(Trude Pettersen/Barents Observer, 13 February 2013) -- The Sami population on the Kola Peninsula is in a hard demographic situation. Their numbers have declined nearly 10 percent in eight years. According to the 2010 population census there were 1599 Sami living in the region. This is 170 less than in the 2002 census. The sex ratio in the Sami population is changing for the worse; while there were 1173 women for every 1000 men in 2002, the ratio was 1236 to 1000 in 2010. The Sami are the youngest nationality in Murmansk, with an average age of only 31.6 years. The average age of the total population is 37 years. While the majority of the Russian population on the Kola Peninsula lives in towns, most of the Sami in are living in non-urban areas. The settlement of Lovozero in the center of the peninsula is known as “the Sami capital of Russia”. The Sami language is also in a difficult situation in the Murmansk region. Only 17 percent of the Sami population in Murmansk considered Sami language to their native in the 2010 census, m51 reports, citing Murmanstat.
Posted 18 February 2013; 2:50:05 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 12 january 2013) -- World-renowned Inuk artist Kenojuak Ashevak died this morning at home in Cape Dorset, Nunavut, at age 85. Ashevak is considered a pioneer of Inuit art. Her drawings, prints and sculptures have been bought and displayed around the world. Her work has also been featured on several Canada Post stamps over the years, including her most famous print, Enchanted Owl. Ashevak was born in 1927 in a camp on Baffin Island and lived the traditional nomadic life on the land before settling in Cape Dorset. Okpik Pitseolak, an artist from Cape Dorset who knew Ashevak personally, said she brought Inuit art to the world but was "very humble about her work." Pitseolak said that when she appeared on the radio to talk about her art, she didn't want to come across "as someone who brags" about it. But she was "thankful for the fact that she was given this gift.” Ashevak died after a long battle with cancer. Director of Feheley Fine Arts Patricia Feheley, a Toronto dealer who handled Ashevak’s work, said she should be remembered as one of Canada’s great artists. ... Ashevak first became famous in her 20s, when the NFB film Kenojuak, made in 1962, showed her at work. She was creating drawings, prints and even sculptures in the 1960s. As her reputation grew, so did the reputation of Cape Dorset, the Inuit studio on Baffin Island that evolved into one of Canada’s most important artistic communities. ... Her legacy in Cape Dorset is “almost immeasurable,” Lalonde said. “She was so important to the print studio, the development of it – she influenced artists in the community to continue their artwork and become artists.”
Posted 14 January 2013; 3:02:57 PM. Permalink
(Ian Austin/New York Times, 12 January 2013) -- Kenojuak Ashevak, a once-nomadic artist from Canada's Arctic regions whose prints and drawings helped introduce Inuit art to much of the world, died on Tuesday at her home in Cape Dorset on West Baffin Island in the northern territory of Nunavut. She was 85. The cause was lung cancer, The Canadian Press news agency reported. Kenojuak as she was universally known, is probably best remembered for "The Enchanted Owl," a 1960 print showing an owl with wildly exaggerated feathers and a piercing stare. It became one of Canada's most famous works of art, appearing on a Canadian stamp in 1970 commemorating the centennial of the Northwest Territories.
Posted 14 January 2013; 2:32:33 PM. Permalink
(Cathy Hunter/National Geographic News Watch, 14 December 2012) -- [The thirty-three founders of the National Geographic Society were an adventurous and accomplished group. They included scientists, explorers, a journalist and a superintendent of the National Zoo. In recognition of the National Geographic Society’s upcoming 125th anniversary this series takes a look at their stories.] A.W. Greely’s 1881 Arctic expedition tragically demonstrated the hardships and deadliness of attempts to explore the Far North. Despite his achievements before and after the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition, his reputation would forever be tainted. ... In 1881, Greely was in charge of the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition to the Arctic in order to establish one of a chain of international circumpolar weather stations. This expedition began as part of the first International Polar Year, reached the high latitudes of Canada north of Baffin Bay as well as crossing Ellesmere Island for the first time, charting parts of the coast of Greenland, and achieving a new northern record of 83 degrees, 24 minutes. Unfortunately, two relief ships failed to appear. Commander Winfield Scott Schley at the head of a third relief vessel finally made it–but by then it was 1884, and 18 of the 25 men had died.
Posted 4 January 2013; 5:20:20 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
(Gloria Galloway/Globe and Mail, 1 May 2012) -- The woman who heads the organization representing Canada’s 55,000 Inuit will let someone else lead her people into their future. Mary Simon’s work on behalf of the aboriginal people of the North spans more than four decades. She was one of the negotiators for the Inuit when Canada’s Constitution was being crafted. In her six years as leader of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, she has witnessed the settling of the last major Inuit land claim, she has heard an apology from the Prime Minister for the treatment of the aboriginal children at residential schools, and she has seen increasing recognition of the Inuit title to the vast resources of Canada’s North. “There has never been a day when I didn’t like my job,” she said during a recent interview in her office in downtown Ottawa. But Ms. Simon, 64, has told The Globe and Mail she will not seek a third term when the ITK, which represents Inuit in 53 communities in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Northern Quebec and Labrador, holds its presidential election in early June. As she ponders the road forward, Ms. Simon knows much needs to be done. The progress made by the Inuit over the six years she has led their national organization has been “three steps forward and two steps back,” Ms. Simon said. ...
Posted 4 May 2012; 1:48:03 PM. Permalink
(Lisa Demer/Anchorage Daily News, 16 April 2012) -- Her father was a Point Hope whaling captain. Her mother taught her how to butcher the bowhead and care for the meat. The family depended on the sea and land for so much. Caroline Cannon's lifelong connection to the Arctic Ocean pushed her to become one of the state's most vocal opponents of offshore oil drilling. Now, just as Shell Oil is poised to drill exploration wells off Alaska's northern coast, her advocacy has won her a coveted environmental award. Cannon, an Inupiat mother of nine and grandmother of 26, is one of this year's winners of the Goldman Environmental Prize, described as the world's biggest for grassroots environmentalists. Cannon and the other five winners from around the world were officially announced Monday. Each will receive $150,000. Cannon is the former president of the Native Village of Point Hope, the tribal council that has been involved in a number of lawsuits aimed at stopping oil exploration and drilling in the Arctic. She lost her spot on the village council in a close election last year but expects to get back on soon. Point Hope, a village of about 700 people, is 330 miles southwest of Barrow on a gravel spit that forms the western-most extension of the northwest Alaska coast. The village is one of the oldest continuously occupied Inupiat areas in Alaska, according to the state Division of Community and Regional Affairs. Cannon has spoken up against offshore drilling countless times. At a national tribal summit with President Barack Obama in 2009, she told him "we are not prepared for this." She has sat down with environmental leaders and with Shell. She's traded barbs with Pete Slaiby, Shell's vice president for Alaska operations, and didn't quiet down after he corrected some of her assertions in a letter to the editor. "When you have something you feel strongly about, there's no turning that light off," Cannon said in an interview. "Meaning it's stronger than me."
Posted 16 April 2012; 10:11:57 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 12 February 2012) -- He learned Inuinnaqtun and worked to translate the Bible and hymns into the Inuktitut dialect. Bishop Andrew Ataguttaaluk knew Sperry well, having worked and travelled with him in the North since the 1970s. He said Sperry's translation work was instrumental in teaching the Anglican faith to the people of the Western Arctic. "That was part of his main work to see that the Scriptures and the liturgy become in the language of the people that he served," said Ataguttaaluk. "He has been more like a spiritual father to many of us in terms of his ministry across the diocese," he added. Sperry also visited unilingual Inuinnaqtun elders at Stanton Territorial Hospital in Yellowknife and served as the chaplain for the Canadian Forces Northern Region. Sperry was named to the Order of Canada in 2002. He was scheduled to receive one of the 60,000 Queen's Diamond Jubilee medals later this year. A funeral service in Yellowknife is being planned.
Posted 13 February 2012; 10:56:40 PM. Permalink
(Robert Hall/BBC News, 12 November 2011) -- There are calls for recognition for the sailors on the WWII Arctic Convoys who risked their lives to transport crucial supplies and munitions from Scotland to Russia. Although the bravery of the crews is not disputed, the men who served on the ships have never been officially recognised with a British campaign medal.
Posted 13 November 2011; 11:15:11 AM. Permalink
(Kim Murphy/Los Angeles Times, 26 August 2011) -- The arcane world of polar bear research was rocked recently by the suspension of a federal scientist in Alaska whose research on polar bear drownings in the Arctic raised major concerns about climate change. But the researcher was reinstated to his job Friday — and an inquiry has been launched to determine whether the Obama administration tried to interfere with his research. The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement confirmed that Charles Monnett — whose suspension in July sparked an outcry among fellow scientists, climate change researchers and opponents of offshore oil and gas drilling — has been recalled from six weeks of administrative leave. But he won't be resuming his previous work managing research contracts, the bureau said. Agency officials have sought to downplay the incident, saying Monnett was suspended for improperly administering contracts, not for documenting dead polar bears. "There is no truth to any suggestion that the return to work is in any way tied to … allegations against bureau leadership," said Melissa Schwartz, a spokeswoman for the bureau, which oversees oil and gas development in many of the same Arctic regions where polar bears are seeing their icy habitat shrink.
Posted 12 September 2011; 10:44:21 PM. Permalink
(Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada) -- The Yukon is a land of trailblazers in Aboriginal self-government. Since 1995, 11 of Yukon's 14 First Nations have become self-governing, and account for more than half of the national total of self-governing First Nations. In this podcast series, Voices of Vision: Yukon Aboriginal Self-Government, some of the key people who have been involved in the continuing journey of self-government and implementation share their stories in their own words. The podcast series, Voices of Vision: Yukon Aboriginal Self-Government, was created in partnership with the Council of Yukon First Nations, the Government of Yukon, the Government of Canada and Self-Governing Yukon First Nations.
Posted 21 August 2011; 9:22:52 AM. Permalink
(CBC via Yahoo! News, 4 August 2011) -- Canadian Inuit leader Mary Simon and acclaimed filmmaker Zacharias Kunuk are being honoured with the Governor General's Northern Medal. Simon and Kunuk are the latest recipients of the medal, which recognizes those who have made significant contributions to Canada's North. Both will receive their medals from Gov. Gen. David Johnston at a later date, Rideau Hall announced on Thursday. Simon is currently president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Canada's national Inuit organization. It represents Inuit in Nunavut, northern Quebec, Labrador and the Northwest Territories. She has lobbied national and international leaders on issues ranging from improving Inuit education to protecting the Arctic environment. Simon was Canada's ambassador of circumpolar affairs from 1994 to 2003, and concurrently as Canadian ambassador to Denmark from 1999 to 2001, making her the first Inuk to hold an ambassadorial position. ... As co-founder of Igloolik Isuma Productions in Nunavut, Kunuk made films such as Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner), which won the prestigious Camera d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2001. The Inuktitut-language film, which was set in Igloolik and featured an all-Inuit cast, also won five Genie awards, along with a clutch of international awards, and was named best Canadian feature at the 2001 Toronto International Film Festival. Kunuk was also involved in the making of The Journals of Knud Rasmussen and Before Tomorrow, both of which were critically acclaimed. He also produced a number of documentaries on Inuit culture and climate change.
Posted 8 August 2011; 5:25:26 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 7 July 2011) -- Yukon politicians and others are remembering NDP MLA Steve Cardiff, who was killed in a car crash on Wednesday, as an elected official who "wore his heart on his sleeve." "Steve has worked in just about every community throughout the territory. He's a man who wore his heart on his sleeve and had a passion for the people of this territory," Yukon NDP Leader Liz Hanson told CBC News. The RCMP's initial investigation into the crash revealed that Cardiff's pickup truck had somehow crossed into the opposite lane, hitting a tractor-trailer, police said on Thursday. "They found that a 1998 black Chevy S-10 pickup truck was proceeding north on the South Klondike Highway and for an unknown reason, crossed the centre line and struck a southbound transport trailer," said RCMP Sgt. Don Rogers. "As a result of that, both vehicles were badly damaged." RCMP said Cardiff was ejected from his vehicle and was found deceased at the scene. The driver of the tractor-trailer was sent to Whitehorse General Hospital with minor injuries, according to police.
Posted 8 July 2011; 4:15:34 PM. Permalink
(Mike Dunham/Anchorage Daily News, 3 March 2011) -- Former state poet laureate, homesteader and Alaska literary lion John Haines died Wednesday in Fairbanks. He was 86. Born in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1924, Haines came to Alaska after serving in the U.S. Navy in World War II. He homesteaded on the Richardson Highway, north of Delta, in the 1940s. He returned to Washington, D.C. to study art. But back on the homestead, the cold made it hard to use watercolors or even oil paints. He switched to poetry in the mid-1950s and, after 10 years, some of his work was picked up by important literary journals. In the 1966 he gained national attention with his first book of poetry, "Winter News," now considered a classic of modern American literature. The Russian poet Yvgeny Yvteshenko made it a point to stop by Haines' cabin and share shots of vodka with him when he visited the state that year. His writings about nature particularly caught the attention of readers in the emerging environmental movement. He was seen as the contemporary voice of a line of American frontier philosophers stretching from Benjamin Franklin to John Muir. But his voice was never preachy or condescending. Retired University of Alaska Fairbanks philosophy professor John Kooistra, a long-time friend, said the everyman nature of Haines' perspective was one reason for his popularity.
Posted 3 March 2011; 10:29:23 PM. Permalink
(Whit Fraser/Nunatsiaq News, 19 January 2011) -- Jose Kusugak never lost that unique ability to find and express humour in every situation, even in his final days. He died very early on the morning of January 19, at his home town of Rankin Inlet. Barely a week after doctors at the Winnipeg Cancer Centre told him he had only a few weeks to live because cancer of the bladder had spread to other vital organs, he was still able to laugh at his predicament. He was at his kitchen table, visiting and drinking tea. His brothers and sisters were providing constant hugs and love. His four children and Nellie, his loving wife of 34 years, cared for him while half dozen grandchildren played quietly on the floor. His hair had turned almost snow white, he had lost considerable weight, but the twinkle in his eye remained and a smile came across a face wrinkled from a lifetime of laughter as he shook two packets of Sweet and Low into his tea. “What the hell am I doing with this stuff? How can real sugar hurt me now?” Everybody laughed. Jose Amaujaq Kusugak, died as he had lived, candidly, publically and above all, with courage and control. He was 60. ... Jose Kusugak leaves behind a remarkable legacy, and family, including his wife Nellie, whom he credits for looking after him every moment of his illness “It was never when am I going for my treatment? It was always we are going for our treatment!” He and Nellie had four children: daughters Alana, Alicia and Special, and a son, Pujjuut, who this past Dec. 13 was elected mayor of Rankin Inlet. They also have 13 grandchildren. He is also survived by seven brothers: Michael, Cyril, Peter, Johnny, Lorne, Sean and Sikkate as well as three sisters: Monica, Joan, and Jean. A fourth sister, Donna, [predeceased] him as well as his mother Theresa and father Thomas. During his final days he put his life in context with three simple words. “I was blessed.” Family was his priority, though he regretted spending so much time away from them. His passions were music, sports and of course politics, but it was his humour that sustained him. “Every situation has a funny side to it. We owe it to our soul and spirit to laugh and see the sunny side of life.” To the end, he never failed to do that.
Posted 19 January 2011; 10:38:07 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 29 December 2010) -- Yukon photographer Paul Nicklen has had a lot to celebrate this month — even without Christmas. The Christmas 2010 issue of Outdoor Photographer magazine named Nicklen one of the world's 40 most influential nature photographers; he is featured in the cover story in the January 2011 issue of Photo Life magazine; and earlier this month, Up Here named him Northerner of the Year. Earlier this year, Nicklen won first prize for nature photography in the World Press Awards, and he had two images selected for inclusion in the International League of Conservation Photographers' 40 Best Nature Photographs of All Time auction. The awards are recognition that his photos are telling important stories, Nicklen said. ... Nicklen grew up on Baffin Island in Nunavut, studied marine biology at the University of Victoria for four years and then worked as a wildlife biologist in the Northwest Territories for four years. He now lives just outside of Whitehorse, but he travels the world, taking photos and writing for National Geographic. He's passionate about the wildlife he photographs and feels his images are a way of helping to preserve what he loves.
Posted 29 December 2010; 6:55:58 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
(CBC News, 1 December 2010) -- Yukon resident and acclaimed National Geographic photographer Paul Nicklen has been named the 2010 Northerner of the Year by Up Here Magazine. Nicklen was raised in Nunavut, went to school in Yellowknife and makes his home in Yukon. He studied biology at the University of Victoria before turning his passion for wildlife into a successful photojournalism career. He sold his first photo to Up Here Magazine for $72 nearly two decades ago. In its December issue, the magazine highlights Nicklen's work in an article titled "He'll Go to the Depths of Hell." The article focuses on the extreme measures Nicklen goes to in order to capture a picture, including diving beneath ice floes in frigid water and chasing deadly sea creatures. Nicklen is considered one of the world's greatest wildlife photographers and his iconic pictures have garnered him notoriety across the globe. He has appeared on Jeopardy and the Today Show, and has won five World Press Photo Awards.
Posted 2 December 2010; 1:14:30 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 22 November 2010) -- Distant relatives of the Nantuck brothers, two First Nations men who were hanged during the Klondike Gold Rush, say bones that might belong to their ancestors should have a proper burial. Talk about the Nantuck brothers resurfaced last week after two sets of human bones uncovered at a Dawson City construction site — widely believed to be a secret burial ground for executed Gold Rush convicts — were identified as being those of First Nations men. According to historical accounts, the only First Nations men who were executed in Dawson City during that time were Jim and Dawson Nantuck, who were hanged in August 1899 for shooting two prospectors on the McClintock River in southern Yukon, killing one of them. Two other Nantuck brothers were also convicted in the shooting, but they died of tuberculosis in jail before they could be executed. Richard Craft, a distant relative of the Nantucks, told CBC News that he has spoken to family members who believe the uncovered human remains should be brought back to them if they are confirmed as being those of the brothers. "If they were family, they should have a proper burial, you know, and I totally agree with that," Craft, who is now almost 70 years old, said Friday. But not everyone agrees that a proper burial is needed. Elder Ida Calmagen of the Carcross Tagish First Nation said ceremonies for the four Nantuck brothers would likely have been done around the time of their deaths. "I don't know if it would be proper to do it," Calmagen said.
Posted 22 November 2010; 3:01:19 PM. Permalink
(Paul Kennedy/Ideas on CBC Radio, 20 October 2010) -- In 1977, a Royal Commission looking into proposals to construct a pipeline from the Arctic Ocean to Alberta recommended a 10-year moratorium on pipeline development in the Mackenzie Valley until native land claims could be settled. That was only the beginning. Paul Kennedy talks with the head of the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry, justice Thomas Berger. [This 53-minute interview has Mr. Berger talking about his early Aboriginal rights cases, his political and judicial career, about the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry and its famous (in both official languages) report. He mentions his international indigenous rights work, too. Not to be missed!]
(Anchorage Daily News, 6 November 2010) -- Longtime Juneau resident, well-known economist and father of six adopted children, George W. Rogers, Ph.D., died Oct. 3, 2010, at the age of 93, after several years of declining health. A celebration of his life is set for 1 to 4 p.m. May 1, 2011, at Centennial Hall in Juneau. The public is invited. ... Rogers was instrumental in guiding Alaska to statehood, serving in 1955-56 as consultant to the Alaska Constitutional Convention and managing it when the convention secretary, Tom Stewart, was absent. ... Rogers was instrumental in guiding Alaska to statehood, serving in 1955-56 as consultant to the Alaska Constitutional Convention and managing it when the convention secretary, Tom Stewart, was absent. ... He will be remembered as a caring, humble, devoted and heartfelt man who always had kind words for others, who felt training and educating others was more important than taking credit for himself and who had a quick wit and a twinkle in his eye.
Posted 7 November 2010; 4:10:49 PM. Permalink
(Nunatsiaq News, 29 October 2010) -- Jonathan Motzfeldt, 72, one of the founders of Greenland’s home rule and its first and third premier, died Thursday, Oct. 28. “We knew Junnuk as a spirited personality, intelligent and human. Junnuk was for many years the Greenlandic people’s supporter and torch-bearer, our national rallying point. In our country’s recent history, there was not a prouder person than Junnuk,” said Greenland’s premier Kuupik Kleist following the announcement of Motzfeldt’s death. Motzfeldt suffered from cancer. Earlier this week, he had contracted pneumonia and was admitted to hospital where he died of a brain hemorrhage. Motzfeldt was born on Sept. 25, 1938 in Qassimiut in southern Greenland.
Posted 29 October 2010; 3:26:13 PM. Permalink
(Rachel D'Oro/Anchorage Daily News, 5 October 2010) - George Rogers, an unassuming giant among Alaska's founding fathers, has died at 93. Rogers died at his Juneau home on Sunday, said his daughter, Sidney Fadaoff. He had been ailing for a year but his condition worsened a week ago, she said. His exact cause of death was not disclosed. Rogers was considered an economic architect who helped shape the territory into the nation's 49th state. He was a technical consultant to the Alaska Constitutional Convention that convened in the 1950s before Alaska became a state in 1959. When the convention secretary took sick leave, Rogers stepped in to do that job as well, said Vic Fischer, former Democratic legislator and a convention delegate who became a good friend of Rogers'. "He was totally modest and unassuming," Fischer said. "Even while he was managing the convention, hardly anyone outside the convention was aware of that. That was very typical of his way of functioning." Rogers served as an economic adviser to two territorial governors, developing a revenue system. After statehood, he persuaded lawmakers to pass a bill creating the University of Alaska Anchorage's Institute of Social and Economic Research and was an early member and chairman of the board of trustees for the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp., which manages the state's $36 billion oil savings and investment account.
Posted 6 October 2010; 10:19:53 PM. Permalink
(News24, 28 August 2010) -- Moscow - Eleven Russian sailors have drowned in the Arctic after going to the rescue of a fishing boat that got into distress, the Moscow daily Komsomolskaya Pravda reported on Saturday. The Alexey Kulakowski sank in the early hours of Friday as part of a rescue mission in the Laptev Sea, around 35km outside the port of Tiksi. However, the captain of the ship, and two engineers, were rescued from the sinking vessel. According to some reports, there were only two life-jackets onboard for the 14 crew members.
Posted 28 August 2010; 11:21:52 PM. Permalink
(Anchorage Daily News, 19 August 2010) -- Shawn Ryan of Dawson, Yukon, and his family are just back from a European vacation. It was their first vacation, and it's hard to imagine one more deserved. After years of prospecting in the Yukon, living in a tin shack, searching for the long-rumored gold veins that fed nuggets into fabled Klondike streams, the Ryans are millionaires and could rake in millions more from the modern-day gold rush that Shawn started, reports Canada's Globe and Mail. Whether Ryan actually has discovered the source of Klondike gold has yet to be determined, but his finds have been significant enough to set off one of the biggest claim-staking frenzies since prospectors poured into the Yukon and Alaska in the 1890s. His newfound wealth comes mostly from deals signed with other prospectors giving them access to his claims.
Posted 22 August 2010; 12:05:10 PM. Permalink
(Jerome Lessard/QMI Agency, The Sudbury Star, 19 August 2010) --CFS ALERT, Nunavut - A family-run pizza business based in eastern Ontario is considering delivering pizzas to Canadian troops based in the Arctic. As impossible as it may sound, the Tomasso's Casual Dining is considering flying dozens of extra-large pizzas to Canadian Forces Station Alert in Nunavut. The station is the world's most northern permanently inhabited settlement. Mike Kotsovos, one of the three brothers who run the Trenton, Ont., restaurant, is a cousin of the northern station's current supply officer Sgt. Tim Lidster. "Everybody up here has been to CFB Trenton at some point during their career in the air force I think," said Lidster. "The CO and I think that would be great to set up something where we could get a dozen pizzas flown to Alert. We think it would be a great way to boost the morale of the troops during the long and dark months of winter," he said. If the idea goes ahead, the pizzas would likely be flown up as part of a re-supply operation. "The only catch is to know whether they would have to be pre-cooked or frozen," said Lidster, who is serving a six-month posting at the station. CFS Alert's current commanding officer Maj. Brent Hoddinott thinks the idea of getting the Tomasso's pizza "delivered" to the Nunavut station would be "a great happening. "And it would make a lot of people happy here in Alert, me the first," said Hoddinott.
Posted 21 August 2010; 12:33:02 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 28 July 2010) -- Yukon MLA and former NDP leader Todd Hardy died on Wednesday morning in Whitehorse at age 53 after a long fight with leukemia. "He was such an inspiration," NDP MLA and longtime colleague Steve Cardiff told CBC News. "He started a lot of different initiatives in order to improve the lives of Yukoners and that's the work that he leaves us to do. "He was working right up until the end, too. He was a hard worker. He had a lot of courage and enthusiasm." Hardy was diagnosed in 2006 with acute lymphoid leukemia, a blood cancer. In February 2009, Hardy announced he would step down as Yukon NDP leader. He was replaced by Elizabeth Hanson in September. "As a younger person, I used to say I may have lost, but I've never been beaten, ever. And I don't say that anymore," Hardy told reporters when he announced his resignation. "Maybe I was a little bit too arrogant in that kind of statement … and my leukemia, in many ways, has beaten me." In addition to representing Whitehorse Centre in the Yukon legislature, Hardy was a martial arts instructor, hockey coach and carpenter. He was also one of the driving forces behind Habitat for Humanity projects in the territory. Hardy died at home, surrounded by his family. He is survived by his wife, Louise, a former Yukon MP, their four children and a granddaughter. The funeral will be at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Mount McIntyre Recreation Centre in Whitehorse.
Posted 28 July 2010; 2:51:44 PM. Permalink
(Iceland Review, 19 July 2010) -- Three women who embarked on a 650-km trek across Iceland 30 days ago will complete their journey today when they walk the remaining 35 kilometers to Fontur, the outermost point of Langanes peninsula in northeast Iceland. “The atmosphere is great and the journey has been amazingly successful. Some parts were more difficult than others but it becomes easier when we think back on it as often happens,” one of the walkers, Kristín Jóna Hilmarsdóttir, told Morgunbladid. Her traveling companions are Anna Lára Edvardsdóttir and Margrét Hallgrímsdóttir. “What stands out is to have waded the powerful Thjórsá river up to our waists—we had to get help crossing it,” Hilmarsdóttir described. “We also met [Finance Minister] Steingrímur J. Sigfússon on the Öxarfjardarheidi heath. He’s from this district and was the first to walk this path called Steimgrímsstígur,” Hilmarsdóttir said. “He had heard about our journey and as we were were walking across the heath a car drove in our direction and stopped. It was Steingrímur asking if we were the great walkers. It was nice talking to Steingrímur,” Hilmarsdóttir said. The three women began their journey on Reykjanes peninsula in southwest Iceland and walked across the country’s interior to the northeast.
Posted 22 July 2010; 11:26:20 AM. Permalink
(Gabriel Zarate/Nunatsiaq News, 22 June 2010) -- Sometimes getting an education teaches you more than you expected. Robby Qammaniq graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology in September 2009, a three-year degree that took him eight to complete. Qammaniq once thought of studying biology as a way into medicine, but university was so difficult that he found a new reason to continue: to help other Inuit who want a university education. Now 30, he’s only one summer away now from earning a diploma in adult education. “Inuit are starting to get used to the education system and it’s still very difficult for young people,” he said. “I had a really hard time in university and I want to make it easier for them.” ... the specialized language of university-level science was challenging for him. “The words are very technical and they are so wordy,” he said. “I had to learn it from the books and it took me a while. I’m still struggling with writing lab reports.” Qammaniq said that he quickly realized the English vocabulary used by many students from the south was much wider than his and he realized one of the main reasons for it. “The Inuit are not prepared for university because they don’t read a lot,” he said. “Because in the south the students start reading at a very young age and they can read and read and sit still for a long time rather than doing something else.” That difference, Qammaniq explained, means Inuit in university often need a little extra help understanding what certain words mean. “To understand those contexts, you have to bring out some props and media instead of reading, reading all the time,” he said. ... Once he wraps up his teaching diploma this summer, Qammaniq has a one-year contact with Nunavut Sivuniksavut as an instructor trainee. “I really want to go back up north,” Qammaniq said. “I want to be among Inuit and I want to teach them because there’s so many people who have dropped out of high school and aren’t doing anything.
Posted 22 June 2010; 3:07:18 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
(Advocatus diaboli, 23 May 2010) -- Just found out about this: Keith Crowe: Jan. 30, 1927 — May 16, 2010. I first encountered Keith Crowe’s name through his wonderful little book: A History of the Orginal Peoples of Northern Canada. First published in 1974 to serve as a text book for high school and college students, then revised in 1991, it has yet to be surpassed. But many Inuit of a certain age remember him for a much better reason: he was one of those rare government officials who never failed to treat others with love and respect. I’ve already received several forwarded emails from those who can describe the essence of his personality far better than I can. I haven’t had time to get permission to quote them yet, so I’ll let them speak anonymously until I do: Taipsumani tamaani Aatuvaami takujariulaursimajara Tulugaq, 1967-mi. Inungnut tunnanarutimmarialuulaurtuq tamaani Aatuvaami, uvagut Inuktigut ungasiktualuutilluta angajuqqaaptinnut. Inungnik nagligusummarilaurtuq, nalunalaunngittuq. Kinguniqarniartuq inuusia. When we Inuit were sent down south by the Canadian Government in the 1960's, I first met Tulugaq in 1967 in Ottawa. Keith was always a “welcoming committee” for all Inuit. He made our life easier in those days, especially, when we were all so far away from our parents. It was pretty obvious to me that he loved Inuit very much. He spoke Inuktitut. It seemed he always had time for everybody. We Inuit lived down south, during the time of colonialism of government in Canada. Keith was always an advocate for Inuit and our cause. He worked on issues that matter to Inuit. He will be remembered fondly by all those who met him. ...
Posted 25 May 2010; 1:40:49 AM. Permalink
(CBC NEws, 7 May 2010) -- Bertha Allen, a prominent Gwich'in women's leader, died Friday. She was 76. Born in Old Crow, Yukon, Allen lived most of her life in the Mackenzie Delta region of the Northwest Territories. Last year, Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean awarded Allen the Northern Medal for her "leadership in support of equality for aboriginal and northern women." Allen was named to the Order of Canada in 2007. In the late 1970s, Allen helped found the Native Women's Association of the Northwest Territories and became its first president. She later served as president of the Native Women's Association of Canada. Allen also helped establish training centres for native women in Yellowknife and Inuvik, N.W.T., was once president of the advisory council for the N.W.T. Status of Women Council and encouraged women to get involved in politics. "It means the world to me to be an aboriginal in this day and age," Allen said in a June 2008 CBC Radio interview. "We have the freedom to travel our beautiful country and can go back and live on the land if we choose to, if we're city people. Our country is still free to travel anywhere, and we have the food, we still can go out and nourish our bodies. So we have lots to be thankful for. I do, anyway."
Posted 9 May 2010; 9:49:30 PM. Permalink
(Becky Bohrer/The Washington Post, 8 May 2010) -- SITKA, Alaska -- Alaskans on Saturday mourned the loss of former Gov. Walter J. Hickel and remembered him as a visionary and a maverick. Alaska Democrats, meeting for their convention in Sitka, had a moment of silence in honor of Hickel, who served as Interior secretary under President Richard Nixon until Hickel was dismissed for objecting to the treatment of Vietnam War protesters. A ripple of "Oh!" and "Oh, my God" rippled through the audience as word of his death, at age 90, was announced Saturday morning. Hickel, a two-time Alaska governor, died Friday of natural causes at an Anchorage assisted living facility, said his longtime assistant, Malcolm Roberts. Gov. Sean Parnell ordered state flags flown at half-staff in Hickel's honor. "He taught us to dream big and to stand up for Alaska," Parnell said. "Gov. Hickel will be remembered for many things — or his wit, for telling it like it is, and for always reminding us that our resources belong to Alaskans." Alaska's congressional delegation eulogized Hickel for his vision, courage and for putting Alaska's interests first. Ethan Berkowitz, a former state legislator and Democrat running for governor, recounted how, when he was being sworn in as a young assistant district attorney, a copy of the Bible couldn't be found — so a copy of Hickel's 1971 book, Who Owns America, was used instead. Hickel said "If it's good for Alaska, do it, and if it isn't, screw it," Berkowitz said. He said he considers Hickel a mentor. Hickel's political career started in the early 1950s as a crusader for Alaska statehood, both at home and in Washington. He also was involved in the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, which helped pave the way for the trans-Alaska oil pipeline. [See also, Sean Cockerham, "Wally Hickel, Aug. 18, 1919 - May 7, 2010," Anchorage Daily News, 9 May 2010.]
Posted 9 May 2010; 10:55:05 AM. 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
(BBC News, 22 April 2010) -- Thirty Russian Arctic Convoy veterans from Scotland will each be presented with a medal to mark the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II. The Consul General of the Russian Federation Sergey Krutikov said it was a sign of appreciation for their heroic deeds during the tough years of war. The veterans, who transported vital supplies to Russia, will be honoured at a ceremony in Edinburgh. Winston Churchill described the convoys as the most dangerous of the war. Mr Krutikov said: "It is a great honour for me to carry out the wishes of the President of the Russian Federation and the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Armed Forces and present these medals to the British Russian Convoy veterans. "The Russians, like the British, have the same warm feelings for their veterans. Today we are honouring those who fought our common enemy and did everything possible to achieve our Great Victory." Chairman of the Russian Arctic Convoy Club Scotland, Jock Dempster, who is from Dunbar, completed a 1944 convoy aboard an oil tanker to Murmansk. He said: "This event marks a very special day for us. "The long-standing bond of friendship which existed between the Russian people and the veterans during the war has become even stronger since. "The medal is much appreciated for adding formal recognition of the critical role we played in shipping vital supplies to Murmansk and Archangel. "The Russians have never forgotten the ultimate sacrifice made by the 2,800 seamen who never returned to our shores." [See also Claire Smith, "Arctic convoy heroes honoured by Russia," The Scotsman (24 April 2010). Pictures from the medals ceremony here.]
Posted 25 April 2010; 7:38:04 PM. Permalink
(Randy Boswell/Canwest News Service, 17 April 2010) -- A British adventurer has announced plans to lead a 700-kilometre rowboat expedition through Canada's Arctic islands to the North Magnetic Pole, a proposed voyage described as "one of the world's last great firsts" in polar exploration. Scottish sailor Jock Wishart, who led a record-setting, 74-day circumnavigation of the Earth in a powerboat in 1998, says he'll captain a six-person crew on the August 2011 journey through ice-choked waters between Resolute and the magnetic pole - a moving target currently north of Nunavut's Ellef Ringnes Island. Like the participants of other recent Arctic quests, the Row to the Pole adventurers will gather environmental information along the way to document the region's changing ice conditions. The team's target, the North Magnetic Pole, migrates according to fluctuations in the Earth's magnetic field. In recent years, it has been moving away from Canadian territory toward the central Arctic Ocean.
Posted 18 April 2010; 6:19:37 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 12 April 2010) -- Noted ethnographer, author and photographer Norman Hallendy has donated a trove of nearly 7,500 images of the Canadian Arctic to the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, the gallery announced on Monday. The 78-year-old Hallendy, who lives in the Ottawa area, captured the extensive collection of images over the past 50 years. It is the largest photographic gift ever made to the gallery in Kleinburg, Ont. "In terms of understanding the art and people of Kinngait [Cape Dorset], this is a defining moment for the McMichael Canadian Art Collection,” McMichael executive director and CEO Thomas Smart said in a statement. "It is the largest single donation of photographs, both in size and value, to come to this public institution. [Hallendy's 35-mm Kodachrome colour slides] brilliantly capture the essence of the people, the land, and the history of Kinngait." The images include Inuksuit figures, land and seascapes, icebergs, sacred sites and portraits of Arctic artists and people. Hallendy, a retired public servant who first travelled to the North while working for the Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources, returned many times over the years. His numerous accolades include being honoured with the gold medal from the Royal Canadian Geographical Society in 2001. During his many expeditions, Hallendy would observe, interact with and document traditional Inuit communities. He earned the trust and affection of many Inuit elders, who dubbed him Apirqsukti, "the inquisitive one," and granted him permission to see and photograph ancient and hallowed sites. This photographic gift "greatly enhances and supports our existing holdings of Inuit art, including the historic Cape Dorset archival collection on loan from the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative," Smart added, referring to the approximately 100,000-object Cape Dorset collection of drawings, prints and sculpture that has been at the McMichael for the past 20 years. Monday's donation marks Hallendy's most recent gift to the McMichael. Earlier donations include colour images from the Eastern Arctic, black-and-white negatives and photos of Kinngait artists, and Inuit drawings, prints and sculpture.
Posted 13 April 2010; 3:32:59 PM. 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
(Daron Letts/Northern News Services, 15 March 2010) -- INUVIK - The majestic wilderness of the Yukon will be celebrated in Inuvik beginning on March 20. That's when Northern Images gallery is exhibiting almost 50 artworks composed by two dozen artists who recently visited Ivvavik National Park in the Northern part of the territory. "The exhibit is a collaboration with Parks Canada to preserve the cultural heritage of the North," said gallery manager Maria Stella Patera. The artists, who come from around the North, across Canada and beyond, created the works as part of Artists in the Park, a Parks Canada program that has organized five excursions to the park since 2003.
Posted 15 March 2010; 3:33:58 PM. Permalink
(Alaska Newsreader/Anchorage Daily News, 1 March 2010) -- Some Russian scientists and indigenous peoples gave a knowing nod when
they heard of last fall's unusual haulout
of walrus on the shore of Northwest Alaska. The phenomenon
has been noted in the Russian Far East for the past decade, except the
haulouts are much larger. The
Arctic Sounder reports on a recent visit to Point Hope by
scientist Anatoly Kochnev and three members of a Russian village "polar
bear patrol." Kochnev said that as haulouts get bigger, walrus deaths have also increased because of walrus stampedes. In 2007 scientists counted more than 3,000 walrus corpses along the Chukchi coast on the Russian side and estimate the total walrus deaths to be close to 10,000. Almost all the fatalities were young animals, crushed in stampedes. Before 2000, Kochnev said, scientists never saw groups of dead walruses like that. A more immediate worry for the Russian villagers: The walrus haulouts are attracting polar bears, which themselves are being driven onto land because of melting polar ice. Kochnev said that groups of up to 300 polar bear will hang out around the walrus herds. When those haulouts are close to human habitation, the consequences can be tragic. ... A young girl was killed by a polar bear in Ryrkaypyi in 2006, following two deaths from polar bear attacks in the same town in 2003. The villagers have established polar bear patrols and are taking steps to protect walrus during haulouts and prevent stampedes, according to The Sounder.
Posted 8 March 2010; 2:08:21 PM. Permalink
(Gary Black/Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, 27 February 2010) -- FAIRBANKS - Marjorie Gemmill is putting Bush life on film.The 31-year-old amateur photographer, who was born in Fairbanks but has spent her whole life in Arctic Village, carries her camera in the diaper bag of her son, Charlie Gemmill, and uses it to capture scenes surrounding life in Arctic Village. Her shots range from her stepfather, Charlie Swaney, teaching teens subsistence skills to tribal gatherings to baptisms at the village’s church.“My dad, stepdad, uncles and great uncles are all pretty good hunters. We go out hunting and live a subsistence lifestyle. It’s our heritage,” she said. Marjorie is Neetsaii Gwich’in and has worked as a tribal administrator for the past couple of years. She also is a tribal council member. “People say the Gwich’in are a poor people, and they say why don’t we realize we need to open ANWR? But we don’t think like that,” she said. “We put the land and the animals first. We’re rich in our hearts and our traditional lifestyle. That’s why we live here.”
Posted 28 February 2010; 12:11:45 AM. Permalink
(Sermitsiaq, 26 February 2010) -- Greenland's first and only professor of Greenlandic is also the first honorary doctorate at Ilisimatusarfik. On Friday he was awarded the very first in the university's history. Honorary doctorates are awarded to people who have performed significant and extensive research at the international level and have done a great deal of research and research training at their university. "It is with great pleasure that Ilisimatusarfik awards honorary degree to the University's first rector, Professor Robert Petersen," said Rector Tine Pars while giving the award. Robert Petersen has,, through the years been a highly productive researcher in both anthropology and linguistics, with publications in English, Danish and Greenlandic. He enjoys considerable recognition internationally as a specialist not only in Greenlandic conditions, but also in the Inuit in general. "His importance in Greenland as founder of the University of Greenland, as researcher, teacher and facilitator can not be overstated," says the technical committee behind the nomination. The Committee consists of Professor Louis-Jacques Dorais of Université Laval in Quebec in Canada, Associate Professor Ole Marquardt, Ilisimatusarfik and Associate Professor Birgitte Jacobsen, Ilisimatusarfik. The medal, commissioned by Ilisimatusarfik, that honours the degree is made of 14 carat Greenlandic gold and is crafted by Palle Møller from Jewelry Workshop.
Posted 26 February 2010; 7:42:32 PM. Permalink
(EMC News, 25 February 2010) -- Brenda Helen Carter, of Merrickville, died on Feb. 18, after a long illness with a brain tumour. Carter is recognized in Canada and abroad as a wildlife and landscape artist, she traveled and painted for over 40 years. Often challenged by powerful elements and her subject matter (including lions, musk ox and polar bears), her adventure-packed expeditions to the Canadian Arctic resulted in a rich legacy of work. She painted on location throughout the world: the Canadian Arctic, the Antarctic, Africa, Australia, the U.K., Ireland, the Galapagos Islands, Central America, and South America. The first woman to receive both the Duck's Unlimited Stamp Award as well as the Wildlife Habitat Canada Art Award, Carter conducted extensive research in the field. Much of her painting was done on location in acrylics and watercolours. Later in her career, influenced by European artists, her painting was in an impressionistic plein air style. Her work was exhibited and commissioned in North America and abroad by the Canadian and National Geographical Societies, Chimo Hotels, Remington Art Museum, Canadian Museum of Nature, and Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. For many years, she exhibited at her own gallery in Merrickville, Ontario, and wrote a monthly bird column for local newspapers. Born in Calgary (January 22, 1943) and raised in the Ottawa Valley, Carter studied at the Hilton Leach School of Art and the Ringling School of Art in Florida. In 1964 she was employed by the Canadian Museum of Nature and the Canadian Wildlife Service, her work deepened her understanding of biology, animal behaviour and anatomy. She then worked for several years as an assistant to T. H. Manning, tagging polar bears for the Canadian Government on a circumpolar project involving Canada, the US, Scandinavia and Russia. The Canadian Government sponsored a painting summer for her to travel throughout the High Arctic, under the same format as used by A.Y. Jackson. She continued her high arctic work by accompanying other scientists in research camps, learning valuable observation techniques, and gaining the opportunity to paint in otherwise inaccessible areas. Brenda Carter was an accomplished horsewoman and had her airplane pilot's license.
Posted 26 February 2010; 4:25:16 PM. Permalink
(Far Out/VBS.TV, 17 February 2010) -- In 1980, Jimmy Carter established the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in the Alaskan Interior, cutting off 19 million acres of prime boreal wilderness from the mitts of fur trappers, oil tycoons, and would-be lodge owners alike. Only six families of white settlers were grandfathered in and allowed to keep cabins in the refuge—of them, only one still stays there year-round living off the land. His name is Heimo Korth, and he is basically the Omega Man of America’s Final Frontier. Raised in suburban Wisconsin, Heimo set off in his teens to the Alaskan Bush to pursue the Davy Crockett lifestyle in more or less the only place it was still possible. Amid numerous setbacks and misadventures, Heimo gradually learned how to master his terrain, provide for his Eskimo wife, and rear children in one of the most inhospitable environments in North America. In this premiere edition of Far Out, we take a bush plane to the middle of nowhere, Alaska, to catch up with Heimo and his wife, Edna—now reaching their golden years. Over the course of our ten-day stay, the Korths show us everything you need to know about fur-trapping, caribou-hunting, caribou-eating, river-crossing, boredom-staving, bear-avoidance, and bear-defense to live happily over 100 miles from the nearest neighbors. Vegans, you have been warned.
Posted 24 February 2010; 3:12:15 PM. Permalink
(David James/Fairbanks News-Miner, 7 February 2010) -- FAIRBANKS - In 1964 a young Inupiat graduate student at UAF wrote a paper that explored legal documents pertaining to Alaska’s purchase and eventual establishment as a state. In these writings he had found language implying that the then-new state’s Native population held legal claim on a considerable amount of territory. Because the state was in the process of choosing which lands it would request for the 104 million acres it was allotted by the statehood bill, the young man knew he had little time to waste. He quickly returned to his home village of Kotzebue and began telling his family and friends to file claims of ownership with the federal government or risk losing forever the lands their forefathers had occupied for thousands of years. Had William L. Iggiagruk Hensley never done anything else, his place in Alaskan history would be secure, because with this action he set off the chain of events that led, just five years later, to passage by congress of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA), the bill that guaranteed permanent title of vast swaths of Alaska to its original inhabitants. ... Hensley would probably blush at being told this, but he is one of the towering figures in post-statehood Alaska. Were it not for his ceaseless efforts, ours would be a far different — and unquestionably far less egalitarian — state. So he’s earned some bragging rights. Hensley isn’t one to brag, but he has chosen to share his story in Fifty Miles from Tomorrow, an engagingly written account of his life from his childhood in a sod hut 10 miles from Kotzebue all the way to the highest halls of power in Washington, D.C. It’s not a rags-to-riches story, however. Rather, it’s the tale of how growing up on the land, immersed in a distinctive culture, gave him the strength and the values to fight for and save what matters the most.
Posted 7 February 2010; 5:15:35 PM. Permalink
(Robert Everett-Green/Globe and Mail, 6 February 2010) -- “I can’t write by a fireplace,” says Inuit singer Elisapie Isaac. “I need a window. I need to feel connected to something, to see the sky or whatever. I think it’s because I’m from this small town where you can see far. No matter what building I’m in, my inspiration is the window.” Isaac spent almost three years sitting by her window, so to speak, and the songs she found there became the substance of her recent solo recording debut, There Will Be Stars. After several years as the singing half of the Quebec electro-folk duo Taima, the 32-year-old performer and filmmaker (who began a short Canadian tour on Feb. 4 at Toronto’s Drake Hotel) has mapped out her own musical landscape. “I just wanted it to be sweet and warm, I wanted it to breathe,” she says of the album, which was produced by Éloi Painchaud. She’s talking mainly about the shape-shifting sounds on the record. The songs, by contrast, are often about hard, uncomfortable situations: the ragged end of a love affair; the intensity of a deep winter spent in a small Northern settlement (Salluit, in Nunavik); the dislocation many Inuit feel whether they stay in the North or head south, as Isaac did 10 years ago. “Tears and emotions, that’s what motivates me,” she says. ... “There are so many energies, I sometimes wonder, where do I go?” she says. “I was named after four different women. I used to think that was such a cool thing. But when you’re named after four different women, you sort of become those different woman. I thought it was such a cool thing, but it kind of messed me up.” A fine mess, and a fine album too.
Posted 7 February 2010; 1:10:32 AM. Permalink
(Don Russell, Joe Sixpack/Philadelphia Daily News, 5 February 2010) -- IN 1852, the British government dispatched Royal Navy Cmdr. Edward Belcher and a fleet of five ships to the Canadian Arctic to search for the lost expedition of Sir John Franklin. They came up empty, and four of Belcher's ships — including the H.M.S. Resolute — were abandoned in the ice. Years later, the Resolute was discovered adrift, salvaged, returned to Britain and disassembled. Its timbers were used to craft a pair of matching desks for the queen of England and the president of the United States. If the story sounds familiar, that's because you may have seen it in the Nicolas Cage movie National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets. What you almost certainly have never heard, however, is the story of the ship's beer. A Bethlehem, Pa., homebrewer with a thirst for history has unearthed that story and will attempt to re-create the beer this summer during his own Arctic expedition. ... The beer was Allsopp's Arctic Ale, a bottled barleywine brewed in Burton, England. Made with just under 12 percent alcohol so as to survive the frigid temperatures of the north, it was described by Belcher as "a valuable antiscorbutic" for its ability to fight scurvy. ... Samuel Allsopp & Sons continued to brew the beer into the 20th century, but eventually the bottles dwindled and finally disappeared. ... Samuel Allsopp & Sons continued to brew the beer into the 20th century, but eventually the bottles dwindled and finally disappeared.
Posted 6 February 2010; 10:44:22 AM. Permalink
(Vivian Belik/Yukon News, 3 February 2010) -- Gwich’in elder Edith Josie, the voice of Old Crow, died Sunday of natural causes at the age of 88. The Whitehorse Star journalist was known around the world for the colourful reports she gave from her isolated, fly-in community. Josie’s column, Here Are the News, ran for more than 40 years giving Outsiders a look into the day-to-day happenings of the people of Old Crow. “She had her own unique style of telling stories to people and it really carried through to others,” said her son, William Josie. Josie wrote exactly the way that she spoke — in broken English with Gwich’in syntax — flavouring her columns with local expressions and a quirky sense of humour. In one of her first articles she describes the unsuccessful “ratting” (muskrat trapping) in Old Crow Flats that year. “John Joe Kay and his family and Dick Nukon and family came into town from their ratting camp,” she wrote in the spring of 1963. “They reported no rats around there but they say too many mosquito. Too bad no prize on mosquito.” ... Josie managed to put the tiny northern community of Old Crow on the map. “People in the South didn’t know there was a community of Old Crow until my mother started writing,” said Josie’s daughter, Jane Montgomery. ... Josie’s column was syndicated in the Toronto Telegram and the Fairbanks News-Miner and was plucked by other newspapers looking to run her column for free. “Sometimes she would get phone calls from people in the South thinking that she lived in an igloo,” said Montgomery. “And my mother would just laugh.” Eventually her work was translated into German, Italian, Spanish and Finnish, prompting fan mail from all corners of the globe. And then, the awards started to roll in. ... Josie had a huge impact on her community. And she knew it. “I write my big news. That’s how all of the people know where is Old Crow. Before the news go out nobody know where is Old Crow,” she wrote in one of her columns. “Just when I pass away, that’s the time my news will cut off.”
Posted 3 February 2010; 7:42:19 PM. Permalink
(Mark Iype and Allison Cross/National Post, 25 January 2010) -- A hunter who was stranded on an Arctic ice floe for nearly four days is finally safe after a military rescue team plucked him off the ice yesterday afternoon. A military rescue team had been trying for days to reach David Idlout, trapped since Friday on a floe in the Northwest Passage near one of Canada's most northern communities. The team had been repeatedly hindered by bad weather. They were finally able to reach Mr. Idlout with a military helicopter at about 3 p.m. local time, said Capt. Pierre Bolduc, from the search-and-rescue co-ordination centre in Trenton, Ont. "He was cold, tired but otherwise in good health," said Capt. Bolduc, adding that Mr. Idlout didn't need any medical treatment. Mr. Idlout was flown to the airport in his nearby hometown of Resolute, Nunavut, and his family was there to greet him, Capt. Bolduc said.
Posted 26 January 2010; 12:06:49 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 24 January 2010) -- The rescue of a hunter stranded on a drifting ice floe in the Northwest Passage is only hours away, his wife said Sunday. A Canadian Forces helicopter from Nova Scotia is expected to lift David Idlout to safety from his icy raft in the darkness south of Resolute, Nunavut, early Monday, Tracy Kalluk said. Blizzard-like conditions had delayed the helicopter's journey, but Kalluk reiterated forecast reports that the weather was improving. Idlout, 39, left Friday on a seal hunt and was hunting at the edge of the sea ice, about 15 kilometres from Resolute, Nunavut, when a large chunk of ice broke free and he drifted out to sea. The experienced hunter had a satellite phone with him and called his wife, Tracy. She called her father who called the coast guard. Idlout built himself an ice shelter and has spent two nights on the ice. Idlout's wife, who has been talking to him every two hours said, her husband is well-versed in cold weather survival. Early attempts at a rescue were thwarted when a helicopter sent to Resolute to pluck the man off the ice was unable to take off due to mechanical problems. Rescuers have since dropped food, water, a tent, fuel and a locator beacon to him — but they haven't been able to get any closer to pick him up because of strong winds, snow and ice pellets in the area. Resolute remains under a blizzard warning. There's poor visibility and winds of 50 km/h, gusting to 80 km/h. But a gradual improvement in the weather was expected Sunday evening.
Posted 24 January 2010; 9:54:36 PM. Permalink
RESOLUTE, Nunavut - An Inuit hunter was preparing for his second night on a drifting ice floe in the Northwest Passage Saturday as air rescue crews attempted to drop him more supplies. "That's basically what we're going to do, is drop more kit to him," said Sgt. Rob Wilson from the search and rescue centre in Trenton, Ont. The man was hunting near the edge of the sea ice about 15 kilometres from Resolute, Nunavut, when a large chunk broke free and began drifting out to sea, carrying him along. The hunter, who is carrying a satellite phone, was able to contact his wife. He was also carrying a light source, which enabled a Hercules airplane to find him in the Arctic dark at about 10:30 p.m. Friday. The Hercules dropped supplies including food, water, a tent, extra clothing, fuel for his stove and a locator beacon. However, a helicopter sent to Resolute to pluck the man off the ice has been unable to take off due to mechanical problems, Wilson said. A second supply-laden Hercules was scheduled to drop him more equipment later Saturday. The man, who Wilson described as an experienced hunter, is said to be in good condition and remains in contact with his wife. He built himself an improvised snow shelter and was preparing to settle in for the night. "He is fine," said Wilson. Meanwhile, the weather is deteriorating in the area, with snow, high winds and frigid temperatures anticipated. His icy raft, however, is expected to remain stable. "It is a very large floe," Wilson said. Wilson said the rescue is likely to proceed Sunday. "We don't foresee an issue," he said.
Posted 24 January 2010; 10:17:34 AM. Permalink
(Chris Windeyer/Nunatsiaq News, 20 January 2010) -- IGLOOLIK — In the corner of a quiet government office building, Leah Otak spends her work days in front of a computer and a cassette deck, poring over hundreds of hours of recorded interviews dating back as far as 1986. The interviews contain a massive trove of quickly-disappearing information: the traditional knowledge of elders from the Igloolik area covering everything from shamanism and kinship to traditional navigation methods and hunting and sewing techniques. “It’s not boring,” Otak says. “I think I have the best job in Nunavut.” Otak, manager of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangiit and oral history research at the Igloolik Research Centre, and assistant William Qamukaq are organizing the interviews by subject, with the long-term goal of getting the information into books and learning materials. The process is vital to preserve traditional knowledge that’s threatened by everything from social ills and modern — mostly English — media to the universal tendency of young people to shun advice from their parents and elders. And while the advent of southern-style education brought new kinds of learning to Nunavut, it also disrupted traditional ways of passing along knowledge. “It was the elders who had the desire to pass on the knowledge that they noticed is not being carried on,” Otak says. “When kids started going to school they didn’t spend time with their parents anymore, didn’t go hunting anymore, so all of the knowledge was being lost.” The knowledge is also subject to the ravages of time itself. Of the 31 elders who contributed to the project, only two are still alive and are now in their 70s and 80s, Otak says. But the wisdom is preserved on tape and in the process of being digitized, a process that should be finished this spring. It’s also a vital source of Inuktitut vocabulary, preserving words and ideas that have faded from regular use. Plans call for a dictionary, and Otak hopes to see more classroom materials, with a simplified vocabulary for younger students and a more traditional form of Inuktitut for high school. “I don’t think we’ll ever speak this language again, because we’re already speaking a translated version of English, rather than a real Inuktitut language,” Otak says.
Posted 22 January 2010; 10:37:41 PM. Permalink
(INAC press release, 15 January 2010) -- Ottawa, Ontario - The Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, today announced the appointment of Ms. Nellie T. Kusugak to the position of Deputy Commissioner of Nunavut. “Ms. Kusugak's years of teaching experience in Nunavut demonstrate her commitment to the future of the territory,” said Minister Strahl. “As Deputy Commissioner she is well placed to further this commitment and work towards a brighter future for all Nunavummiut.” Ms. Kusugak is a professional bilingual teacher with an extensive background in traditional and cultural education, teaching English as a second language and working with community elders. The Commissioner of Nunavut acts in accordance with any written instructions from the Governor in Council or the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. The Deputy Commissioner is called upon to act if the Commissioner is unable to carry out his or her duties. The position was created by the Nunavut Act and the appointment is made by Order-in-Council.
Posted 15 January 2010; 1:36:44 PM. Permalink
(Editor's Choice, CBC podcast, 8 January 2010) -- Murray Angus is one of the founders of The Nunavut Sivuniksavut Program, developed to teach young Inuit about land claims. We'll hear his reaction to being named to the Order of Canada.
(David Holthouse/Alaska Dispatch, 8 January 2010) -- Vester Eyland, a small island off the west coast of Greenland, near the mouth of Disko Bay, has long been known for producing some of the best sea kayakers in the world. "The island draws big waves, so it's not easy to paddle and hunt, compared to other places off the coast of the main country, where the water is calm and flat," says famed sea kayaker Maligiaq Johnsen Padilla (pronounced muh-LIG-ee-ahk YOON-sen pa-DEE-uh), 27, whose mother's ancestors are from Vester Eyland. Padilla grew up in Sisimiut, a town on the edge of the Arctic Circle, just south of Disko Bay. He learned to subsistence hunt and sea kayak from his Vester Eyland relatives, for whom knowing how to right, or "roll" a capsized kayak is more survival skill than sport. They hunt in seas where the wind and waves batter kayaks like unruly children slapping at bathtub toys. Padilla's great-grandfather was killed near Vester Eyland in 1929 when a harpooned seal yanked his kayak with enough force in rough water to snap his spine. Though he still hunts for seals, fish and Auks (diving birds related to sea puffins), Padilla is better known outside the Sisimiut area for his prowess in world-class sea kayaking competitions. He's the only person in history to win the Greenland National Kayaking Championships four times, beginning in 1998 at the age of 16, when he became the youngest Greenland kayak champion ever. Last month, Padilla traveled to Alaska to participate in Generation I, a touring series of workshops, demonstrations and community discussions in Northwest Alaska that took place Dec. 28 through Jan. 8 in Kotzebue, Kiana and Selawik. (Here's a slideshow from the event.) Generation I — a play on "I" representing both personal identity and Inuit culture — was inspired by a recent "Hope and Resilience in Suicide Prevention" seminar, in Nuuk, Greenland, that was organized and funded by the Inuit Circumpolar Conference [now Council] in conjunction with the government of Greenland. Suicides among Inuit, and especially Inuit youth, in both Alaska and Greenland are tragically high. But in Greenland, they're decreasing. The "Hope and Resilience" seminar attributed the positive shift in large part to three factors: affirming the self-worth of Inuit teenagers, promoting a deeper sense of Inupiat cultural identity, and putting youths in contact with positive role models. [See the YouTube video]
Posted 10 January 2010; 11:19:40 AM. Permalink
(John Geiger/Globe and Mail, 1 January 2010) -- Sheila Watt-Cloutier was involved in educational reform before entering active politics about 15 years ago. In 2002, she was voted international chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, an international organization representing the interests of Inuit in Canada, Alaska, Russia and Greenland. She has now left active politics, but continues her crusade. Sheila Watt-Cloutier's case that the fight against climate change is fundamentally a human-rights issue for the Inuit has changed the debate irreversibly. It is no longer solely about the prognostications of paleoclimatologists, mathematical modelling and abstract, impersonal scientific consensus. Nor is it about the antics and exhortations of politicians and environmental activists. Ms. Watt-Cloutier has succeeded in putting a human face on climate change. If there is a ground zero for climate change, it is surely the Arctic. Multi-year ice is disappearing, glaciers that once calved at the sea have receded, replaced in summer by cascading melt-water streams. The permafrost is thawing. The change is happening at an astonishing pace. It is less the perilous region of yore than a region in peril. Little wonder, then, that of all the species on earth it is the polar bear, the great floe-edge hunter, that has become the poster animal for climate change. In fact, all life in the Arctic will be affected in some way, not least the people who live there, the Inuit. Ms. Watt-Cloutier's fight is a fight, then, for a way of life that has for centuries survived against the odds on the margins of the habitable world.
Posted 1 January 2010; 11:37:14 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 29 December 2009) -- Two of the North's most celebrated sculptors — Kiawak Ashoona of Cape Dorset and Paul Malliki of Repulse Bay — will split the Nunavut Commissioner's Art Award. The $10,000 award is given to an artist who has made a significant contribution to the arts in Nunavut. Ashoona is the fourth son of graphic artist Pitseolak Ashoona and Inuit leader Ashoona, who first settled in Cape Dorset. One of the last survivors of the first generation of Inuit artists, he has been carving since the 1950s. His depictions of fantastic creatures have been shown throughout the world. Among his works are Sedna, which was reproduced on a 1980 postage stamp, Hunter Spirit of my Grandfather, which premiered at the United Nations General Assembly in New York in 1989 and Bird Creature, part of the National Gallery of Canada's Inuit art collection. He is a member of the Order of Canada and has won the Molson Award as well as other art awards for his work. Malliki is the most established and widely exhibited of the Repulse Bay artists and one of few local sculptors to make his living entirely from his art. He teaches other sculptors through Arctic College and is known for bringing his traditional skills as a hunter to the detail in his animal sculptures. It's the third year for the art prize, handed out by commissioner Ann Hanson.
Posted 29 December 2009; 12:46:41 PM. Permalink
(Linda Matchan/Christian Science Monitor, 22 December 2009) -- Four years ago, acrobat Guillaume Saladin had an enviable job as a circus performer. He was a member of the acclaimed Cirque Éloize, an innovative Montreal-based troupe combining circus arts with music, dance, and theater. Specializing in gravity-defying hand-to-hand routines – a cross between handstands and dance – Mr. Saladin toured the world, visiting Europe, China, and the Middle East. But when it was time to renew his circus contract, Saladin found himself wavering. The one place he couldn’t get out of his mind was a remote Inuit community called Igloolik, 200 miles above the Arctic Circle in Canada. ... But now he was at a crossroads. “Do I tour the world with the same show,” he thought, “or [go] to Igloolik?” He chose Igloolik, arriving on Halloween 2005 with his suitcases and juggling pins. He knew immediately he’d made the right choice. “Everyone was costumed and masked and playing around ... craziness everywhere around town,” says Saladin, whose accented English reveals his French Canadian heritage. “Very similar to circus.” Then he turned his attention to Artcirq, the Arctic circus he’d helped launch seven years earlier. Artcirq is a unique artistic hybrid, a collective of young performers who blend techniques of modern circus with elements of Inuit culture, such as throat singing, music, drum dancing, and juggling. In a short time it’s gone from amateurs balancing shakily on homemade teeterboards to proficient jugglers and acrobats who balance atop each other’s shoulders, perform aggressive back flips, and somersault while leaping through hoops. ... The circus is credited with bringing hope and pride to many dispirited young people. “My life got brighter when I joined the circus because I had stuff to do,” says Reena Qulittalik, an Igloolik high school student. “Before that, I didn’t know what to do.”
Posted 23 December 2009; 11:49:48 AM. Permalink
(Rick Steele/Tech@Work, Yukon News, 11 December 2009) -- Earlier this week, I spent an hour or so tipping some cold ones with two computer techies, and sharing reminiscences about the early days of internet in the Yukon. It was 15 years ago this month that the first internet connection in the territory sparked to life—a 56 Kbps link to BCNet in Vancouver, with a bank of 20 14.4 Kbps dial up modems on line for testing purposes. In those days, my two drinking companions were still fresh, sparkly eyed little Unix munchkins, in their late teens and early 20s. Now in their mid-30s, they are well-heeled, professionally comfortable, and more or less domesticated. They have inherited and fulfilled the future opened to them by that feeble, unstable little connection made in December, 1994. The difference between them and me is that they saw that future coming; and I, though I was an active player in making it come, did not. I thought I was doing a short-term volunteer job, so that the schools and Yukon College and some government departments could get some of this internet stuff. Then I would go back to my day job as a writer and desk top publisher—an occupation I thoroughly enjoyed, even as it slowly starved me to death.
Posted 19 December 2009; 10:35:38 PM. Permalink
(Paul Watson/The Toronto Star, 30 November 2009)** -- IQALUIT - A child resisted. The white people running things on the journey to exile expected quiet submission from the Inuit and usually got it. There were no translators, so there was no use complaining. That wasn't how Inuit preferred to do things, anyway. When they were herded into a damp, dimly lit hold and told to sleep on the steel floor, they made the best of the accommodations. When medical staff told exile families to strip down in groups for their health exams, they suffered the humiliation in silence. They did as they were told. But calling out "Martha E9-1900," the number on a 5-year-old girl's government-issued ID tag, was like cocking a loaded pistol. "If they had to give needles to us children, I was always the last one," Martha Flaherty remembers. "Five men had to hold me by each arm. And I've been fighting ever since."
Posted 14 December 2009; 8:52:56 PM. Permalink
(Bill Blakemore/ABC News, 11 December 2009) -- "You can think you're buddies with a walrus one minute and the next minute it's trying to kill you," Arctic photographer Paul Nicklen said. "I would rather get in the water with a great white shark, than a walrus." Then he went on to tell us how to do it—or, at least, how he does it. "I will sometimes spend 24, 48, 72 hours sitting on an ice pan with a group of walruses," he told ABC News. "I will get to know these walruses to the point they get so relaxed with me that I can rest my head against a walrus and fall asleep with them on the ice. Then one of them slips into the water, and it won't feel threatened by me. I can slip into the water with it and get a couple of shots." Now 41, Nicklen has lived in the high Arctic since he was 4 when his parents moved to Baffin Island. His playmates were Inuit kids. He went on hunting parties with the elders whenever he could. "The snow and ice were my sandbox," he said. His images are a stunning and unique combination of abstract beauty and the raw wild, other-worldly, in need of nothing human. Beauty, science and a dangerously warming world have all become one in the life and work of Nicklen, a biologist-turned photographer. "Where I grew up, we had no telephone, no radio, no television. We had no distractions." Other than the limitless Arctic nature. Nicklen is now one of National Geographic's premier photographers.
Posted 11 December 2009; 11:27:51 PM. Permalink
(Miki Meek/Blogs.New York Times, 7 December 2009) -- He’s trekked through glacial storms, fallen through rifts and awakened on ice that’s drifted out to sea. But Ragnar Axelsson just keeps coming back. For 25 years, he has been traveling to small Inuit villages in Greenland’s most remote regions, documenting hunting traditions that are 4,000 years old. Mr. Axelsson, 51, lives in Reykjavik. He has been a staff
photographer at the newspaper Morgunbladid since 1976. He will be
publishing “The Last Days of the Arctic,” about the effects of climate change on Greenland’s Inuit, in November 2010. A documentary about Mr. Axelsson’s life and overall work will be released at the same time. Mr. Axelsson has also documented vanishing lifestyles in the Faroe Islands and Iceland. These have been published, along with some of his Greenland work, in the stunning book “Faces of the North.” [See also, RAX Gallery at rax.is.]
Posted 7 December 2009; 2:54:33 PM. Permalink
(Dan Bross/KUAC Fairbanks via APRN, 2 December 2009) -- The Alaska native community has lost a leader in the interior. Mitch
Demientieff Nenana died suddenly Tuesday of a heart attack. He was 57.
Demientieff was a long-time Athabascan leader from a prominent Nenana
family. His sister Cathy Morgan says Mitch’s leadership role began
early when he served the first of 2 terms as president of the Tanana
Chiefs Conference. [mp3]
(John Baglow/The National Post, 4 December 2009) -- A little bird tells me that a worthy replacement may have been found for Michaëlle Jean, Governor-General of Canada, now in her last year of office. According to an influential Conservative insider, Mary Simon, currently the President of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, would be an "ideal choice." Simon was ambassador for Circumpolar Affairs at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, 1994-2003, and also served as Canadian ambassador to Denmark, 1999-2001. She sat on the Joint Public Advisory Committee of NAFTA's Commission on Environmental Cooperation (1997-2000), and chaired the Commission from 1997-98. She was the Chancellor of Trent University from 1995 to 1999. Simon has played many other roles in her career, including serving on the Nunavut Implementation Commission. She has been showered with honours—everything from the Order of Canada to the Gold Medal of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. And throughout her many years of public service, she has been a powerful voice for Aboriginal rights in Canada and elsewhere. And she blogs! An ideal choice indeed.
Posted 5 December 2009; 12:16:15 PM. Permalink
(CP, 3 December 2009) -- WINNIPEG - Sometime in late February 1950, a Canadian photographer pulled a camera out of his parka and into the stabbing Arctic cold, focused as best he could in the flickering lamplight inside an igloo, and pressed the shutter. The resulting image - an Inuit mother, haggard from hunger and dressed in shabby caribou skins, fiercely pressing her nose and lips to those of her youngest child—has since become iconic. But the story behind Richard Harrington's memorable print, and the many others he made around the same time, is less well known. And that's what a show now on at the Winnipeg Art Gallery hopes to remedy. "It's certainly long overdue," said Darlene Wight, one of two curators behind the exhibit, which runs until March. Harrington made six trips to the Arctic between 1948 and 1953. He travelled by dogsled and often lived with the Inuit, who still largely depended on the land. It was a life that informed their traditional culture but depended on the availability of caribou. Harrington's 1950 trip came in a year the caribou didn't. The result was famine. As southern Canadians were welcoming a prosperous decade of suburbs and big-finned cars, many of their northern fellow citizens were starving to death. On Feb. 8, a few days before he snapped his most famous picture, Harrington wrote in his journal: "Came upon the tiniest igloo yet. Outside lay a single, mangy dog, motionless, starving ... Inside, a small woman in clumsy clothes, large hood, with baby. "She sat in darkness, without heat. She speaks to me. I believe she said they were starving. "We left some tea, matches, kerosene, biscuits. And went on." More than once, Harrington photographed someone who would be dead the next day. And when he returned south, it was those images that finally alerted the rest of Canada to what was going on in its Arctic backyard.
Posted 4 December 2009; 5:20:41 PM. Permalink
(Arctic Institute of North America press release, 25 November 2009) -- Joseph-Elzéar Bernier, who claimed the entire Arctic Archipelago for Canada 100 years ago, would never have imagined that his claim would remain the foundation of Canada's diplomatic and possibly legal case for Arctic sovereignty in 2009. To mark the centennial of the claim made on July 1, 1909, Marjolaine Saint-Pierre's fine, well-researched biography, Joseph-Elzear Bernier: Champion of Canadian Arctic Sovereignty (Baraka Books, 2009, $75 hardcover, $39.95 paper), has been translated by William Barr and published in English by Baraka Books in collaboration with the Arctic Institute of North America, University of Calgary. With Arctic waters being ever more navigable, a burning issue from the early 20th century is back in the headlines early in the 21st. That is why the somewhat forgotten hero, ship-captain and explorer, Joseph-Elzéar Bernier, is so relevant today. Canada's greatest navigator dreamed of conquering the North Pole, but his crowning achievement was no less than to establish Canada's Arctic boundaries. Without Bernier, the geopolitical configuration of the North might be quite different today.
Posted 2 December 2009; 2:22:24 PM. Permalink
(Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation press release, 1 December 2009) -- Toronto, Arviat, New York - Nancy Karetak-Lindell is named Director of the Arctic Voices Fellowships, a new and innovative program created by the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation. The program aims to strengthen the participation of northerners in shaping policies governing the Canadian Arctic. Her appointment was announced today by Thomas S. Axworthy, President and CEO of the Gordon Foundation. ... The Fellowships will provide financial, educational, mentoring, and networking support to challenge and encourage Canadians from the north, ages 25-35, to become engaged in shaping public policy. The program provides funding for 12 northern participants to give them the opportunity to research and develop public policy ideas at a time of great change in the North. Each participant will be awarded $25,000 spanning 2 years to help them engage in projects and to learn how to develop policies that reflect their knowledge of northern culture and values. The search for candidates begins in the Spring 2010. The J.M. Kaplan Fund, a family foundation based in New York, is helping fund this initiative.
Posted 1 December 2009; 11:04:45 AM. Permalink
(Kyle Hopkins/Anchorage Daily News, 29 November 2009) -- Jamaican dog musher Newton Marshall arrived in Alaska on Sunday to begin a kind of three-month Iditarod boot camp with reigning champ Lance Mackey. Mackey, who plans to lend Marshall his lead dog from last year's winning team, is a blunt-talking cancer survivor who's won the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race three years in a row. Marshall took up the sport on a Caribbean island where it never snows. Singer Jimmy Buffett is his main sponsor. In other words, Hollywood might as well start casting the movie now. After training with three-time Yukon Quest champion Hans Gatt last year, Marshall placed 13th of 29 mushers in the 1,000-mile race from Whitehorse to Fairbanks. Now it's Mackey's turn as mentor, and his family spent three months building a cabin next to their Fairbanks home, where Marshall will live and train until the Iditarod in March. "He's going to be doing everything that we do," said Mackey, who is also a four-time Yukon Quest champion. "From cleaning dog crap to cutting meat. Prepping for the races. Obviously the training part of it. Everything that it takes to make this household run, he's going to be involved in," Mackey said.
Posted 30 November 2009; 1:10:57 AM. Permalink
(Nunatsiaq News, 26 November 2009) -- Thomasie Alikatuktuk, who served as president of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association between September 2001 and October 2009, died Nov. 24 at the Ottawa Civic Hospital after an lengthy illness. He was 56. Alikatuktuk, orginally from Pangnirtung, is well-known for his art work and the stability that he brought to the QIA during the eight years he served in the organization’s top job. He announced his resignation as QIA president Oct. 22, during the organization’s recent board meeting in Iqaluit, citing poor health. QIA will hold an election Dec. 14 among all eligible beneficiaries in the Qikiqtani region to elect a president to serve the two years that remain in Alikatuktuk’s term. The candidates are Okalik Eegeesiak of Iqaluit, Zacharias Kunuk of Igloolik, Franco Buscemi of Iqaluit, Joe Sageatok of Iqaluit, Hezekiah Oshutapik of Pangnirtung, and Sam Omik Sr. of Pond Inlet. A date for Alikatuktuk’s funeral has yet to be set.
Posted 28 November 2009; 11:18:14 AM. Permalink