten years. Population of Komi Republic decreased by 11.7%, Murmansk and Arkhangelsk oblasts – by 11%, Karelia – by 10%, according to the figures by Russia’s Federal Statistics.
Posted 29 August 2011; 1:51:22 PM. Permalink
(The Local, 27 August 2011) -- A record breaking sausage was the star of the show at the start of the annual autumn fair in Jokkmokk, northern Sweden, on Friday. The sausage, measuring over one hundred metres broke the previous world record, of 80 metres, also made for the same festival back in 1992. Jokkmokk has put itself on the map for its feat, during the annual fair which is now taking place for the 32nd time. Making the giant sausage was no mean feat according to those involved in its preparation. Apparently it took four people some 150 hours to put it together. Magnus Kvickström managing director of Jokkmokk’s Korv told reporters, "The only problem we had was that we had to make a special order for the sausage skin.” The sausage proved to be the star attraction at a show which has guaranteed itself publicity over the years and brought increasing tourism to the town which lies in the northernmost part of the country, some 170 kilometres north west of Luleå. The town is perhaps best known for being a central hub for Sweden’s Sami population. Each year, in celebration of its culture another annual market, which is held every February, is a longstanding tradition that goes back over 400 years.
Posted 29 August 2011; 1:40:20 PM. Permalink
(Jane George/Nunatsiaq News, 15 July 2011) -- A group of Cambridge Bay residents, who have rallied to keep the Maud in their community, are circulating a petition that asks the federal government to keep the sunken hulk, once sailed by the Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen, in Nunavut. Wealthy Norwegian investors want to bring the Maud back to Norway and then build a futuristic museum around it. The Cambridge Bay group’s members, who started meeting last month, want to keep Amundsen’s Maud — also called the Baymaud — in Cambridge Bay. Their petition, “Keep the Baymaud in Canada,” posted online asks “the Government of Canada to keep the Baymaud in Canada by denying all requests for export permits.” “I really think this is an important cause, and I’d like to encourage you to add your signature. It’s free and takes just a few seconds of your time. No need to register or give a password or anything time consuming. All you need to do is provide your name and email address and then click sign,” said Baymaud spokesperson Vicki Aitaok.
Posted 15 July 2011; 9:49:38 AM. Permalink
(Yukon River Gold LLC press release, 12 July 2011) -- KALTAG, ALASKA - Yukon River Gold LLC has announced the suspension of fish buying operations this summer in the remote Alaskan village of Kaltag, pending review for a permanent closure of the facility. This closure results in elimination of 70 jobs this summer, in this remote village of less than 800 people, where jobs are scarce. The closure is the result of inadequate supplies of harvest opportunities to supply the plant with salmon. With record numbers of Keta salmon returning, this plant stands idle while the fish swim by. The primary problem facing Yukon fisheries, is how to separate the abundant Keta salmon, from the Chinook salmon that are needed for conservation. How to harvest one, and not the other? Kaltag’s answer; harvest with fishwheels. Fishwheels are an old technology, that is being rediscovered wherever salmon return, because they are so environmentally friendly. Fishwheels are a revolving series of dip nets powered by the river, hence no energy needed. Fisheries scientists worldwide, utilize this technology to capture and release fish for research purposes. The salmon are carefully captured alive and returned to the river unharmed within seconds; guaranteeing a 100% subsistence priority for Chinook salmon. A perfect solution to the mixed salmon in the Yukon River. ... Kaltag cooperating with Alaskan authorities began using their fishwheels to release the Chinook salmon alive. ... As a consequence of this program, leading global magazine Seafood International has named the tiny Alaskan village of Kaltag, as one of the world’s 11 greenest fisheries. Environmentally sensitive customers lined up to buy the product. Karlberg said “Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) notified us that we would not be able to harvest abundant Keta salmon, until all the Chinook salmon have left the area. These fish travel together, so that marked the end of the fishery for us with nothing to harvest. We pointed out that we had proven to ADFG that over the last two years we could harvest Keta salmon, without killing a single Chinook salmon. We asked; How do you close a fishery that does not kill Chinook salmon, … to save Chinook salmon? We simply do not know what the issue is. ... Historically there have been dozens of salmon processing plants on the Yukon. Last year there were two left. With today’s closure of the Kaltag plant, there is only one plant left standing, and it is struggling to survive. With no processing plants, there can be no fishing. These centuries’ old isolated communities will have been walled off from the very resource that the villages were specifically located to survive upon over centuries. ... Plant manager Doug Karlberg says, “Closing this plant was a painful decision. It simply did not have to happen. This closure was caused by politics, not science. Kaltag is a wonderful community, but it is economically challenged, isolated with a small voting population, and being asked to pay the ultimate price in order to save a species which it does not even harvest.”
Posted 13 July 2011; 12:17:35 PM. Permalink
(Jake Neher/KBRW – Barrow via APRN, 4 May 2011) -- Whalers in Northern Alaska are off to a strong start for the 2011 spring season. Crews have been in full gear since the first leads opened up in the Arctic Sea ice. [mp3]
(Craig Medred/Alaska Dispatch, 4 May 2011) -- The tribal leaders of the small village of Perryville on the Alaska Peninsula in a far corner of Southwest Alaska believe the wind has saved them $66,000 to date. The wind in Perryville does not blow particularly hard, but it comes steady off the Gulf of Alaska to spin 10 Skystream 3.7 wind turbines. Villagers hoisted them into the air in November of 2008 using a winch mounted on a Ford F-250 pickup truck. Then they wired them into the grid connecting the village’s power to three, existing diesel turbines. The entire project cost $150,000. All of this comes at a time when other small communities are spending millions to harness the wind. The federally funded Alaska Village Electric Cooperative plans to spend more than $3 million to bring wind power to the Bering Sea coastal village of Shaktoolik and more than $4 million to hook up turbines in Mekoryuk on Nunivak Island in Southwest Island. Mekoryuk is a community of slightly more than 200 people about 400 miles northwest of Perryville, a community of about 100. Both communities, like others all across rural Alaska, are struggling with the ever rising costs of diesel to power generators. Diesel -- the tax-free kind for home heating and power generation -- was going for about $4.50 a gallon in the regional hub of Bethel on Friday.
Posted 5 May 2011; 10:56:48 AM. Permalink
(The Arctic Sounder, 29 April 2011) -- Carl Crum of Brazos Film said he and his wife have just posted the Barrow episodes of their documentary series One Square Mile. You can watch the episodes at: http://onesquaremile.tv. In an email, they thanked everyone that helped them make this project a reality. "The community of Barrow was very supportive of our project and we are very happy with the stories we captured. We will be sending out a formal release in the following day or two, but we wanted to send out a quick 'teaser email, ' " they said. "We want to get as much feedback from people in Barrow as possible. We are also looking for Barrow residents to add their voice to the Barrow - One Square Mile by filling out this questionnaire on the website http://www.onesquaremile.tv/1sqMile/Barrow_8_form.html.
Posted 30 April 2011; 1:46:12 PM. Permalink
(Sveriges Radio, 19 April 2011) -- Plans continue for the moving and rebuilding the northern Swedish mining community of Kiruna — since the vast network of tunnels under the streets have made life there shaky — and there are plans to dig even more mine shafts in the search for that valuable iron ore. But hopes of local politicians and the mining company leaders to rip down instead of to move old historic buildings have sparked some high-level protests. A highly unusual and costly measure to be sure to move and rebuild a whole town — and local politicians and the state owned LKAB mining company making profits for the last 120 years are counting the kronor. Both have jointly appealed to the government to remove the cultural stamp of preservation for the town’s historic buildings – arguing that it would be cheaper to build brand new. But some leaders of Swedish organizations defending the historic buildings have appealed in the prestigious Stockholm newspaper Svenska Dagbladet to save the structures: the city hall with its high rectangular clock tower – not just a home base for politicians but a gathering place for the whole community, the central train station – the hub of tracks bringing in the workers and settlers to this once sparsely populated region and removing the iron ore to ports and factories around the world; a beautiful and pomp-filled settlement of 1895 – once the home of the company boss – and now a museum and conference center. Kerstin Westerlund Bjurström is the chairperson of the Swedish section of the international council on monuments and sites – explaining why she co-signed the appeal. in Kiruna, the town’s head architect Tomas Nylund is diplomatic in his position balancing between the will of his bosses the politicians and those wanting to save the historic past.
Posted 19 April 2011; 2:50:58 PM. Permalink
(Yamal News, 13 April 2011) -- The modern multifunctional port Sabetta will be built on Yamal peninsula. This information was given by the first deputy governor of Yamal Vladimir Vladimirov in the course of the working trip to the settlement Seyakha (Yamalskiy district). By the information given in the press-service of the governor of Yamal, Vladimir Vladimirov conducted the conference with the head of Yamalskiy district Andrey Nesterouk, the head of the settlement Seyakha Igor Okotetto and the deputy chairperson of the administration of "NOVATEK" Yevgeniy Kot. The sides discussed questions of assistance to building of the port Sabetta on Yamal peninsula. The necessity of this building is stipulated with a decision not to bring shipment of liquefied gas farther to the north of the peninsula but to tie it to extractive fields. For realization of this project "NOVATEK" and the government of Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug are to conduct bottom dredging on the waterway of Ob Estuary. The port Sabetta can become the key link in the scheme of transportation of not only liquefied gas from Yamal, but also products of fish and venison processing. By the words of Vladimir Vladimirov, if it will be possible to come out to the world level, without doubts, cargoes from Seyakha and Sabetta will go both to Europe and Asia.
Posted 17 April 2011; 11:57:56 AM. Permalink
(The Arctic Sounder, 6 April 2011) -- At a community meeting on March 28, the Native Village of Point Lay was presented with an "Outstanding Partner" Award from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Alaska Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said in a written statement. Here's the rest of the release: The honor was conferred as part of the annual Regional Director's Excellence Awards, which recognize the work of FWS staff and partners across Alaska. Presented by Service Marine Mammal Management program biologist Jim MacCracken, the award cites the work done be residents of the village to protect walruses in September 2010. At that time, tens of thousands of migrating Pacific walruses hauled out on the Chukchi Sea barrier beach within sight of the small Inupiaq community of Pt. Lay Alaska. see a video of the gathering here. It was an event unprecedented in living human memory and soon became a worldwide media attraction. Residents of Point Lay community took the initiative to protect the resting walruses from disturbance that could have resulted in stampedes that can injure or kill young and weakened animals. Community leaders took an Incident Command approach to protecting the walruses. They issued a news release and walrus photographs to inquiring news media organizations, but also requested that media crews not travel to Point Lay. When media did arrive, the leaders participated in interviews and showed North Slope hospitality, while advising visitors on how to get the stories they needed without disturbing the animals. Point Lay has a distinguished history of working closely with wildlife scientists, especially on beluga and bowhead whales. In this instance the entire community also took the initiative to effectively demonstrate respect, and provide respite, for the thousands of weary Pacific walruses resting near the village. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Alaska Regional Director Geoff Haskett said, "Partners are at the heart of much of what we do as an agency, and this recognition appropriately honors the Native Village of Point Lay for taking the initiative to protect walrus during this almost unprecedented haul-out event."
Posted 6 April 2011; 3:19:32 PM. Permalink
(Annie Feidt/APRN – Anchorage, 16 March 2011) -- Alaska received its 2010 census numbers today. Overall the state’s population grew, but many areas of rural Alaska lost residents.
(CBC News, 7 March 2011) -- CIBC customers in Kuujjuaq, Que., are temporarily without local service, after their bank branch was destroyed by fire over the weekend. The branch building burned down on Sunday morning, but firefighters salvaged the ABM, bank vault and cashiers' boxes from the rubble. The machine, vault and boxes have been removed and are stored in a secure location, according to bank officials. A CIBC representative is travelling to the remote northern Quebec village on Monday to help the local branch manager prepare to restore service. The bank will also make information available for customers who have questions about their accounts, according to officials.
Posted 7 March 2011; 2:11:51 PM. Permalink
(The Arctic Sounder, ) -- From the Tundra to Tinseltown, the Ray Mala Story, by Lael Morgan, a biography of Alaska's first and only movie star, will kick off the Ray Mala Film Festival this spring with screenings planned in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Kotzebue, Nome, Point Hope, and Bethel, a press release said. The festival is part of a statewide celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Alaska Native land claims settlement and recognizes emergence of an Alaska movie industry. The new biography from Epicenter Press tells the story of Ray Mala, an Inupiat Eskimo from Candle, Alaska, who in 1933 at the age of 27 became the first non-White actor to play a leading role in a Hollywood film. He became a matinee idol after the release of Eskimo from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), the first major studio film made in Alaska. The charming, handsome Mala had a long career, appearing in 25 Hollywood films over three decades, but he never forgot his roots on the tundra of Alaska. Mala was also an accomplished cinematographer. Yet Mala is little known in Alaska today. He died in 1952 at age 46. A book-launch for Eskimo Star will take place the evening of Tuesday, March 29, at the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, featuring a star-studded guest list, paparazzi, and a traditional red carpet for dramatic entrances. Screenings will include excerpts from Robinson Crusoe of Clipper Island, the delightfully entertaining 14-part serial in which Mala starred in 1935, and How Death Was Cheated in the Great Race to Nome (Pathé News). Lael Morgan will sign copies of her new book. The film festival begins in Anchorage with a gala premier at the Bear Tooth Theater on March 30-31. Movies to be screened include Eskimo, Red Snow (Columbia Pictures), Last of the Pagans (MGM), and Igloo (distributed by Universal Pictures). Admission to Igloo will be free, compliments of Universal.
Posted 7 March 2011; 10:51:08 AM. Permalink
(Iceland Review, 1 March 2011) -- A Greenlandic fisherman on a Greenlandic capelin vessel drowned after falling overboard in stormy weather off Malarrif on Snaefellsnes peninsula, west Iceland, on Sunday evening. The captain immediately requested assistance from the Icelandic Coast Guard. By coincidence, one of its helicopters was located in west Iceland for training purposes. The Coast Guard’s other helicopter was also sent to the scene from Reykjavík, visir.is reports. The crew of one of the helicopters managed to hoist the fisherman onboard in very difficult circumstances but it was too late; he was pronounced dead shortly afterwards The ship is manned by both Icelanders and Greenlanders. It arrived in Helguvík on Reykjanes peninsula in southwest Iceland last night and the Sudurnes police questioned the crew.
Posted 2 March 2011; 9:33:55 AM. Permalink
(Jake Neher/The Arctic Sounder, 21 February 2011) -- The Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission (AEWC) is calling on Alaska's Congressional delegation to introduce subsistence whaling legislation before 2012. Officials say legislation is needed in case an international regulatory body fails to pass a harvest quota renewal for subsistence hunters. AEWC members and officials passed this and four other resolutions last week during the commission's two-day Mini-Convention in Barrow. The current five year block quota for native subsistence whaling is ending in 2012. At that time, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) will decide whether or not to renew or adjust the quota for another five years. But AEWC officials say the international body is dysfunctional, and has used the quota as a bargaining chip in negotiations on other issues unrelated to Native subsistence whaling. They fear political gridlock in 2012, which could leave the 11 communities in the AEWC without a set quota. A subsistence quota renewal needs the approval three-quarters of IWC member nations to pass. Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission Vice President George Ahmaogak says it's time to start considering all options to protect against a quota denial from IWC. "It's getting harder and harder to work with the International Whaling Commission," Ahmaogak says, "even though we abide by all their rules, do the census work, a lot of the requirements and mandates by the IWC. Unfunded mandates, if you will. It's getting harder and harder. In 2012, it's going to be a challenge. So, I think we're better off going for domestic legislation. That's why we pushed this resolution on the floor." According to the AEWC resolution, the International Whaling Commission does allow subsistence whaling without a set quota "to meet cultural and nutritional need" under domestic national legislation. It says such legislation needs to correspond with IWC requirements.
Posted 21 February 2011; 11:19:53 PM. Permalink
(Health Canada news release 2011-25, 16 February 2011) -- NUUK, Greenland - Today, a delegation representing Canada signed a declaration with other Arctic states. This declaration is a commitment between the Arctic Health Ministers to work collaboratively on circumpolar health issues and information sharing. "Circumpolar countries share similar health priorities and often face significant logistical, financial, and technological challenges in overcoming health disparities," said Minister Aglukkaq. "Today's meeting was an important opportunity to discuss and share best practices with other Arctic countries facing similar health challenges among Arctic residents." The Arctic Health Ministers Meeting co-hosted by Denmark and Greenland was held in Nuuk, Greenland, on February 16. The meeting focused on circumpolar health cooperation, promoting healthy lifestyles and health care delivery in the Arctic. Canada's participation in this meeting complements the objectives of Canada's Arctic Foreign Policy and Northern Strategy. The meeting was attended by a Canadian delegation which included representatives from Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, Permanent Participants to the Arctic Council and academic experts. This inaugural Arctic Health Ministers' meeting aimed to enhance circumpolar partnerships, and to identify ways to collectively build the evidence-base circumpolar nations need to enhance policies that address existing and emerging Arctic health issues. The declaration reaffirms the commitment of Arctic Health Ministers to provide strong leadership that will enable government officials, health professionals, and community organizations to strengthen circumpolar collaboration in health promotion, disease surveillance and culturally appropriate health services.
Posted 16 February 2011; 10:58:27 PM. Permalink
(Bob Weber/The Canadian Press via Toronto Star, 14 February 2011) -- Last year's outbreak of tuberculosis in Nunavut, the worst ever since the region became a territory, is a problem for the whole country, not just the North, says an editorial published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. One of the editorial's authors calls the spread of a disease virtually unknown in the south an international embarrassment. “We are a rich, developed nation that has the resources to solve the problem in Nunavut if we choose to employ them,” says Dr. Matthew Stanbrook, a respirologist at Toronto Western Hospital. “The fact that we have failed to do so, not just once but over a century, should be an embarrassment to every Canadian.” The editorial reports that Nunavut suffered 100 new and active cases of tuberculosis in 2010. That's the highest number in the territory's 10-year history and represents an infection rate 62 times the Canadian average. Worse, most of the new cases occurred in younger patients, suggesting the disease is being actively spread. “Nothing will change without the federal and territorial governments coming together with Nunavut communities to address the current outbreak,” says the editorial. “This is not just Nunavut's problem — it is Canada's problem.”
Posted 15 February 2011; 3:51:14 PM. Permalink
(Chris Windeyer/Nunatsiaq Online, 14 February 2011) -- Ottawa needs to step up to help Inuit deal with the potential boom in shipping through Canada’s Arctic waters, the president of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., Cathy Towtongie, said Feb. 14 at the Baffin Mayor’s Forum in Iqaluit. “Our communities are the basis of Canada’s presence in the North,” Towtongie said. Towtongie said the lack of basic marine infrastructure makes it impossible to respond quickly to spills or shipping accidents, while hampering the ability of hunters to travel or even protect their boats from damage. “In most cases our boats are not even sheltered by basic breakwaters.” At the same time, the prospect of commercial shipping through the Northwest Passage offers not only the spectre of maritime disasters, but also the more routine threat of leaks and the discharge of bilge water from ships plying Arctic waters, Towtongie said. Ottawa has put up the money for one small craft harbour in Nunavut, at Pangnirtung, but various municipal and territorial plans for marine improvements languish without action. And the Canadian Coast Guard has distributed oil cleanup kits to Nunavut hamlets, but those are designed to handle only small, localized spills. Meanwhile, the closest large port with the ability to handle major marine incidents is St. John’s. “Right at this point, Nunavut is not prepared,” she said. Towtongie said it’s time to convene a conference to create a marine transportation strategy for Nunavut.
Posted 15 February 2011; 3:49:22 PM. Permalink
(Josh Wingrove/Globe and Mail, 14 February 2011) -- However high you think your grocery bills are, they’re bound to be worse in Arctic Bay – a standard jug of cranberry cocktail sells there for $38.99, eight times more than it would in Southern Canada. The remote Nunavut hamlet has seen food prices spike in recent months after the federal government’s scrapping of its old Food Mail program that subsidized shipments of most foods and some hygiene products to remote northern communities. That program expired in October. Now, as supplies run out, new stock is arriving on shelves at unsubsidized prices – the juice, $29.39 for Cheez Whiz, $27.79 for a tub of margarine, $19.49 for a brick of cheese. Arctic Bay (pop. 750) has now opened its first food bank, while its territorial MLA questions how the new program will help his constituency. “In my opinion, these prices are way too high,” MLA Ronald Elliott said in an interview, adding: “For communities that are already hit with high unemployment and where lots of people are on social assistance, it makes you wonder how people are going to make ends meet.” The new federal program is called Nutrition North and only subsidizes what Ottawa considers healthy foods, while some hygiene products will receive a lower subsidy. Both become effective April 1. Billed as more “cost effective,” Nutrition North kicks in on April 1 and has been championed by Health Minister (and Nunavut MP) Leona Aglukkaq. When Mr. Elliott began speaking out about his “major concerns” late last week, Ottawa moved swiftly to defend its new program. “These prices are not a result of the Nutrition North Canada program,” Indian Affairs minister John Duncan said in a weekend statement. They do, however, appear to be the result of terminating its predecessor program. Food Mail allowed a long list of eligible foods and hygiene products to be shipped at 80 cents per kilogram. The unsubsidized price is now about $13 per kilogram to ship to Arctic Bay, according to the local economic development officer. Northern Stores – the region’s foremost retailer – says its air freight price has now gone up six fold in some cases (in winter, food must be flown into the community). The price increases that have sparked consumer complaints are for recently delivered items.
Posted 15 February 2011; 3:26:38 PM. Permalink
(Rachel D'Oro/Anchorage Daily News, 17 January 2011) -- Gordon Brower has been hunting bowhead whales for most of his 47 years, forgoing life jackets because no one made them in white, the only color that would work as camouflage on Alaska's icy Arctic coast. Now the whaling captain from the nation's northernmost town of Barrow and other Eskimo whalers have begun to wear personal flotation devices, custom-made in the white they've traditionally used to make them more invisible to their massive prey. When the subsistence whaling season arrives this spring, more Alaska Native hunters from coastal villages will be outfitted with the white float coats being distributed through a safety program that's been greatly expanded since its debut last year. A couple dozen whalers also will receive white float pants. ... The coats are the result of efforts by the Coast Guard, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and Burnaby, British Columbia-based Mustang Survival Corp., which makes flotation and extreme climate protection products. The whalers' coats have a nylon shell and flotation foam filling, which also offers protection against the frigid conditions faced in the Arctic. There is no federal or state requirement to wear a life jacket in a recreational boat unless the person is under 13, although life jackets on board are required, he said. The Coast Guard can't purchase equipment to give to the public, so Folkerts turned to the tribal health consortium. The organization tapped $12,000 of its own funds and ordered 52 coats from Mustang, distributing them among whalers in Barrow and two other villages. It was an apt connection. One of the consortium's areas of interest is reducing the disproportionate rate of drownings among Alaska Natives. Between 2000 and 2006, Alaska Natives accounted for 179 drowning deaths in the state, or 45 percent of the 402 such deaths in that period, although they represented less than 18 percent of Alaska's population at the time, according to Hillary Strayer, the organization's injury prevention specialist. ... For the upcoming spring whaling season that begins in April when bowheads are heading north, the consortium is distributing 96 coats among crews from the remaining villages that are members of the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission, which represents 11 communities. Four crews ... will get the float pants. The funds for this year's effort came from a $15,000 donation from Shell Oil and almost $11,000 from Conoco Phillips, an oil producer on the North Slope, where some of the whaling villages are located. Shell has offshore oil exploration projects in the region.
Posted 18 January 2011; 1:17:40 AM. Permalink
(Andrew Mayeda/Postmedia News via Montreal Gazette, 13 January 2011) -- OTTAWA — The Harper government has put on hold its search for bidders to operate and maintain the chain of early-warning radars that guards against foreign incursions into Canadian and U.S. airspace in the Far North, Postmedia News has learned. The North Warning System, a chain of 47 unmanned radars that lines the Arctic coast from Alaska to Labrador, is operated and maintained by Nasittuq Corp. under a 10-year, $624-million contract that ends Sept. 30 this year. Industry sources say a number of Canadian companies and multinational defence contractors have expressed interest in bidding on the next contract, including Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin and Raytheon, the U.S. defence giant that became embroiled in the controversy over whether Canada should join the United States' missile-defence shield. But the Canadian government, which originally hoped to award a new contract this April, has shelved the bidding process as it consults with aboriginal groups, as required under land-claim settlements. The consultation process is expected to take months or even years. The delay casts uncertainty over the long-term future of a system that some experts say remains a key component of the joint efforts of Canada and the United States to keep watch over the Arctic, a region that is growing in economic and geopolitical importance as the retreating ice cap opens the door to more shipping traffic and resource development.
Posted 14 January 2011; 2:30:17 PM. Permalink
(Winnipeg Free Press, 13 January 2011) -- ARVIAT, Nunavut - The increasingly late freeze-up of sea ice on Hudson Bay has forced one Arctic community to take new measures to protect itself from the growing number of polar bears roaming its streets. "It is very scary because they can be very aggressive," said Alex Ishalook, president of the Hunters and Trappers Organization in Arviat, Nunavut. Bears have always been common around Arviat, along the western shore of Hudson Bay. The hamlet is on the bears' migration route as they return to their sealing grounds on the floe edge of Hudson Bay after spending the summer on shore. But sightings of the fearsome predators — known to stalk and kill humans — have become increasingly common over the last few years in the community itself. "It just started three to four years (ago)," said Ishalook. "There used to be no polar bears going into town. Now, I have seen a polar bear one foot away from our house." Bear sightings in Arviat are probably increasingly because the warming Arctic means Hudson Bay freezes over later and later, said Chris Hotson of the Nunavut government's environment department. "The last two years, the ice has been really late in coming in, which means the bears have been coming around for a longer period of time. In the few years, we've seen a real spike in activity." This winter, bears had to wait until early December to hit the ice — weeks later than usual. And because they eat little during the summer and must live off the fat from the winter's seal hunting, those bears are hungry. "It's daily sightings," said Ishalook. "There's footprints walking along the roads and around the buildings. Some are going right into porches and sheds." Although Arviat has long used watchmen to warn children and adults when a bear is visiting, it was becoming clear that something more was needed. ... This fall, the Nunavut government and the World Wildlife Fund brought in two large metal shipping containers in which people can store their seal and caribou meat. Smaller metal bins can be used to keep meat for dog teams safe. Hunters have been given wire mesh to wrap around their food caches out on the land. Dog teams have been encircled by electric fencing. "The underlying effort is not to just deter the bears when they get there, but to try to ensure they're not being attracted into the community," said Hotson.
Posted 14 January 2011; 2:25:05 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 12 Jnuary 2011) -- The Truth and Reconciliation Commission will travel to 19 communities across Canada's North this spring to gather residential school experiences from former students in remote communities. The national panel announced Wednesday that it will hold hearings in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Yukon, as well as the Nunavik region in northern Quebec, to speak with former residential school students "who might not otherwise be able to come to us, speak up [and] be heard," Justice Murray Sinclair, the commission's chairman, stated in a news release. The northern tour begins March 15 in Inukjuak, Que., and include hearings in the territorial capitals of Iqaluit, Yellowknife and Whitehorse. The tour wraps up on May 27 in Watson Lake, Yukon. The hearings will lead up to the commission's second national event in Inuvik, N.W.T., which runs from June 28 to July 1.
Posted 13 January 2011; 2:02:42 AM. Permalink
(Barbara Aggerholm/Guelph Record, 23 December 2010) -- Large solar balloons float over the dark Arctic landscape, illuminating an Inuit community below. They cast an almost magical light during the winter months when the sun never appears above the horizon. Over the frozen sea, more balloons hover, changing colour as the ice below thickens or melts. Sound like a dream? For two University of Waterloo architecture students, it’s a vision with real possibilities. The idea that solar balloons could float over the Arctic horizon like so many surrogate suns has the potential to become reality, say Claire Lubell and Virginia Fernandez, both 24. “Both of us really believe in it,” Lubell said during a recent interview from Italy, where she and Fernandez have been completing a Rome program offered by the UW School of Architecture, which is based in Cambridge. “The Arctic has become a kind of obsession for both of us,” Lubell says. The two fourth-year students recently won international recognition for their idea to cut through the seemingly endless months of darkness in the Canadian Arctic. Their proposal, called Buoyant Light, won an honourable mention in the International Velux Award competition for students of architecture. They were the only Canadian team to place in the event, which had 700 entries from around the world. It is administered by the Velux Group, based in Denmark, which has manufacturing companies in 11 countries that produce roof windows, skylights and related products. The competition asked students to think of new ways that daylight, fresh air and quality of life could be realized through design. Lubell, who is originally from Edmonton, and Fernandez, who immigrated to Canada from Venezuela five years ago, chose the Arctic as their muse. “There are such enormous problems in these Arctic communities with the remoteness and lack of light,” Lubell says. ... Lubell, who is originally from Edmonton, and Fernandez, who immigrated to Canada from Venezuela five years ago, chose the Arctic as their muse. “There are such enormous problems in these Arctic communities with the remoteness and lack of light,” Lubell says.
Posted 26 December 2010; 12:20:55 AM. Permalink
(RIA Novosti, 25 December 2010) -- MURMANSK - Some 50 athletes dressed as Santa Clauses hit the streets of Murmansk, in northwest Russia, on Saturday to welcome the city's main Christmas tree. The Santa Claus race was initially expected to gather some 100 athletes. The organizers planned to put Santas on skis. However, they failed to find enough costumes for the action. After the run finished, the downtown tree and Christmas lights were turned on as fireworks exploded overhead. The Christmas tree will stay on Murmansk main square for several months until spring.
Posted 25 December 2010; 1:12:03 PM. Permalink
(Iceland Review, 21 December 2010) -- Inhabitants with a legal domicile in Iceland totaled 318,236 on December 1, 2010, according to Statistics Iceland, and have increased by 643 since December 1 last year, or by 0.2 percent. Inhabitants in the capital region increased by 0.7 percent and by 0.3 percent in northeast Iceland. However, in other regions inhabitants decreased, most significantly in the West Fjords where their number dropped by 3.2 percent, ruv.is reports. In the Sudurnes region in southwest Iceland there was a population decrease by 1.4 percent and by 1.2 percent in east Iceland. In other regions the decrease was insignificant. On December 1, 2010, approximately 202,000 people lived in the capital region, 118,000 thereof in Reykjavík. Kópavogur is inhabited by more than 30,000 people and Hafnarfjördur has a population of nearly 26,000. The largest municipality outside the capital region is Akureyri in north Iceland with approximately 17,500 inhabitants.
Posted 22 December 2010; 11:47:28 PM. Permalink
(Siku Circumpolar News, 25 October 2010) -- The Alaska Federation of Natives meets this past week to discuss the
problems and challenges of rural life in Alaska, including domestic
violence, subsistence laws, suicide rates and substance abuse. Delegates to this year's Alaska Federation of Natives convention in Fairbanks tackled the problems and challenges of rural life in Alaska, including domestic violence, subsistence laws, suicide rates and substance abuse. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported a federation convention more than three decades ago carried a similar theme, but the prospect of "village survival" then held a strong thread of doubt, former state Sen. Georgianna Lincoln said. "Thirty-four years later, at this convention, we put an exclamation point on the end of that theme," said Lincoln, who represented the rural Interior in the state Senate. "We know our villages can survive, we know our villages have and will survive. We know, and we've known all along, our villages and our people are resilient survivors." At the convention, which attracts Alaska Natives from across the state, some weighed in at open microphones. Some suggestions were specific, such a request that Native communities do more to protect ground fish fisheries in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea from commercial trawling; a 1998 bill that slashed state aid for any public school that saw enrollment dip below 10 students; and improved telecommunication infrastructure to help communities keep up with a quickly changing world. The keynote speaker, Gloria O'Neill, said Alaska Natives have survived disease, displacement, discriminatory policies and life in a demanding physical environment. O'Neill said she senses public leaders are poised to tackle another challenge: education. People who thrive, she said in an interview, are those that both stay in touch with their respective cultures while adapting to succeed in contemporary economies. "We've really got to invest in our young people," she said.
Posted 18 December 2010; 9:20:57 AM. Permalink
(Libby Casey, APRN, 2 December 2010) -- Washington DC - The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge turns 50 on Monday, and conservationists are using the anniversary to call for stronger protections. They want President Obama to declare “monument status” for the Refuge – a move that would beef up its protections without having to get congressional approval. It wouldn’t carry the same weight as “wilderness status,” but would block most forms of development. The President of the Wilderness Society, Bill Meadows, says getting the President to designate it a monument area has a better chance than being protected by Congress. With the House shifting to Republican control in the New Year, there’s zero likelihood of seeing Congress pass stronger protections in the next two years, a reality Meadows admits. Thursday morning, outside the U.S. Capitol Building, Refuge advocates gathered to mark the approaching anniversary, including Sarah James with the Gwich’in Steering Committee, who traveled from Arctic Village. James has been working to protect the Refuge for decades and has appeared at dozens of similar events, but says she new motivation after the April BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Last month 25 Senators sent a letter to President Obama calling for stepped-up protection. More than 50 House members signed on to a similar letter this fall, including Washington State Congressman Jay Inslee. He says the most viable way to boost protection is through the White House.
Posted 3 December 2010; 4:39:58 PM. Permalink
(Iceland Review, 2 December 2010) -- A burial took place in Reykjanesbaer municipality in southwest Iceland yesterday. The news wouldn’t have had any special significance if not for the fact that the person buried, an ancient heathen, passed away 1,100 years ago and the ceremony took place inside the Viking World museum. The heathen in question is on loan from the National Museum of Iceland. The skeleton was unearthed from a pagan grave at the farm site Hafurbjarnarstadir in 1868 along with the bones of a dog and a horse, a sword and various other objects, Morgunbladid reports. The burial ceremony is part of an exhibition at Viking World, which will continue for the next two years. According to museum director Elisabeth Ward, research has shown that most Icelandic settlers were pagan and that paganism was practiced among the first generations of Icelanders. “We are reconstructing the pagan grave from Hafurbjarnarstadir,” Ward explained. “The skeletons are placed in a wooden boat, which is a replica of a Viking boat, and sand from Hafurbjarnarstadir has been put inside. Some people believe the man was buried inside a boat but it is not quite clear.” Ward said chieftains were often buried inside their boats and the size of the boat depended on the material wealth of the deceased. Such burial practices are also known among other pagan cultures. “Maybe it has to do with the person having a means of transport to another world.” Among objects on display at Viking World is the ship Íslendingur, which is a replica of the Gokstad ship, a Viking ship excavated in Norway. It was found inside a grave containing bones from a human, dog and horse. The timing of yesterday’s ceremony, December 1, was considered particularly suitable because that is when Ásatrúarfélagid, the pagan society in Iceland, holds a ceremony in honor of the four land wights of Iceland. The archeological discovery at Hafurbjarnarstadir is among the first in the country. A local farmer found bones in the sand in 1868. He called for a priest who contacted the National Museum, which had just been founded.
Posted 3 December 2010; 2:52:43 PM. Permalink
(Iceland Review News, 24 November 2010) -- The minority in the district council of the Vesturbyggd municipality in the southwestern West Fjords want to apply for a permit from the Environment Agency of Iceland to establish an up to 4,000-animal wild reindeer stock in the West Fjords. Currently, there are only reindeer in east Iceland. According to the proposal, reindeer are to be transported from the east and with time, form a large reindeer stock which could roam the area and serve as a source of income for the municipality, ruv.is reports. Proposals to that end have been rejected before due to fear of impact on farming in the region and possible diseases being transmitted to sheep. However, the minority in Vesturbyggd’s district council reasons there is no risk in relocating reindeer to the west as there are no examples of reindeer having infected sheep in east Iceland. Also, the number of sheep in the West Fjords has dropped significantly in the recent decades. The proposal is awaiting review.
Posted 24 November 2010; 3:55:47 PM. Permalink
(Dominic Kurek/Oakville Beaver, 12 November 2010) -- The people of Nunavut’s capital of Iqaluit all know about Tim Hortons, but to get the donuts and coffee, one of the more than 7,000 residents has to fly the treats in on their return home from the outside world. However, an Oakville woman who has lived in the remote community since September is helping bring the Canadian staple to her new home. Melissa Davis was recently tasked to help open and run Nunavut’s first Tim Hortons coffee shop in the fast growing community. When this franchise opens sometime at the beginning of December, it will also mean that the Oakville-based Tim Hortons will have a presence in all Canadian provinces and territories. The 21-year-old Iroquois Ridge High School graduate will be the new store’s assistant manager, being the head of production. She said the locals, mostly Inuit people, know what Tim Hortons is because when they fly on vacation they go through Ottawa. “There’s a Tim Hortons kiosk in the Ottawa airport, so they all know what Tim Hortons is and every time somebody comes back into the city, they bring with them a box of donuts off the plane,” she said. Davis was speaking to the Oakville Beaver during her 16 days of training for the new position in her hometown of Oakville.
Posted 13 November 2010; 7:29:56 PM. Permalink
(AFP, 10 November 2010) -- OTTAWA - The Canadian Arctic's first mosque opened on in Inuvik to serve as spiritual home to the area's fledgling Islamic community, a mosque committee member said. The mosque arrived in the small northern town last month after traveling 4,000 kilometers (2,485 miles) over land and water. Several journalists, including Arab television reporters joined local Muslims for its grand opening. The number of Muslims in the town of 4,000 inhabitants in Canada's Northwest Territories has grown steadily in recent years to about 80. They had prayed in a three-by-seven-meter (10-by-23-foot) caravan until they could no longer fit. The new mosque, dubbed the "little mosque on the tundra" by Canadian media, boasts a main hall with red carpets, a kitchen and a library, said mosque committee member Amer Suliman. "The sky is grey, but the light from the mosque and the minaret is bright, it's not too cold outside and guests are flocking here," he told AFP. The congregation had a prefabricated building shipped from Manitoba, where prices for labor and materials are substantially lower than in northern parts of Canada. At the end of August the little yellow mosque's voyage began on the back of truck, winding through the vast prairies and woods of Western Canada toward Hay River on the shores of Great Slave Lake, Northwest Territories. From there it was transferred onto a barge and floated down the McKenzie River to Inuvik, about 200 kilometers (124 miles) north of the Arctic Circle. A 30-foot (10-meter) minaret was built locally. The worshippers are largely Sunni Muslim immigrants from Sudan, Lebanon and Egypt who moved to Canada's far north in search of jobs and economic opportunities.
Posted 12 November 2010; 4:10:09 PM. Permalink
(Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency press release, 10 November 2010) -- Iqaluit, Nunavut (November 10, 2010) – Showing its continued commitment to Nunavut and the North, the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency revealed the location of its permanent headquarters in Iqaluit. The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Member of Parliament for Nunavut, Minister Responsible for the North and Minister of Health, on behalf of the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women and the Honourable John Duncan, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor), today announced that the permanent CanNor headquarters and regional offices will be located in Inuksugait Plaza Four in Iqaluit. CanNor will occupy the first and second floors of Inuksugait Plaza Four. The ground floor will house regional staff, and the second floor will be for headquarters personnel. The office accommodations are expected to be ready for occupants by late 2011. CanNor is responsible for coordinating and delivering Canada’s economic development across the North, and for related policy development, research and advocacy.
Posted 10 November 2010; 11:36:06 AM. Permalink
(Iceland Review, 5 November 2010) -- The 1,000 invitees—members of the public who were chosen
at random — are now gearing up for the National Gathering at
Laugardalshöll in Reykjavík on Saturday, where changes to the country’s constitution will be discussed. “They asked me to come. If everyone would have said no, then what? Someone has to do the dirty work,” quipped Ingibjörn Tönsberg to Fréttabladid, yet admitting that the Constitution of Iceland is a subject she has always taken an interest in. At 89, she will be the oldest attendee of the National Gathering. Steinunn Hlíf Gudmundsdóttir, on the other hand, who turns 18 late this month—only a few days before the election to the Constitutional Assembly takes place—will be the gathering’s youngest attendee. “It will be a good experience,” she said. Tönsberg and Gudmundsdóttir said they haven’t formed any specific opinions on what can be improved in the constitution, yet Tönsberg stressed that independence is the most important issue. Even though there are 71 years between them, the two women agree on the basic values in society; the goal should simply be that everyone can lead a good life. According to a press release, an almost equal number of men and women will be in attendance and their representation is more or less consistent with the nation’s age and area of residence distribution. By coincidence, a few couples were invited and a new mother has also announced her attendance, although she must take a break every now and then to breastfeed her baby. The conclusions of the National Gathering will be reported the following day. Then they will be submitted to the upcoming Constitutional Assembly, which will convene in February to draft a new constitution for Iceland. The assembly’s members will be elected on November 27.
Posted 10 November 2010; 11:30:16 AM. Permalink
(Eilís Quinn/Radio Canada International via Eye on the Arctic: Views from Up North, 27 October 2010) -- IQALUIT, Nunavut; NUUK, Greenland – When Edna MacLean, a renowned Inuk linguist, took the podium at a language conference in Iqaluit this year, over 200 Inuit from Canada, the United States and Greenland were listening in the audience. Some of the Arctic's most highly-skilled translators were on hand. But despite their collective fluency in at least three Inuit-language dialects: Inuktitut, Inuinnaqtun and Greenlandic, and a working knowledge of several others, it still wasn't enough. MacLean began her talk in Inupiaq, an Inuit dialect spoken in northern Alaska. But the interpreter translating the speech into English soon stumbled on a word. A nearby translator whispered a suggestion: "Grandparents." The original interpreter spoke back into the microphone: "And also my grandparents,..." But the translation soon trailed away again. The next time the interpreter's voice came through the audience's ear pieces, it wasn't with a translation, but with an apology. "Sorry," the interpreter said. "We're not understanding her language." Approximately 150,000 Inuit live across the circumpolar North in Canada, Alaska, Greenland and Russia. They share the same traditions, oral history and what is essentially the same language. But the dozens of different writing systems and dialects are often mutually unintelligible – not only between Inuit in different countries, but also between Inuit who live in neighbouring communities within the same region. 'Aliasuk' may mean 'happy' in Nunavik, Quebec, but 800km away in Igloolik, Nunavut, aliasuk means you're downright scared. Even Inuit linguists disagree on how many dialects there actually are and how to define them. In Canada, alone, there's Inuktitut, Inuinnaqtun, Natsilingmiutut, Inuttut, Inuttitut ... The list goes on and on. That means Inuit from different regions often must use English to speak with each other. Inuit language experts want to change that. They're proposing a standard Inuit language and writing system that could be used and understood all across the Arctic. They say standardization would increase the language's use in day-to-day life, help protect traditional culture from the ravages of climate change and give Inuit increased cultural and political clout on the world stage. Jose Kusugak, a former educator and prominent Inuit leader from Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, calls the need for different dialect interpreters at international Inuit meetings 'absurd.' He's given numerous speeches around the world asking that a common dialect and writing system be decreed within a year. His position is controversial to some but he says he has no regrets. "I used to shy away from making those kind of remarks," Kusugak says. "But I'm old enough now to develop a thick skin and say 'Pick a damn dialect!'"
Posted 28 October 2010; 3:19:01 PM. Permalink
(Big Pond News, 28 October 2010) -- Canadian Muslims have erected the Arctic's first minaret, atop a little yellow mosque which serves as spiritual home to the area's fledgling Islamic community. The mosque arrived in Inuvik last month to serve a growing Muslim population in Canada's far north, after travelling 4,000 kilometres over land and water. The minaret, built locally and installed this week, has four levels and stands 10 metres off the ground. 'It's really beautiful when we turn on the lights in the dark,' Amier Suliman, a mosque committee member, told AFP on Wednesday. Only finishing touches -- applying a second coat of paint inside, and connecting bathroom plumbing -- remain before the mosque's grand opening next week. 'This is the first minaret to be erected in the Arctic,' Suliman said gleefully by telephone. 'Some will say it's a new frontier for Islam,' he commented.
Posted 28 October 2010; 12:41:25 AM. Permalink
(AP via Yahoo!, 15 October 2010) -- CAPE DORSET, Nunavut - Four RCMP officers from a remote northern community are getting counselling after several shootings, including one in which a bullet tore through one of their homes. Five new officers have replaced the four that were removed from the detachment at Cape Dorset, Nunavut, on the southern end of Baffin Island. Chief Supt. Steve McVarnock says the officers left for a "health services debriefing." McVarnock says that in the last six months there have been six standoffs involving gunfire in the community of about 1,200. Murder charges have been laid in two of the standoffs.
Posted 15 October 2010; 1:39:41 PM. Permalink
(Iceland Review Online, 10 October 2010) -- An aggressive raven was terminated on Wednesday in the presence of the police after it had attacked a child and a dog in Grundahverfi near Akranes in west Iceland. “We’d like to point out to people to beware of ravens who aren’t afraid of humans. That one was particularly aggressive,” a housewife who witnessed the attack told local news website Skessuhorn. “The raven landed on our patio. Our daughter was outside with the dog, which is a three-month-old puppy. The raven perched on the patio wall and stared at them. When she bent down to pick up a stick for the dog […] the raven attacked her and tried to grab her back,” the mother, who wouldn’t be named, described. “The child was terrified, screamed and ran inside with the dog. If I hadn’t managed to close the door the raven would have followed them inside. The beast then hung around on the patio croaking viciously for a long time. My husband came home and it was still there,” she continued. The couple contacted the Icelandic Institute of Natural History which permitted the raven’s termination. A police officer who was called to the scene confirmed how aggressively the raven was acting. After following it around for a while, the raven was terminated without a firearm being used—that would not have been practical in the middle of a residential area. “We were concerned about people and the animals around us, especially kids who like to walk this way home from school,” the housewife concluded.
Posted 11 October 2010; 6:17:12 PM. Permalink
(Doug Saunders, Globe and Mail, 2 October 2010) -- Nuuk, Greenland - On a sunny day, the capital of Greenland is a place of elegant beauty, its brightly painted clapboard houses scattered along the boreal shoreline, rising to a broad boulevard of chic Scandinavian buildings, shops and apartments – as if a prosperous maritime Inuit settlement had been redesigned by Ikea. Such sunny days have lately become increasingly common in Nuuk, whose 15,000 people represent a quarter of Greenland’s population, most of the rest scattered in tiny villages along a vast, roadless shoreline that encircles the ice sheet covering most of this semi-independent country. That sheet, three kilometres thick at its centre, is melting fast, as are the ice fields that surround Greenland’s north. To the rest of the world, that melting appears to be the greatest problem of our century, begetting rising ocean levels, weather volatility, reduced growing seasons and fears of famine in the central and southern portions of the globe. But to the mainly Inuit people of Greenland, global warming is a gift from the heavens, and not just for the obvious reason. These children of hunters and fishermen have, for much of the past century, lived a version of the humiliating life of dependence that has befallen most of the ex-nomadic peoples of the world, struggling to hold on to traditions while living in enforced and subsidized marginality. The retreating ice is salvation: It opens fields of treasure and promises to end that humiliation. Among the many troubled ex-nomads of the world, the Inuit of Greenland have the atmosphere on their side.
Posted 3 October 2010; 3:55:35 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 24 September 2010) -- The world's most northern mosque has arrived by barge in Inuvik, N.W.T., giving Muslims in the Arctic town a proper place of worship. A Northern Transportation Company Ltd. barge arrived in Inuvik late Wednesday afternoon, carrying the prefabricated 1,554-square-foot beige building that will soon be a mosque and community centre for a growing Muslim population in the Arctic hamlet of 3,200 people. Facing an early snow, a crowd of about 40 Muslims greeted their long-awaited mosque at the NTCL shipyard. There were prayers, group photos, hugs and applause. "It's a beautiful building. Everyone's happy to have this small little home for meeting and for prayer, and for the children to be playing in," resident Amir Suliman told CBC News when the mosque arrived. The arrival caps an incredible 4,000-kilometre road and river journey from Manitoba, where the mosque was built, through two provinces and the Northwest Territories, down the Mackenzie River to the community just north of the Arctic Circle. The Zubaidah Tallab Foundation, a Manitoba-based Islamic charity, raised the money to build and ship the structure to Inuvik to help the Islamic community there.
Posted 26 September 2010; 6:11:57 PM. Permalink
(Nunatsiaq News, 24 September 2010) -- The title of the map “Sleeping on the Couch” may sound almost whimsical, says the Conference Board of Canada, but the reality of overcrowded housing in Canada’s North is no laughing matter. Virtually all social and health problems increase dramatically when combined with overcrowded housing, says the organization in a Sept. 24 news release. “Almost all social and health problems increase dramatically when combined with overcrowded housing,” said Gilles Rhéaume, the Conference Board’s vice-president for public policy. “Crowded housing is an issue that clearly demonstrates a north-south divide in Canada.” In Statistics Canada’s Keewatin census division, which covers the Kivalliq region in Nunavut, 25 per cent of homes have six or more people living in them — the highest percentage of overcrowding in Canada. Close behind are regions in five provinces which also have census divisions showing that 10 per cent or more of the homes are overcrowded.
Posted 26 September 2010; 5:12:22 PM. Permalink
(Siku Circumpolar News, 18 September 2010) -- Greenland's welfare level has risen, but it's led to greater inequality in the distribution of goods and opportunities among the population, Greenland's premier Kuupik Kleist told the parliament in Nuuk when it started its autumn session on Sept. 17. A showdown to end inequities of society was the main thread throughout Kleist's opening speech, reports Sermitsiaq. Kleist announced a campaign on all fronts with the goal of closing the gap between rich and poor. And the government plans to measure these inequalities not only in terms of money, but also with respect to access to a safe childhood, a good education and a healthy and meaningful life. Reform is necessary, Kleist said. "We cannot continue as before. The status quo is not an option," he said. September 21 will be devoted to a formal debate on the issue.
Posted 20 September 2010; 4:52:13 PM. Permalink
(Gabrielle Zarate/Nunatsiaq News via Vancouver Sun, 11 September 2010) -- GRISE FIORD, Nunavut — Larry Audlaluk wasn’t even three years old when he first saw the narrow stretch of land below high, imposing cliffs — prone to rock slides — that would become home. “There were times when my mother used to be very sad,” Audlaluk said as he recalled the hazy memories of his early childhood in Grise Fiord, on the southern shore of Ellesmere Island. “It was difficult to remember her listening to all the promises that were broken.” The mood was sombre but hopeful on Sept. 10 in Canada’s most northerly community, today home to about 150 people, as representatives of Inuit organizations and the federal government unveiled the second of two monuments to the High Arctic Exiles, this one made by carver Looty Pijamini. Audlaluk has spent much of his adult life lobbying for national recognition of the High Arctic relocation, a quest that culminated in the establishment of permanent monuments in Grise Fiord and Resolute, also in Nunavut, and an official apology from the federal government in August. “I hope this will start a new era of life here,” he said. But the apology came too late for those who most needed to hear it: the original exiles, moved by the federal government from their homes far to the south in Inukjuak, Que., in the mid-1950s. “The people that we are thinking about right now are not with us, they are in the ground right now, resting,” said Grise Fiord’s mayor, Meeka Kiguktak, speaking in Inuktitut. “It would have been better if it had been done 10, 20 years ago,” she said in a later interview.
Posted 12 September 2010; 10:51:55 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 10 September 2010) -- A mosque destined for the Arctic is inching closer to its final home in Inuvik, N.W.T., having made it on time to the final barge of the year. The truck transporting the mosque arrived late Thursday in Hay River, N.W.T., where it is expected to be put on the barge around 12 p.m. MT Friday and floated down the Mackenzie River to Inuvik. Built by a Manitoba-based Islamic charity, the mosque has been on a long and challenging road journey since leaving Winnipeg on Sept. 1. Had the mosque missed Friday's barge, it would have had to wait until the river shipping season resumes in June. "Thank God the mosque has arrived safely into Hay River. They arrived right before dark," Hussain Guisti, who heads the Zubaidah Tallab Foundation that raised the money to build and ship the structure, told CBC News late Thursday. "The worst is over, thank God, and it should be on the barge around noon."
Posted 12 September 2010; 9:20:06 PM. Permalink
(AP via New York Times, 29 August 2010) -- ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Two police officers were fatally shot in a tiny Native village in southeast Alaska and authorities were in a standoff Sunday with the suspect, local officials said. Bob Prunella, acting Hoonah city administrator, said officers Tony Wallace and Matt Tokuoka died after the shooting late Saturday. He didn't know what led to the shooting. The suspect, 45-year-old John Marvin Jr., has barricaded himself in his home, and Alaska State Troopers and other law enforcement agencies are at the scene, authorities said. Tokuoka's father-in-law, George Martin, said Tokuoka, 39, was off-duty and had left Martin's home with his wife and two children moments before the shooting. Martin said he heard two shots, which were directed at Wallace, who was on-duty. The shots hit Wallace, Martin said. Tokuoka told his wife and children to get away from the site, and then he was shot as well, Martin said. "I imagine he was trying to administer help to this other officer when he got hit," he said. Wallace, 32, died during surgery in Juneau, 40 miles to the east, and Tokuoka died early Sunday at a village clinic, according to Martin. "The whole town's in shock," he said. "I've been getting calls all day. It's a bad situation." ... Prunella said the deaths leave the Tlingit village with just one officer. He said the southeast Alaska town of Wrangell is sending some officers to help. According to the law enforcement networking website www.usacops.com, Wallace had been with the Hoonah Police Department since 2008. He is from upstate New York and was a college wrestler. Wallace served as the small department's evidence officer, and was recently designated as a breath-test maintenance technician. The site says Tokuoka was a former Marine Corps staff sergeant who served in special operations. The Hawaii native has been with the department since spring 2009.
Posted 29 August 2010; 11:37:31 PM. Permalink
(Nunatsiaq News, 27 August 2010) -- In some regions of northern Canada, almost half of all adults have not completed high school, compared to one in 12 in southern Canada, according to the Centre for the North’s “High School Confidential” map, the third in the Conference Board of Canada’s “Here, the North” series. “There is a growing consensus that high school completion is linked to future opportunity. People without high school diplomas have fewer job opportunities, employment stability, and lower future earnings potential,” Gilles Rheaume, vice-president of the Conference Board of Canada, said in an Aug. 26 news release. Parts of northern Saskatchewan, Nunavut, and northern Manitoba have the highest rates of adults without a high school diploma. About one in two adults between the ages of 25 and 64 in each of these regions have not graduated from high school, while about one in three adults between the ages of 25 and 64 in northern Quebec have not graduated, shows the map, which is based on Statistics Canada figures. What this means is that random survey of 25 to 64 year olds in Ottawa would find one in 12 people doesn’t have a high school certificate. But in Nunavut, that number would be closer to one in two, says the Centre for the North, a Conference Board of Canada program, which works with aboriginal leaders, businesses, governments, communities, educational institutions, and other organizations, to achieve “prosperity in the North.” Its 2010 study, “Pathways to Success—How Knowledge and Skills at Age 15 Shape Future Lives in Canada,” which linked high school performance with future opportunity, noted that “the longer term prospects of early labour market entrants, with only a secondary education diploma or less, as well as those who graduated late from upper-secondary school, are also of concern. They may fall victim to increasing competition for jobs from those better qualified in terms of job opportunities, stability of employment, and future earnings.”
Posted 28 August 2010; 11:24:01 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 25 August 2010) -- Residents of Gjoa Haven, Nunavut, held a special flag-raising ceremony with Norwegian officials this week to honour Roald Amundsen, who spent two years in the community during his famed quest through the Northwest Passage. The Norwegian ambassador attended Monday's ceremony, in which the Canadian and Norwegian flags were raised near the Amundsen Centenary Cairn in Gjoa Haven. Also in attendance was Gier Klover, the director of the Fram Museum in Oslo, Norway. "I've been interested in polar histories since I was a kid, so Gjoa Haven, that's the place I've read about for 30 years," Klover told CBC News on Tuesday. "Just to be here, and the incredible friendliness and hospitality of the community, is very touching." Klover said his museum is dedicated to polar explorers like Amundsen, who set sail for the Northwest Passage in 1903 in his ship, Gjoa. The museum is building an extension to house the Gjoa, he added. Amundsen spent two winters near King William Island, in what is now Gjoa Haven, learning from local Inuit as he prepared for his expedition. "He perfected the skills, making him the ultimate polar explorer," Klover said. "He had huge respect for local learnings and local knowledge, and he spent every day trying to learn as much as possible there, as opposed to many other explorers." Amundsen made history when he completed the east-to-west voyage across the passage in 1906. Klover said Monday's ceremony commemorates the growing partnership between his museum and the community of Gjoa Haven. He said he brought some photographs that were taken by Amundsen, as a gift to the community.
Posted 27 August 2010; 10:52:02 PM. Permalink
(Iceland Review, 22 August 2010) -- A new tunnel between Ólafsfjördur and Siglufjördur will
be opened shortly and to mark the occasion keen knitters in the region
are making a 17-kilometer long scarf to connect the towns through the
tunnel in a warm manner. The initiative was launched by Frída Björk Gylfadóttir. So far 500 knitters have joined her and she is expecting even more. “New people keep signing up,” she told Morgunbladid. “We have 7.4 kilometers and both women and men are knitting. The youngest knitter, Haukur Orri Kristinsson, is ten years old and the oldest knitter is 94-year-old Nanna Franklínsdóttir,” Gylfadóttir added. Once the scarf has been completed and the tunnel inaugurated, the plan is to cut the scarf up into appropriate lengths and sell them in support of charities. When asked where all the yarn comes from, Gylfadóttir explained that wool producer Ístex has given them a generous discount but people are also efficient in using scrap yarn. “I have also received financial contributions from here and there,” she said, adding that yarn has also been sent to her from all around Iceland and even from abroad, from countries such as Denmark, Sweden, Norway, the US, Estonia and Germany. Those who are interested in monitoring the knitters’ progress can find further information on Gylfadóttir’s website, frida.is.
Posted 22 August 2010; 12:52:33 PM. Permalink
(Don Martin/National Post via Canada.com, 21 August 2010) -- If the weather is clear next week, possibly on the very day Prime Minister Stephen Harper drops in for a visit, whale hunters in this economically depressed Arctic Ocean outpost could watch their former and future prosperity being towed to Alaska. The last drilling rig in Canada's Beaufort Sea is on the move, to a standby position in U.S. waters to drill a relief well in case of an oil spill. ... The departing rig is a sure sign of hard times in the Mackenzie Delta twins of Tuktoyaktuk and Inuvik. Locals hope Mr. Harper will come bearing gifts on Wednesday and Thursday. "He must be bringing something," says colourful Tuktoyaktuk Mayor Mervin Gruben, sporting a Tuk U cap and shorts in a heat wave of 20C last month. "He wouldn't just come here for a visit, would he?" Stay tuned, but the region definitely needs help. Evidence of the 1980s oil and gas exploration rush is hard to spot in this rundown hamlet, which clings to a scenic Arctic Ocean shoreline overlooking a horizon of ice-heaved pingo geological formations. Seismic activity has slowed to a sputter throughout the western Arctic as well drilling ceased. The distant early warning or DEW line station, which required hundreds of locals to build and operate, has been bulldozed and replaced with automated radar surveillance. And climate change has complicated living off the land as the hamlet's only land link, the famous Mackenzie River ice highway, freezes later and melts earlier. Row after row of dilapidated Tuktoyaktuk public housing projects are filled with welfare recipients and, despite a restriction on importing liquor that has dramatically cut crime since it was introduced in April, intoxicated people are a regular sight on the streets. For Mayor Gruben, a good-natured businessman who seems to know everybody in this hamlet of 900 Inuvialuit so well we christened him King Tuk, there's been enough government handouts. It's time for a hand up.
Posted 22 August 2010; 12:18:49 PM. Permalink
(RIA Novosti, 1 August 2010) -- Khabarovsk - Seven people were killed and another eight injured after two minivans collided on a highway in the Magadan Region in the Russian Far East, the regional emergencies center said on Sunday. The road accident occurred on the 297th km (185th mile) of the Kolyma highway on Sunday afternoon. The persons injured in the accident have been hospitalized, the emergencies center said. Police are investigating the causes of the accident, the emergencies center said. According to statistics, 30,000 people lose their lives in traffic accidents every year in Russia due to the poor state of highway networks and reckless driving.
Posted 1 August 2010; 10:32:30 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 14 July 2010) -- One of the oldest buildings in Inuvik, N.W.T., has burned to the ground, as has the local recycling depot. The Wrangling River Supply furniture store and warehouse caught fire shortly after 1 a.m. MT Wednesday. No one was injured in the blaze, but losses are expected to be in the millions of dollars. Also destroyed in the fire was Inuvik's recycling depot. Tonnes of plastic bottles caught fire and started smoking and melting. Inuvik fire Chief Al German told CBC News that the operation was made more complicated by faulty cellphone service. A taxi driver who first saw the fire had to drive to find a landline and call the fire department. Weary firefighters continued to soak the wreckage on Wednesday afternoon. More than 12 hours after the fire started, flames were still coming from the wreckage, as a mechanical shovel moved debris into a pile to be soaked.
Posted 14 July 2010; 9:44:52 PM. Permalink
(Kyle Hopkins/Anchorage Daily News, 11 July 2010) -- Maybe you saw them Saturday. Twenty-six students from far-away Yup'ik villages strolling under gray skies along the Anchorage coastal trail and ordering milkshakes at Red Robin. Next time say hello. A new three-year, $1.6 million program plans to help these teenagers go to college or job training — and stick with it — on their way to becoming your classmate and co-worker. Your airplane pilot. Your boss. Paid for with a federal Department of Education grant and launched by the Alaska Humanities Forum, the program focuses on students who are two years from finishing high school and in many cases would be the first in their families to go college. Fredrick Alexie, 16, arrived from the lower Yukon River village of Emmonak. Recruiters for the program couldn't believe how high he scored on high school graduation qualifying exams, he said. With his swooping bangs and black hoodie, Alexie could be any Anchorage teen, but he says this is only his second visit to the city. The first was when he was born. Others know every shopping mall in Anchorage, but all may face the day when they'll travel hundreds of miles from familiar, tight-knit villages to earn degrees. The program, called "Take Wing," is meant to familiarize the teens with campus life and assure the students and their families that, as one organizer put it, it's OK for them to be selfish about their education. In Anchorage on Saturday, they began the day at the Alaska Native Heritage Center in the woods of East Anchorage -- a kind of gradual introduction to the city. ... Alexie and students from several Yukon and Kuskokwim River villages will spend the next week living in University of Alaska Anchorage campus housing, learning their way around the city and meeting Alaska Native college students and professionals who navigated the dual worlds of campus and village life. Already the students studied prices at Fred Meyer, learning how much it would cost to stock a dorm room. There will be rock climbing. On one of the days, groups of students will be dropped off in downtown Anchorage with their supervisors and have to find their way back to UAA. They'll return to the city next year and the year after that, as Take Wing organizers work with their families to encourage the students to leave home for schooling in the face of commercial fishing demands, family emergencies and simple homesickness. Already during the short visit, reports of a recent suicide in one of the Yukon-Kuskokim Delta villages touched Take Wing students Saturday. "The more we're able to build their resilience in themselves, the more we're hoping they will be able to overcome these challenges," Matthews said.
Posted 11 July 2010; 11:08:08 PM. Permalink
(The Canadian Press via CTV, 20 June 2010) -- MONTREAL — An Arctic community that has seen its fire hall sink and roads buckle in the melting permafrost is now shifting future building projects away from town. The effect of vanishing permafrost -- soil normally frozen year round -- is now being felt across Canada's North, and the Quebec village of Salluit is just one of many Arctic towns trying to adapt to an increasingly warmer climate. Rising temperatures are being blamed for natural disturbances in the North, such as the rapidly eroding coastline of Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., and unprecedented floods that knocked out two bridges in Pangnirtung, Nunavut. Salluit even considered relocating the whole town. One of Quebec's northernmost communities, Salluit saw its local fire station sink into the softening ground a year after it opened. Across town, paved roads have crumpled, foundations of buildings have cracked and now even summertime grave-digging isn't what it used to be. A few years ago, it took considerable effort just to dig a foot into what was once ice-solid earth, says one resident of the Nunavik village. "We used to need hammers and all that because it was frozen solid all the way through," said Noah Tayara, a local representative for Makivik Corp., northern Quebec's governing body. "(Today), we don't need those. We can shovel to six feet without having to go through the permafrost." For years, the people of Salluit, shielded by a bunker-like valley on Sugluk Inlet off the Hudson Strait, faced the prospect of uprooting their town to move away from the defrosting turf. Following two years of scientific studies, experts have concluded the village can stay put. But the community's much-needed expansion will have to go elsewhere and follow specific construction guidelines. "We can safely say that there's no relocation of houses that are sitting permanently right now," said Michael Cameron, a Salluit municipal councillor. Instead, he said the village hopes to secure government funding to build up to 500 two-bedroom homes at several chosen sites within a few kilometres of the community. Cameron noted the shift to outlying areas is partly due to a lack of space in the town of 1,100. The new housing developments, which aim to ease overcrowding that often sees three generations living under one roof, will be constructed in sturdier areas that feature a mix of bedrock, clay, sand, gravel and permafrost. The plans were presented at a public meeting two weeks ago, helping calm fears the town was under the threat of mudslides. "There is permafrost beneath us and it's changing, but they said it's not so big a problem that we would . . . suffer a landslide into the sea," said Paul Okituk, general manager of Qaqqalik Landholding Corp. in Salluit.
Posted 22 June 2010; 7:54:39 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 10 June 2010) -- People in Labrador are mourning the passing of an outspoken Inuk elder. Mary Adams, 76, is being remembered as someone who spoke for people who didn't have a voice, such as Inuit women. When Adams was appointed to the provincial human rights commission in 2009 she called the justice system must do more to help Inuit women in jails. "We put them in the penitentiaries and things, we lock them up and there's no help for them, there's nothing for them to do," she said. Adams was raised near Rigolet, Labrador. She went to the boarding school in North West River, central Labrador, and eventually moved to nearby Happy Valley-Goose Bay. Adams worked as a translator in the courts and in the health system. She also served on the provincial legal aid commission. Alex Saunders was a friend. "The number one thing I would remember Mary for would be her willingness to let anyone know what she was on her mind," he said. Adams suffered a heart attack as she was flying home from St. John's on Monday.
Posted 13 June 2010; 3:32:34 PM. Permalink
(Lori Townsend/APRN Anchorage, 9 June 2010) -- The Northwest Arctic Borough Assembly in Kotzebue voted yesterday to discontinue $125,000 in funds for the public library that will force it to close, leaving the region with no access to a public library. The library is a consortium with the University of Alaska Chukchi campus. The college portion will remain open but the public side will close unless the borough assembly reconsiders. Calls to Borough Mayor Martha Whiting, and Borough assembly members were not returned by air time, but Stacy Glaser, who was the library’s director for 15 years before leaving the position last year, says past attempts to close the library have always brought an outcry from the community.
(Anchorage Daily News, 4 June 2010) -- The Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman has kicked off a summerlong series of articles marking the 75th anniversary of the Matanuska "Colony," established as part of the Depression-era New Deal in an attempt to create a new local farm economy and give 200 struggling Midwest families a chance at a better life. Palmer resident Gerry Keeling, whose mother was pregnant with her when her family arrived in Palmer in 1935, looks back in Part 1 of the series.
Posted 7 June 2010; 9:48:39 AM. Permalink
(Indian and Northern Affairs Canada press release, 21 May 2010) -- A new northern food retail subsidy program called Nutrition North Canada will make healthy food more accessible and affordable to Canadians living in isolated Northern communities, thanks to the Government of Canada. Nutrition North Canada, which replaces the Food Mail Program, was announced today by the Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, and Minister for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health and Minister Responsible for the North. Under the new program, the most nutritious perishable foods such as fruits, vegetables, bread, fresh meats, milk and eggs will receive the highest rate of subsidy. The revised list of eligible items also includes a provision to improve access to commercially-produced traditional, Northern foods. Nutrition North Canada, which will benefit people living in eligible communities in the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador, will be implemented in phases. The transition to the new program begins with the release today of a revised eligibility list, which will come into effect on October 3, 2010. Full implementation will occur on April 1, 2011. ... The new program is now a cost-effective, market-driven model to ensure greater efficiency and transparency. The Government of Canada will directly subsidize retailers and wholesalers who already ship large volumes of food and goods to the North. Individuals and institutions will still be able to place personal orders and benefit from the subsidy. This is particularly important for those with special dietary needs, and preserves a measure of competition for Northern retailers. An Advisory Board is being established to give Northerners a direct voice in the program and provide advice related to its management and effectiveness.
Posted 21 May 2010; 11:23:52 AM. Permalink
(The Arctic Sounder, 29 May 2010) -- As erosion creeps ever closer, residents of a tiny Southwest Alaska village continue their slow but steady work to relocate to higher ground. The Yup'ik Eskimo village of Newtok has completed construction of a landing barge, part of an ambitious multi-government endeavor driven by local leaders. The barge is a crucial piece of infrastructure for the new site nine miles from the flood-prone community of 350. A landing strip has not yet been built, but road construction is set to begin. The Marines and other military branches are providing personnel and heavy equipment to build a 3,800-foot road this summer between the site of a planned evacuation center and their base camp that they built last year near the barge landing. Stanley Tom, Newtok's tribal administrator, said locals also hope three new houses will be added to three homes already there. "We're making progress," he said. "We will gradually build houses." The evacuation center will serve as a bridge for residents and could later function as tribal offices or some kind of community center once the move is complete. Tom said the erosion that has fueled a sense of urgency among locals continues. Newtok has one of the shortest projected life spans among scores of Alaska native villages affected by erosion and flooding blamed in part to rising temperatures.
Posted 19 May 2010; 5:10:01 PM. Permalink
(Globe and Mail, 17 May 2010) -- A federal program that subsidizes the shipping of nutritious, perishable foods by air to remote northern communities will be awarded to three retailers instead of Canada Post, CBC News has learned. The government is expected to make an announcement this week that North West Company, Arctic Co-operatives Limited and La Fédération des coopératives du Nouveau-Québec will be provided with the multi-million dollar subsidy instead of the national postal service, the CBC's Laurie Graham reported. Canada Post declined to comment. Ottawa has been providing Canada Post with a $60-million annual subsidy to deliver fresh food to the North under the Food Mail Program. Along with letters and packages, the national postal service trucks food and other items from warehouses to places such as Val-d'Or, Que., where they're then flown to remote northern communities. It's a method that has long been criticized as too expensive and time-consuming. Last year, officials with the Indian and Northern Affairs Department said they were contemplating running the program without the carrier service, and dealing directly with food suppliers in an effort to shave transportation costs. In April, Indian and Northern Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl told the House of Commons the program had to change. "Northerners deserve to have a program they can count on, and we are going to deliver that to them," he said. The hope is that by cutting out the middleman, the retailers will be able to get nutritious food to northern grocery shelves more efficiently, Graham reported.
Posted 17 May 2010; 10:58:45 PM. Permalink
(Joseph Robertia/The Redoubt Reporter, 5 May 2010) -- From the tales of elders long passed to more modern poems of still-living members, the Kenaitze Indian Tribe continues to share its stories and rich oral history as a way to pass on knowledge. In recent decades, the tribe had worked with anthropologists and others to put those words to paper in an effort to keep the endangered Kenai dialect of the Dena’ina Athabascan language alive. The culmination of all this linguistic preservation work was demonstrated last week when Kenai Peninsula College anthropology students — some of whom had no knowledge of the language just 16 weeks ago — wrote and spoke in Dena’ina for their final exam. “Taking students who knew little about Dena’ina to writing sentences in a very complicated language has been 30 years in the works,” said Alan Boraas, instructor for the Dena’ina language course. Dena’ina is to language what differential calculus is to mathematics. It’s difficult to learn, and even more so when there are no speakers of the Kenai dialect alive and willing to share their linguistic knowledge through typical methods, such as immersion sessions.
Posted 6 May 2010; 12:12:27 AM. Permalink
(Iceland Review, 30 April 2010) -- This weekend, at least 100 people have volunteered to help clean ash from farms and other inhabited areas below the Eyjafjöll mountain range that were subject to the most extensive ash fall from the volcano in Eyjafjallajökull glacier. The cleaning initiative began last weekend. This time the emphasis will be placed on the hamlet Skógar while various other projects will be tended to as well, Morgunbladid reports. The largest group of volunteers comes from the Westman Islands, where many people have relatives in the Eyjafjöll region. “Others are keen on helping out some other way, for example by baking for those who are cleaning,” said police officer Vagn Kristjánsson, who manages the initiative from the service center in Heimaland. “I believe it is important that as many people as possible contribute to the restoration work below Eyjafjöll,” said Hólmfrídur Halldórsdóttir from Mosfellsbaer, who has been busy baking in the past days. Yesterday Halldórsdóttir sent 15 kilos of special Icelandic kleinur (twisted doughnuts) and ástarpungar (doughnut balls) to the ash-ridden area. This week’s cleaning initiative began yesterday when around 20 volunteers helped out with ash cleaning below the Eyjafjöll mountains.
Posted 2 May 2010; 10:36:26 PM. Permalink
(The Local, 21 April and 28 April 2010) -- Macho men, monotony, mosquitoes: Englishman Alec Forss heard all the clichés trotted out as he made known his plans to move to northern Sweden. But nothing could deter him from plunging headlong into the vast wilderness beyond the Arctic circle. Part one in a two-part series. ... I came to understand that the Swedish north conjured up all sorts of enduring myths and stereotypes, as well as general ignorance, among many southern Swedes. Genuinely puzzled as to why I should want to move there, it was clear that anyone with ambitions did not move north. It might be good for fishing, but that was about it. Rather than putting me off, it made me want to go there all the more. See also A new life in northern Sweden - Part Two
Posted 29 April 2010; 1:49:49 AM. Permalink
(Barents Observer, 27 April 2010) -- In a recently published study, the Norwegian Coastal Administration concludes that the port of Kirkenes is the best choice in eastern Finnmark for base operations for the petroleum industry. The study has evaluated the ports of eastern Finnmark as base ports for offshore operations in the Barents Sea. Important factors which have been evaluated are harbor debt, harbor infrastructure, areas at disposal, road and airport facilities and relevant industry in the area. The study concludes that Kirkenes is the port best suited for such operations in eastern Finnmark. The harbor dept is 30 meters in general, there are large areas which can be used for service purposes and the town has both good airport connections and road infrastructure. "Among the ports studied in this report, only Kirkenes fulfill the demands which are set for a future oil base in eastern Finnmark," the conclusion states. Advisor of the Norwegian Barents Secretariat, Oddgeir Danielsen, says that this report only underlines what has been known by most people working with development of the oil and gas industry in the eastern part of the Barents Sea. "Only Kirkenes has the harbor infrastructure needed for service operations for the petroleum industry. At the same time the location is maybe even more advantageous for Kirkenes. It is the harbor located closest to Russia, the main airport of eastern Finnmark is located here and the road connections to Russia and to the south are also in the benefit of Kirkenes," says Danielsen. Another important factor which gives Kirkenes an advantage compared to other ports, is the scope of the existing local industry. Kirkenes has one out of few ship yards in northern Norway, and can thus provide key competence for service work to the petroleum industry. In addition there is the wide range of mechanical competence within the Sydvaranger mine company, which adds to the industrial capability of the Kirkenes community, says Danielsen.
Posted 27 April 2010; 4:18:50 PM. Permalink
(YLE via Siku Circumpolar News, 27 April 2010) -- The city of Oulu is about to get bigger, YLE reports. Oulu, Haukipudas, Oulunsalo, Kiiminki and Yli-Ii decided this week to consolidate into one municipality. The nearby town of Muhos, however, did not join. Representatives from the six towns meet on Tuesday in Yli-Ii to discuss future plans. The new municipality will have over 180,000 residents. It will surpass Turku to become Finland's fifth largest city.
Posted 27 April 2010; 3:24:52 PM. Permalink
WINNIPEG - Thanks to a Manitoba Muslim charity, the Arctic could soon have its first mosque. The Zubaidah Tallab Foundation formed in 2007 and quickly realized its initial goal of building a mosque in Thompson, so it's no surprise the organization took up the cause of raising a place of worship for the 100-strong Muslim community of Inuvik, N.W.T. The foundation's general manager, Hussain Guisti, said the organization quickly agreed to get on board with raising funds for the $271,000 project and securing plans for the Inuvik mosque after they learned the Northwest Territories community was looking for help in January 2009. Lots purchased by the Muslim Association of Inuvik have been transferred to Zubaidah Tallab and work is getting underway in Winnipeg on the new structure being called the "Mosque on the Tundra" that Guisti hopes will begin a 4,500-km land and water journey next fall. The building will be trucked up to Hay River, N.W.T., on Great Slave Lake, where it will be taken by barge up the Mackenzie River to Inuvik. The foundation still needs to raise a significant amount of the funds for the project, but Guisti said he's confident the Muslim community will step up to the challenge. The foundation will own the mosque but it will be managed by the local community. "It's very significant for them," said Guisti. "They really need a mosque. Right now they're using a trailer which is nine by 14 feet, which does not accommodate their needs." The new building will also serve as a community gathering place in the town of about 3,500. Guisti expects other northern Canadian Muslims will also travel to use the new mosque. "We're doing pretty much everything until it gets up there," he said of the Zubaidah Tallab Foundation. "The community will lift it from the barge and put it on the foundation." The community will also add a minaret after the building is in place, Guisti said. The mosque will feature men's and women's prayer halls and an ablution room for ritual purification before prayer. Guisti said the most northerly-located existing mosque in Canada is in Whitehorse, Yukon.
Posted 25 April 2010; 7:01:35 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 1 April 2010) -- RBC is introducing Cree and Inuktitut — two of the most commonly spoken indigenous languages in the country — to its multi-language telephone service, the bank said Wednesday. RBC says it is the first Canadian financial institution to offer telephone services in these languages. Nunavut Minister of Languages Louis Tapardjuk praised the bank's announcement Wednesday, saying all organizations operating in the territory will eventually have to offer such services. "Of course this is the homeland of the Inuit, so those requiring services should not feel alienated in their homeland," said Louis Tapardjuk. Launched in 2008, RBC's multi-language telephone service has more than 2,600 interpreters working in 180 different languages to help with business and personal banking. Service in Cree and Inuktitut begins immediately. "Canada is home to a variety of languages that many organizations do not recognize, or have the capacity to service through translation," Dale Sturges, national director, aboriginal banking, RBC, said in a news release. Phil Fontaine, former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations and special adviser to RBC, says access to banking services plays an important role in wealth creation in aboriginal communities. "Cree is spoken by approximately 117,000 people and there are roughly 35,000 Canadians who speak Inuktitut, making them two of the most common indigenous languages spoken across the country," Fontaine said in a news release.
Posted 4 April 2010; 11:46:08 AM. Permalink
(Jane George/Nunatsiaq News, 23 March 2010) -- Muskox spaghetti, meatballs, burgers and casseroles are on the menu in many Kitikmeot households this week thanks to a giveaway in the region. Cambridge Bay’s Kitikmeot Food Ltd. gave 350 one-pound packages of federally-inspected ground muskox meat to the Ikaluktutiak wellness centre. And 250 similar packages went to each of the other communities in the Kitikmeot via Canadian North — which picked up the tab for the cargo. A community feast March 20 at the Luke Novoligak centre in Cambridge Bay also featured muskox meatballs with spaghetti sauce and pasta donated by Northbest Distributors in Yellowknife. Students in the cooking program at Nunavut Arctic College cooked and served up the feast. The muskox meat feast and distribution is Kitikmeot Foods’ way of celebrating a successful harvest, said co-manager Monique Giroux. This year from Feb. 22 to March 11, hunters took 158 muskox. That’s about 20 fewer muskox than last year, due to the stormy weather.
Posted 23 March 2010; 11:51:05 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 22 March 2010) -- An Iqaluit woman wants to write a book about the significant Filipino community living in Nunavut's capital. Rhose Ghalia came to Iqaluit as a nanny 10 years ago under the federal government's live-in caregiver program. She's since been licensed to work as an operating room nurse in Qikiqtani Hospital. She is married, has a son and a employs a Filipina nanny herself. Ghalia says it's not an uncommon story. "A majority of the nannies I know that came are still here," said Ghalia. "I think it's the fact that the sense of community is very strong." Ghalia guesses there are about 100 Filipinos in Iqaluit, doing everything from nursing to government work. "I was thinking how many nannies, how many Filipinos here, in Iqaluit or Nunavut, came up as nannies. Now they have high-paying jobs in government, or are business people, or are the people to go to when you have problems. And how many of them started the way I did?" she said. Ghalia said that living in a friendly, small town atmosphere makes it easier for people to integrate in the community while still retaining their own culture. Since the 1980s Canada's live-in caregiver program has allowed thousands of domestic workers to come to Canada and work in Canadian homes. For foreign nannies, the program offfers housing, work and the chance to apply for permanent residency. In Iqaluit, the arrival of the Filipina nannies has also helped shape a new and unique community. Caregiver Joevie Acbayaan has lived in Iqaluit for two years. And while she is now working for her third employer, she plans to stick around a while longer. "I mean, you will surely miss the trees down south, but living up here, you just have to enjoy the things they have here."
Posted 22 March 2010; 11:27:47 PM. Permalink
(Jane George/Nunatsiaq News, 14 March 2010) -- Blackberries and GPS satellite messengers will help keep track of hunters on the land and assist search and rescue teams in Nunavut, said Lorne Kusugak, the minister of community and government services, who announced that all communities will receive 20 Spot satellite GPS messengers each. If a hunter gets into trouble, they can press a button on one of devices, and it will send a message saying if they need help or if they’re okay, Kusugak said in the Nunavut legislature. Spot messengers can also send an SOS message or customized message, and allow contacts to track a user’s location. Messages sent from Spot locations will go to three emergency services officials with Blackberries in Iqaluit, Kusugak said. The messages received on the Blackberries, which combine cell phone and internet technology, will allow officials to contact search and rescue parties to let them know exactly where a message is coming from and what it says, Kusugak said. There will be somebody always assigned to at least one of the Blackberries at any given time, Kusugak said. ... Spot messengers will made available through local search and rescue committees, at their office or the hamlet office, Kusugak said. Hunters will be able sign out Spot messengers and must return them after completion of their hunt so somebody else can use them, Kusugak said.
Posted 15 March 2010; 2:53:10 PM. Permalink