(Felicity Barringer/New York Times, 6 March 2013) -- At a time when large dams are being taken down, not put up, the state of Alaska is proposing to construct one of the tallest and most expensive hydroelectric dams ever built in North America. The Alaska Energy Authority is planning to build a 735-foot, $5.2 billion structure on the Susitna River in a largely empty south-central part of the state, which is watered by runoff from the arc of the Alaska Range. The dam, designed to generate up to 600 megawatts of electricity, would create a new power supply for more than two-thirds of the state’s population. But in Alaska, where natural energy resources and wildlife are both foundations of the economy, the proposed dam presents twin conundrums. One is economic: which is better, creating a reliable source of hydroelectricity and weaning some of the state off natural gas, or building a spur off a proposed pipeline to bring gas from the North Slope to the populated region from Fairbanks to the Kenai Peninsula? Or both? The other is environmental: what serves the environment best, replacing natural gas-fired electricity with hydroelectricity, which is free of greenhouse gas emissions, or keeping the Susitna watershed untrammeled and avoiding the risks involved in changing the dynamics of a major salmon stream? ...
Posted 10 March 2013; 8:56:17 PM. Permalink
(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
(Trude Pettersen/Barents Observer, 18 February 2013 ) -- The Norwegian Government last week decided to establish a new, large university in Norway, the University of Tromsø – Norway's Arctic University. “Together we can develop higher education and research within Norway’s most important target area,” the rectors of the two institutions Jarle Aarbakke and Sveinung Eikeland say in a joint statement. “The name clearly shows the Government’s emphasis on the university as a central tool to ensure the nation’s interests in the north,” the University of Tromsø’s web site reads. Both the establishments are the world’s northernmost in their category. The University of Tromsø was established in 1968 and is the largest research and educational institution in northern Norway. The main focus of the University's activities is on the Auroral light research, space science, fishery science, biotechnology, linguistics, multicultural societies, Saami culture, telemedicine, epidemiology and a wide spectrum of Arctic research projects. The close vicinity of the Norwegian Polar Institute, the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research and the Polar Environmental Centre gives Tromsø added weight and importance as an international center for Arctic research. Finnmark University College was established in 1994 and has with three campuses in Alta, Hammerfest and Kirkenes. Minister of Education and Research Kristin Halvorsen says the name of the new university underlines the responsibility the region has: “Through the merge the two institutions will unite, strengthen and develop research and higher education of high quality in the north and in Norway”, NRK writes. The merge will be effective from August 1, 2013.
Posted 18 February 2013; 1:18:51 PM. Permalink
(CBC/Eye on the Arctic, 31 January 2013) -- Doctors from across Canada and Greenland are in Iqaluit this week to discuss tuberculosis in Nunavut. The territory continues to have the highest infection rates in Canada, with 100 cases in 2010, 74 in 2011 and 79 last year. Nunavut's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Maureen Baikie, said there are still a lot of TB cases in Nunavut. She said gathering experts together now will help improve the TB programs delivered in the territory. "For example, we've looked at the use of BCG vaccine, we're getting some advice on some of the new tests that are out there for TB. So all of it will be used as we examine our TB program," said Baikie. One of those programs is Taima TB, which started in Iqaluit in 2011 with Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated as a partner.
Posted 1 February 2013; 8:16:39 AM. Permalink
(Andreas Østhagen/The Arctic Institute, 19 December 2012) -- The prospect of offshore oil and gas activity in the waters around Greenland constitutes a highly contentious issue in the larger debate on Arctic petroleum development. Given Greenland’s special status as a part of the Danish Realm, with a high degree of self-governance and a majority Inuit population, oil and gas drilling there has engaged actors with a wide range of interests. Arctic oil and gas development is often generalised into a two-sided conflict between those who emphasise the protection of the environment and those who seek potential profits, with the interests of local communities variably used in favour of one or the other depending on the area of the region under question. Some of the dimensions that seem to determine much of the actual development are often lost in this dichotomy, to the dismay of those in favour of an informed debate. Taking into account that Greenland is just one of the many parts of the Arctic that is experiencing this development, with its own unique characteristics, this article sets out to shed light on the importance of internal political and commercial factors when discussing petroleum development around the island.
Posted 4 January 2013; 5:24:21 PM. Permalink
(Regnum, 8 October 2012) -- As of 5 October, 3,546 educational institutions of a total of 5,440 are connected to district heating (65%). These figures were reported on 8 October by the press service of the Far Eastern envoy after a meeting chaired by the Minister for Development of the Far East - the presidential envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District Viktor Ishayev. At a meeting called to discuss preparations for winter, it was announced that 1,308 health facilities of 2,452 were connected to district heating (53%). Health care facilities in the Sakhalin (22) and Khabarovsk (278) regions have yet to be connected. 67% of Far East homes are connected to district heating. The envoy called on the authorities to fully provide heat to institutions of education and health care. He also instructed officials to undertake appropriate checks across the districts to identify connection problems and to get them fixed. [this is an edited version of the original]
Posted 14 October 2012; 5:18:29 PM. Permalink
(Emily Schwing/KUAC - Fairbanks via Eye on the Arctic, 11 October 2012) -- The Arctic Village of Kivalina may run out of fresh water this winter. Governor Sean Parnell declared a disaster in the village last month after heavy rainfall flooded the Wulik River and washed away some of the city's surface water piping. By the time the state Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management had shipped a new high speed pump and pipe to the community, it was too late according to City Administrator, Janet Mitchell. Slush clogged the pipes and the crew gave up. It's not clear how much water made it into the tanks. Mitchell, who grew up in Kivalina, says residents have always tried to conserve water. But the majority of Kivalina's 436 residents don't have boats or snowmachines to access large quantities of fresh drinking water. So they use the local washeteria. It's unlikely to remain open through the winter.
Posted 12 October 2012; 3:19:17 PM. Permalink
(Reuters, 17 April 2012) -- Russian police detained two dozen Greenpeace activists on Tuesday for protesting against Arctic drilling after Russia's largest oil producer signed a landmark deal with Exxon Mobil Corp to jointly prospect for oil in the far north. A spokeswoman for the environmental group, Vera Bakasheva, said a total of 23 activists were arrested for holding an unsanctioned rally outside Russia's Arctic Oil and Gas Conference in Moscow. "We wanted to give the message to the people at the conference that drilling in the Arctic is dangerous and needs to be stopped," Bakasheva said. The protest was organized after Rosneft and Exxon earlier this week sealed a wide-reaching partnership granting both sides access to each others' reserves. The deal paved the way for both companies to prospect for oil in three areas of Russia's Arctic Kara Sea, estimated by Rosneft to hold 36 billion barrels of recoverable reserves.
Posted 18 April 2012; 4:18:00 PM. Permalink
(RIA Novosti, 5 April 2012) -- Russia intends to spend around 1.3 trillion rubles ($44 billion) on economic and social projects in the Arctic until 2020, the Russian minister for regional development, Viktor Basargin, said in an interview with the government daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta published on Thursday. The state budget is expected to provide some 503 billion rubles ($17 billion) to create new transportation corridors in the Arctic, develop new hydrocarbon deposits and social infrastructure, improve living standards of local population, maintain the environment and culture of indigenous peoples, the minister said. Another 724 billion rubles ($24.5 billion) is planned to be taken from regional budgets, he said. Businesses are expected to provide another 80 billion rubles ($2.7 billion). The figures are yet to be confirmed. Arctic territories, seen as the key to huge untapped natural resources, have increasingly been at the center of mounting disputes between the United States, Russia, Canada, Norway, and Denmark in recent years as rising temperatures lead to a reduction in sea ice, providing access to lucrative offshore oil and gas deposits. Russia is planning to deploy a combined-arms force by 2020 to guard its political and economic interests in the Arctic.
Posted 7 April 2012; 10:37:00 AM. Permalink
(IceNews, 23 March 2012) -- A Danish prison inspector has spoken out about the practice of sending Greenlandic inmates to Danish gaols, claiming it contravenes their human rights to maintain close ties with their families. Hans Jørgen Elbo argues that Denmark would probably lose a case in the European Court of Human Rights if the Greenlanders serving sentences at Herstedvester Prison made a stand. As Greenland currently has no permanent jails, around 20 inmates have been sent to Herstedvester. Prisoners have been housed in Denmark since 1952, and the construction of Greenland’s first prison is still to be completed after various setbacks since 2007. Elbo was publicly reprimanded for his comments by Annette Esdorf, deputy CEO of the prison service (Kriminalforsorgen), at a meeting last week. He is unrepentant, however, claiming no one has been able to prove that the practice does not violate the prisoners’ rights. Speaking to Politiken, Peter Scharff Smith of the human rights Institute for Menneskerettigheder, said he agrees with the inspector.
Posted 26 March 2012; 10:11:19 PM. Permalink
(Ben Anderson/Alaska Dispatch, 23 March 2012) -- Sitting in a room listening to a lecture doesn’t sound like a good time for a lot of people. But the TED -- that’s short for Technology, Entertainment and Design -- lecture series has made a name for itself by providing riveting discussions on cutting edge science, technology, aesthetics and ethics and has attracted big personalities like filmmaker James Cameron and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Anchorage is home to its own TED series, one of many offshoots of the main program known as TEDx, signifying an independently organized, usually local event capturing the spirit of the larger TED series. On Saturday, the third-annual TEDx Anchorage event will take place with a full day of free lectures from a variety of Alaskans looking for ways to make the 49th state a better place. The event this year is being held in the Wilda Marston Theater at Anchorage’s Loussac Library, and much of the time and logistics have been donated by willing volunteers. Speakers have been nominated and then voted on by committee to find a variety of subjects and voices, all of which fall under the broad theme of “Finding our Voices.” According to event coordinator Carolyn Kinneen, there’s been more interest in this year’s event than in year’s past, especially at the event’s Facebook and Twitter pages. “When I put out the call on Twitter and Facebook for potential speakers, people responded, and a lot of our speakers eventually came from folks in the community who talked to me about them,” Kinneen said. “Multiple people proposed each one of (the eventual speakers).” Once a speaker has been nominated, a committee votes on each, eventually whittling the field down. There will be 19 speakers this year, giving talks of about 15 minutes apiece, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with periodic breaks. The event is free, so audience members are permitted to wander in and out depending on which speeches pique their interest.
Posted 25 March 2012; 5:03:56 PM. Permalink
(Nordic Council News, 22 March 2012) -- Women are leaving their homes in the Arctic Region at a faster pace and social change is not far behind. The Nordic Council Citizens' and Consumer Rights Committee intends to find out how the Nordic governments can tackle the problem. For example, the debate in Greenland depicts climate change as the major threat to the traditional culture of hunting and fishing, but social research points to the lack of women and social change as a serious threat. Maria Stenberg (S), Swedish member of the Nordic Council Citizens' and Consumer Rights Committee, has, in conjunction with the Nordic Council Theme Session on the Arctic, addressed a written question on the issue to the Nordic governments. "I would like to know what steps the Nordic governments intend to take to foster women's opportunities for education and a career. If nothing is done there is a risk that the emigration and subsequent shortage of women will be a greater threat than climate change to social progress in the Arctic Region", says Maria Stenberg. "The fact that more women are leaving the Arctic has a negative effect on both social life and on the economy. It limits the possibilities of finding a partner, building a family and maintaining family relations, but it also means a loss of skilled labour", observes Stenberg. The women move to get an education, better jobs and better schooling for their children. The largest shortage of women is in parts of northern Russia and Greenland where there are about 85 women to 100 men, but the flight of women is also noticeable in the northern parts of Finland, Norway and Sweden. "Further development of distance learning could be one way to break the vicious circle of emigration. Commitment to quality in general welfare and job creation for those who have an education are other important initiatives. Efforts to prevent negative attitudes and a positive political approach towards the structural discrimination which women face in the workplace are also important measures. Unless we get a united political grip on this issue there is a great risk that the Arctic will become destitute of women", says Maria Stenberg. ... The lack of women is worst in the peripheral areas of the Arctic which are highly specialised in the traditional male dominated activities such as fishing, agriculture, forestry, mining and the military. The trend has been developing over several decades and at an increasing speed over the last 10-15 years. The distinguishing feature is that the male population tends to emigrate temporarily while the women move permanently from the region.
Posted 25 March 2012; 5:00:34 PM. Permalink
(Jonas Karlsbakk/Barents Observer, 19 March 2012) -- In eight years the number of inhabitants in the Murmansk Region has decreased by 97,000 people. Depopulation due to young people who migrate south is a huge problem for Murmansk region, says Igor Chernyshenko in Murmansk Regional Duma. Today the number of inhabitants in Murmansk Oblast is 795,000 people, which is an 11 percent decline over the last eight years. However, if we look at the population decline since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the population has dropped from 1.2 million inhabitants in the late 1980s. According to Chernichenko there is nothing that indicate that the situation is about to change. "In the Soviet Union there were a lot of extra benefits for people living in the north. The wages were higher and we had an extra week of holiday. The benefits are now gone and the wages are the same as elsewhere in Russia," says Chernyshenko. With loss of benefits there has been a huge migration southwards, which also is the main reason for the population decline. Of the overall population decline, 84 percent is due to migration. The Murmansk region is also highly urbanized, with 93 percent of the people living in urban areas. Chernyshenko says that of the 795,000 people living in Murmansk Oblast, 243,000 people are senior citizens. The growing population of senior citizens has become a big challenge for Murmansk, as the main groups of people who migrate are young people. "When young people can have the same annual salary in more southern and central parts of Russia, they see no reason to stay in the cold Murmansk climate any more. So they move."
Posted 20 March 2012; 12:10:50 AM. Permalink
(Alexandra Gutierrez/KUCB - Unalaska, APR, 16 March 2012) -- The state legislature is making progress toward establishing an Arctic policy commission. At a hearing of the House Finance Committee on Wednesday, Rep. Reggie Joule explained that even though Alaska is the country’s only Arctic state, it’s often left out of conversations about federal policy concerning the region. He thinks that having a body responsible for developing an Arctic strategy would give the state more credibility with regulators in Washington. “When we went and addressed the State Department, the Department of the Interior, it is amazing what people do not know about our state that should be basic,” said Joule. “And they get to make budget decisions. And I think it’s imperative that the legislature stay involved in this process.” The idea for the Alaska Arctic Policy Commission came out of the Northern Waters Task Force, a state body that had a similar mission but was only meant to exist for two years. If established, the Alaska Arctic Policy Commission would pick up where the task force left off. It would also be expanded to include representatives from industry, academia, conservation groups, and the state’s tribes.
Posted 18 March 2012; 1:16:54 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 10 February 2012) -- Nunavut's new high school curriculum will offer students a choice of six majors with an emphasis on practical skills, in the hopes it will keep more students in school. Inuit elders and education staff, who have been working on the new curriculum for years, also say it’s a better reflection of the territory’s unique culture. Nunavut’s current education guidelines were set before it became its own territory and they were based on those of Alberta and the other territories. The government has decided to move to a new multiple-option system. In addition to courses such as math and science, students can choose to major in one of six new areas: Introduction to trades and technology; History, heritage and culture; Community caregiving and family studies; Entrepreneurship and small-business studies; Fine arts and crafts; and Information technology. Diplomas will display students’ majors when they graduate. “We’re hoping it will keep more kids in school. Because right now, sometimes there isn’t as much practical hands-on coursework and it’s very ad-hoc,” said Cathy McGregor, director of curriculum development for Nunavut’s Department of Education. “So I think if it’s more organized and more co-ordinated, it might be more stimulating and challenging for kids.” Pascale Baillargeon, a guidance counsellor at Inuksuk High School in Iqaluit, comes face to face with the territory’s notoriously high drop-out rates and low attendance every day. But she says it is not a hopeless cause. “The kids are genuinely interested. It’s just making that connection,” she said. The Department of Education hopes the new curriculum will do the trick but Baillargeon said it won’t solve every issue. Some of the curriculum’s limitations are that few schools, if any, will be able to offer all six specialties. Most will only be able to provide two or three. The new curriculum comes into effect in September 2013.
Posted 13 February 2012; 2:28:41 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 9 February 2012) -- Greenland was in mourning Thursday after an eight-year-old girl and two women were bludgeoned to death and two men seriously injured in a remote Inuit village. Flags flew at half staff and two minutes of silence were observed across the giant, but sparsely populated island, where violence of that scale is rare. A 22-year-old man was arrested on preliminary charges, including three counts of murder and four counts of attempted murder, police said. The attack happened Wednesday in Nutaarmiut, a west coast hamlet with 46 inhabitants, about 900 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle. The victims were initially believed to have been shot, but police spokesman Claus Risbjerg said Thursday the killer had used blunt instruments, probably hammers, to bludgeon the girl and two women, aged 31 and 75. Two men, aged 32 and 81, were seriously injured in the attack and flown to Denmark for treatment, Risbjerg said, adding the condition of the 81-year-old man was "very critical." Another woman and her daughter narrowly escaped the attack, police said, but didn't give details. Risbjerg said the victims were family related but declined to comment on local reports that the motive could be a family dispute.
Posted 10 February 2012; 3:33:34 PM. Permalink
(Radio Sweden, 6 February 2012) -- The Winter cold snap hits residents in the far north of Sweden as temperatures plummet. -34°C, though, is no barrier to the staging of Sweden's first ever outdoor swimming championships. Staying in the north, we find out how Sweden's indigenous race [sic], the Sami, celebrate their national day today. And we visit Stockholm fashion week!
(Iceland Review, 30 January 2012) -- Archeologists from the Danish National Museum have now proven that Eric the Red, who founded the Icelandic settlement in Greenland at the end of the tenth century AD, and his contemporaries were able to brew ale. There have long been speculations whether the climate in the southernmost part of Greenland was warm enough in the Viking era to growing cereals for brewing ale, the staple beverage of Vikings, make porridge and bake bread, visir.is reports. Now archeologists have found remains of burnt barley in a dunghill that dates back to the time of Eric the Red’s settlement in Greenland and is the first indication of cereal growing in the country’s southernmost part a millennium ago. The Danish newspaper Jyllandsposten states that the archeologists are very proud of their discovery and now intend to move 300 kilos of the dunghill to Denmark for further research. Click here to read an earlier report about barley being grown in Greenland.
Posted 30 January 2012; 1:26:53 PM. Permalink
(Jill Burke/Alaska Dispatch via Eye on the Arctic, 20 January 2012) -- Just before 6 a.m. on Thursday, the last drops of fuel flowed through two hoses stretching 700 yards from ship to shore in Nome, Alaska. It took more than 60 hours of continuous pumping to transfer an estimated 1.3 million gallons of fuel from a Russian fuel tanker to the Alaska fuel buyer's storage tanks. Crews continue working to clear about 7,000 gallons that remains in the hoses. During the day Thursday, crews were also planning to detach the hoses and clear the safety zone that had been established around the ships and begin preparations for a Friday departure back through 395 miles of Bering Sea pack ice, said Stacey Smith, project manager with Vitus Marine, which hired the Renda to bring the fuel to Nome. The U.S. Coast Guard's ice-breaking cutter Healy will break itself and the Renda free of their parking spots outside Nome's harbor. Then, just as it did for the trip to Nome, the Healy will lead the convoy south in search of open water. According to the Coast Guard, the ships are aiming for a Friday "bon voyage!" Renda's crew has been at sea, busting through ice, for nine months. Healy's crew has been under way for eight. After it leaves the Bering Sea ice pack, Healy will return to Seattle, her home port. "I am extremely proud of the way our partners and the marine industry worked as a collaborative team along with the Coast Guard to get the needed fuel to the residents of Nome." Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo, Coast Guard District 17 commander, said in a prepared statement Thursday.
Posted 23 January 2012; 10:47:53 PM. Permalink
(Hannah Heimbuch/The Arctic Sounder, 29 December 2011) -- Alaska's mushing community can add a new race to their to-do lists in the coming year, as the Norton Sound Sled Dog Club ushers in the Paul Johnson Memorial - Norton Sound 450. The race begins in Unalakleet on the morning of Feb 8 and finishes a few days later in Nome. Race organizers, like Middy Johnson of Unalakleet, are working on making the race a qualifier for the Iditarod, which kicks off from Anchorage a month later on March 3. "It'll give us something to add to our region during that time when you're just coming out of the dead of winter, and give people something to look forward to," Johnson said. The race is dedicated to the memory of beloved Alaska musher and Unalakleet resident Paul Johnson – Middy Johnson's brother – who died unexpectedly in October from surgery complications. Paul Johnson was a lifelong member of the Norton Sound Dog Sled Club and had planned to run the 2012 Iditarod. The club wanted to establish a major qualifying race in the Norton Sound region that is accessible to local mushers – both financially and geographically. Aaron Burmeister, a veteran of 12 Iditarod races, splits his time between Nenana and Nome. He is one of a number of mushers already planning to hit the trail for both the Paul Johnson Memorial race and the 2012 Iditarod. "I think it's fantastic. It's a great way to promote the sport on the coast and get the community and villages back involved with it," Burmeister said. "(It) will be a big benefit to the rural mushers in that area that have goals of running the Iditarod. It's so expensive for mushers in the Bush to travel out to races to get qualified." Burmeister also pointed out that because the race covers nearly a third of the Iditarod trail, it is excellent training ground for any musher serious about Alaska's longest sled dog race.
Posted 30 December 2011; 6:05:25 PM. Permalink
(Yukon College, 19 December 2011) -- Yukon College is piloting a service-learning course this winter that will take advantage of the volunteer opportunity offered by Whitehorse's hosting the 2012 Arctic Winter Games. Essentially, volunteer, come to class, and through academic consideration of the experience and its context, earn university-level Northern Studies elective credits. NOTE: The course outline shown on the linked page is for a different offering of this course. The current outline may be retrieved from the enclosure URL below this post.
(CJCD Mix 100 News via hqyellowknife.com, 25 November 2011) -- Yellowknife, N.W.T. - Whether it's building, buying, or renting - housing costs in the NWT are through the roof. Carleton University PhD student, Nick Falvo, made that point clear on Thursday. After a two-and-a-half year study, he presented a report on housing at Yellowknife's City Hall. Nick Falvo said government funding is critical to maintain housing. "In 1993, the federal government discontinued its ongoing, permanent commitment to social housing. So, since that time there have been some one-off announcements of funding, but there's never been an ongoing, long-term commitment." Falvo's report says that the cost of utilities in the territory is double that of the rest of Canada, and that it costs twice as much to build a home on the Arctic coast than it does in Hay River or Fort Smith. Falvo and Arlene Hache, the executive director of the Centre for Northern Families, released a report on homelessness to the GNWT in May, and Falvo said little has been done to address it. "Wendy Bisaro did table the homelessness report in the legislature, and she has asked questions since that time, and there was some discussion about the report in the lead up to the territorial election. But, we're still waiting for an actual response from the Government of the Northwest Territories." After the presentation, Hache and Bisaro, the MLA for Frame Lake, joined a panel discussion to talk housing in the NWT.
Posted 28 November 2011; 11:04:05 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 29 October 2011) -- Former aboriginal students who say the RCMP herded them off to residential schools are expressing a sense of validation following the release of a report into the Mounties' role in the notorious school system. However, not all the survivors believe the report will help with their healing. The RCMP released the report Saturday at a Halifax session of the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which is looking into how 150,000 aboriginal children were taken from their families over more than a century. The 463-page report found that the RCMP had a major involvement in bringing students from First Nation communities to the residential schools. Various data sources were collected over a 30-month period between April 2007 and September 2009 to answer questions about the RCMP's relationship with schools, students, federal agencies and departments. ... The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has been holding public sessions in Halifax since Wednesday. The report says that at times, RCMP withheld information from parents of residential school students about what was happening with their children, and at times they acted like truant officers to schools. "Students saw themselves herded like cattle and brought into RCMP cars and taken into school. What they say is that these stories have come out throughout the years, but what this does today is validate those stories and show that they were true," CBC reporter Michael Dick said in Halifax. RCMP stress in the report that the force did not know what was going on behind the schools' walls, where abuse was rampant, and that they were trying to act in the best interest with the information they knew at the time. The Mounties stressed that the abuse in residential schools happened all over the country. Approximately 150,000 aboriginal children were forced to attend residential schools. The Mounties were summoned to forcibly take the children to the schools if their families resisted sending them away.
Posted 29 October 2011; 12:16:25 PM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 24 August 2011) -- Thousands of people are moving away from the Russian part of the Barents Region. Population decline with 13.4 thousand in the first half of 2011. ¾ of this amount is a result of negative migration outside the region. Komi Republic and Arkhangelsk oblast show the worst results in this dynamic, but also Republic of Karelia and Murmansk oblast have negative figures. Murmansk oblast lost 1886 people due to negative migration and Karelia showed only minus 262. The highest negative migration balance has Komi Republic – minus 4153 for the first six months of 2011. Arkhangelsk oblast lost 3824 of people due to negative migration processes in the same period. Murmansk oblast also experience negative migration. Over 14 thousand moved out of the region this year, while 12.3 thousand people moved in. Totally the Barents Russian regions (Arkhangelsk and Murmansk oblasts, Komi and Karelia republics) lost over 440 thousand of population during the last ten years. Population of Komi Republic decreased by 11.7%, Murmansk and Arkhangelsk oblasts – by 11%, Karelia – by 10%, according to the figures by Russia’s Federal Statistics.
Posted 29 August 2011; 1:51:22 PM. Permalink
(Jane George/Nunatsiaq News, 13 July 2011) -- The federal environment department wants to add polar bears to Canada’s list of endangered species. On July 2 an Order of Parliament was filed in the Canada Gazette, asking for an amendment to the Species of Risk Act, which would see polar bears listed as a species “of special concern.” There’s now a 30 day comment period on the amendment. “The proposed Order is an important commitment regarding Polar Bears and their vulnerability,” reads an impact analysis statement on the Order. To gauge public support for the listing of polar bears, Environment Canada carried out public consultations between November 2008 and March 2010. “In the North, the majority of communities contacted were not in favour of listing the Polar Bear,” the impact analysis statement acknowledges. Meetings took place in 23 of 25 Nunavut communities and 793 people attended. Of the 119 comments received, the majority did not support listing the polar bear under SARA. The Nunavut Wildlife Management Board, which, under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, can approve the designation of rare, threatened and endangered species in Nunavut, advised the Minister of the Environment that it would not support the proposed listing of the polar bear as a species of special concern. The Nunavik Marine Region Wildlife Board also decided against the listing of the polar bear. And last May, Nunavut’s environment Minister Dan Shewchuk reversed the Government of Nunavut’s previously-held position in favour of listing, following consultation with hunters and elders. Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. has said the listing creates an opening for animal welfare groups to try to influence Canada’s polar bear management. The move to list polar bears comes three years after the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada assessed the polar bear as a species of special concern. Under SARA, the listing of a species as special concern means a management plan must be prepared within three years to prevent the listed species from becoming endangered or threatened.
Posted 13 July 2011; 10:24:42 AM. Permalink
(Lisa Demer/Anchorage Daily News, 4 July 2011) -- When Sarah and River Bean cleared old timber to start their farm near Palmer more than two decades ago, one of their first chores was recruiting customers for the coming harvest. It was a way to build a base of buyers and make their love of farming a viable business. Their customers, in turn, got fresh vegetables all summer long. Turns out the Beans were on the leading edge of what's now a hot trend in Alaska. In a state once known for dreary produce aisles and few fruit options, customers from Adak to Anchorage are turning to a growing number of farm-to-table delivery services. Some are spending hundreds of dollars a year in exchange for boxes packed with local or organic produce. ... Business is growing fast in Alaska, say subscription produce operators, who charge anywhere from $35 to more than double that for a weekly box of fruits and veggies. One outfit, Washington state-based Full Circle, is targeting customers beyond the urban core with regular shipments of organic produce to villages and hubs from Bethel to Barrow and beyond.
Posted 12 July 2011; 12:02:39 PM. Permalink
(Mike Dunham/Anchorage Daily News, 11 July 2011) -- Anchorage is home to more Athabascans than Fairbanks, more Yup'ik than Bethel and more Inupiat than Barrow, the U.S. Census shows. The city has long been known as "Alaska's biggest Native village." With new numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau it can now claim, more specifically, to be home to both the largest Yup'ik and largest Inupiat communities. According to information from the 2010 Census released on June 30, Anchorage has a Native American population of 23,130. That's about one in 13 residents. Yup'ik remain the single largest Alaska Native group in the state, followed by Inupiat and Athabascans, the figures show. The new numbers offer a closer look at where members of different Alaska Native groups live around the state. The previous Census, in 2000, made no distinction between Yup'ik, who have historically resided along the Bering Sea coast from the Alaska Peninsula to Norton Sound, and Inupiat, who occupy the coast north of Unalakleet and along the Arctic Ocean. In 2000, the two ethnic groups were lumped together as "Eskimo" and 5,607 were reported as living in Anchorage. That changed with the 2010 Census. In answering the survey, a respondent could identify himself or herself as belonging to a single tribe, as having two or more Native American tribes in their background, or in any combination with non-Native groups.
Posted 11 July 2011; 4:15:49 PM. Permalink
(Iceland Review Daily News, 28 June 2011) -- Icelandic healthcare clinics have begun to look for foreign physicians as Icelandic physicians are not returning to Iceland after completing their specialist education. Indian doctors have been hired by the hospital in Akureyri and more are expected to come. “We have advertised for physicians and specialists overseas and been able to recruit qualified individuals in most cases. However, not all positions have been filled,” Gróa Björk Jóhannesdóttir, a stand-in director at Akureyri hospital, told Morgunbladid. She said the hospital would consider hiring more foreign specialists. Gróa continued to say that “it’s probably been about 30 to 35 years since the first Indian came to practice medicine here and in the last 5 to 6 years more physicians have come to Akureyri.” Indian doctors are well educated and they fill the necessary positions the hospital has not been able to fill with Icelandic specialists. The hospital would prefer to hire Icelandic-speaking physicians whenever possible. In recent editions, Morgunbladid has reported on the lack of physicians in Icelandic hospitals and clinics and the problems arising from fewer and fewer Icelandic doctors returning to Iceland following their specialist education. Loss of local specialists is also a growing problem.
Posted 1 July 2011; 12:49:19 AM. Permalink
Archeological remains that were found during an excavation in Urridakot in Gardabaer, a neighboring town of Reykjavík, were much older than archeologists had assumed. They date back to the settlement of Iceland in the 9th century AD while Urridakot is first mentioned in written sources from the 16th century. Excavation has been ongoing in Urridakot in the past years because of planned construction in the area. In 2006 the local authorities asked the Institute of Archaeology to fully complete the registration of archeological remains within the town limits, Fréttabladid reports. “The first test dig was made in Urridakot in 2007 and last year the excavation was to be completed at which point I decided to dig in the area between those that had been tested,” said archeologist Ragnheidur Traustadóttir. “Nothing could be seen on the surface and there are no sources on anything in the area but then we discovered a magnificent cowshed from the Settlement Era,” she described, adding that they also found a lodge, storage room, pantry and a cooking hole from the 9th to 11th century; further research is required to determine how old the remains are exactly. Click here to read more about archeological discoveries in Iceland.
Posted 19 May 2011; 2:54:46 PM. Permalink
(Paul Waldie/The Globe and Mail via CTV News, 14 May 2011) -- A handful of people shuffle into the community hall in Kimmirut, Nunavut, a tiny outpost on the southern coast of Baffin Island. It’s early December, and the small group shakes off the cold winter air and settles into folding chairs to hear a presentation about something completely foreign to Baffin Island – a railway. “I have never seen a railway before,” a woman named Joannie tells the gathering, according to minutes of the meeting. “Could you give a better idea of what the train will look like?” Nobody else has seen a railway on Baffin Island either. No one has built one this far north, anywhere. But now – thanks to an insatiable global demand for minerals, and climate change that has opened up northern shipping routes – a rail line across part of Baffin Island is about to become a reality. It’s also a sign of things to come.
Posted 16 May 2011; 11:59:38 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 10 May 2011) -- Type 2 diabetes, once considered rare in Inuit communities, is now comparable to rates in the general population, researchers have found. The Inuit Health Survey was conducted as part of International Polar Year to help fill in gaps on health data for Canadian Inuit, who requested the information on their people. The new findings showed 28 per cent of Inuit were overweight, 35 per cent were obese and nearly 44 per cent had what is considered an unhealthy waist size based on standards for Caucasians, according to the study published in this week's Canadian Medical Association Journal. "Long time ago my parents didn't know anything about diabetes," recalls Flossie Oakoak, a 62-year-old Inuk originally from Cambridge Bay who has Type 2 diabetes. "When there was no white man here, there was only caribou, char. Most of the people are getting bigger and bigger." Oakoak now lives in Yellowknife, where she watches her diet, passing on dessert and opting not to cave in to a craving for pizza hot from an oven over lunch at a downtown women's centre. For the study, researchers from McGill University in Montreal and the University of Toronto looked at data on 2,595 randomly selected participants in 1,901 households in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Labrador to understand the prevalence of high blood sugar levels.
Posted 10 May 2011; 2:49:21 PM. Permalink
Southern Canadians are clueless when it comes to knowledge of the North, a new poll suggests. Up Here magazine, based in Yellowknife, set out to survey southern Canadians' knowledge of the north, and found it wanting. Up Here editor Katharine Sandiford was shocked by the reponse of 303 southerners to 28 multiple-choice questions asked in a demographically balanced poll in February. "The fact that a whopping 74 per cent of Canadians think that penguins might live in the Arctic" had magazine staffers rolling on the floor. Other gaps in knowledge: A third of Canadians didn't know Nunavut was the newest territory; about the same number also didn't know the word Inuit replaced Eskimo; half believed that Canada has several military bases protecting the Northwest Passage. "I guess what we're hoping to do with this North Poll is sort of give Canadians a bit of a slap on the back of the head and say, 'Wake up,'" said Sandiford. But Brent Reaney, who grew up in Southern Ontario has lived in Nunavut and now lives in Yellowknife, isn't surprised. "To understand this place, I think you do have to experience it, and only so many people have experienced it," he said. And the poll held some good news for northerners, Sandiford said. Asked what word they would use to describe northerners, "friendly was the word that was chosen the most often," she said. "At least they don't think we're jerks, but maybe after reading this article they will." The magazine set out to have fun with the poll, inspired by Rick Mercer's questions to Americans about Canada. "We thought we would play up the same kind of line of humour and look at how silly it is that Canadians don't know anything about their North," Sandiford said. The magazine notes that even its editors struggled with some questions. "Is it really a crime to be ignorant about life in the North? Perhaps it's willful — maybe the Canadian psyche needs the North to be a vast unknown," the editors wrote, but then answered their own question. "Nah. Smarten up." The results are published in the May issue of Up Here magazine. The questions can be tried on the Up Here website. The poll is accurate to plus or minus 5.6 per cent 19 times out of 20.
Posted 23 April 2011; 10:55:09 PM. Permalink
(Sveriges Radio, 19 April 2011) -- Plans continue for the moving and rebuilding the northern Swedish mining community of Kiruna — since the vast network of tunnels under the streets have made life there shaky — and there are plans to dig even more mine shafts in the search for that valuable iron ore. But hopes of local politicians and the mining company leaders to rip down instead of to move old historic buildings have sparked some high-level protests. A highly unusual and costly measure to be sure to move and rebuild a whole town — and local politicians and the state owned LKAB mining company making profits for the last 120 years are counting the kronor. Both have jointly appealed to the government to remove the cultural stamp of preservation for the town’s historic buildings – arguing that it would be cheaper to build brand new. But some leaders of Swedish organizations defending the historic buildings have appealed in the prestigious Stockholm newspaper Svenska Dagbladet to save the structures: the city hall with its high rectangular clock tower – not just a home base for politicians but a gathering place for the whole community, the central train station – the hub of tracks bringing in the workers and settlers to this once sparsely populated region and removing the iron ore to ports and factories around the world; a beautiful and pomp-filled settlement of 1895 – once the home of the company boss – and now a museum and conference center. Kerstin Westerlund Bjurström is the chairperson of the Swedish section of the international council on monuments and sites – explaining why she co-signed the appeal. in Kiruna, the town’s head architect Tomas Nylund is diplomatic in his position balancing between the will of his bosses the politicians and those wanting to save the historic past.
Posted 19 April 2011; 2:50:58 PM. Permalink
(Sermitsiaq News, 14 April 2011) -- Vincent Frederick Minik Alexander and Josephine Sophia Ivalo Mathilda is the twins' full names. For the first time ever Greenlandic names have been introduced into the royal family. Crown Prince Frederik and Princess Mary's immediate family now consists of Prince Frederick Vincent Minik Alexander, Princess Josephine Sophia Ivalo Mathilda, Prince Christian Valdemar Henri John, and Princess Isabella Henrietta Ingrid Margrethe. The twins were baptized in the Church of Holmen in Copenhagen shortly before 12 o'clock west Greenland time.
Posted 14 April 2011; 12:55:43 PM. Permalink
(ITN via Yahoo! News, 4 April 2011) -- Prince Harry's intrepid Arctic adventure to raise £2 million for the Walking With The Wounded charity is finally due to commence. The 26-year-old was due to leave the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen on Friday with a group of wounded servicemen aiming to walk to the North Pole. But their departure was put on hold due to dangerous winds around Borneo Ice Airfield. The team was due to land at the spot on Sunday where an airstrip is being built about 200 miles from the North Pole. But plans were postponed since the airfield was not ready due to gales delaying the building of the runway. Winds in Murmansk were blowing in the wrong direction for a heavily loaded supply plane to take off. The third-in-line to the throne has been on the island since Tuesday, training and bonding with the servicemen. The delays mean Prince Harry will only have three nights on the ice, rather than the planned five days, as he will be collected on Thursday and return home to fulfil military commitments - an important stage of his Apache helicopter training.
Posted 4 April 2011; 4:16:18 PM. Permalink
(Patrick White/Globe and Mail, 1 April 2011) -- Crime has doubled in Nunavut since the territory was founded 12 years ago this week, raising a critical question: Is Nunavut a failure of Canadian nation building? And if so, what must be done for history’s scars to heal? ... The police and local media talked of a town unravelling, of a place where social norms had collapsed. What no one said aloud was that the unhinged town was symptomatic of an unhinged territory. While Canadians were aware there were social problems in the North, the outbreak of mayhem in Cape Dorset last fall drew broad attention for the first time to their violent extremes – the toll Nunavut pays in cold blood. The rate of violent crime per capita here is seven times what it is in the rest of Canada. The homicide rate is around 1,000 per cent of the Canadian average. And the number of crimes reported to the police have more than doubled in the dozen years since the territory was formed. If it were an independent country, Nunavut's crime statistics would place it in the realm of South Africa or Mexico. Even more than Nunavummiut harming each other, they are hurting themselves: Inuit males aged 15 to 24 have a suicide rate 40 times that of their peers in the rest of Canada, and children are abused at a rate 10 times the national average, even as 50 per cent of social-worker positions stand vacant.
Posted 2 April 2011; 9:19:13 PM. Permalink
(SR via Eye on the Arctic, 30 March 2011) -- In a new report to be sent to the Swedish government in May, the Sami Parliament in Kiruna will demand greater self determination for the country's indigenous people. But how united are Sweden's estimated 20,000 Sami? How many feel represented by their parliament? Today only about one in ten Sami have traditional land rights but their parliament in Kiruna is still dominated by land-related divisions and disputes. Although only 5 percent of the Sami are reindeer herders, they occupy 55 percent of the seats in the Sami Parliament. “Swedish legislation has given the limited rights that indigenous people have to land and water use to the reindeer herders,” explains Peter Sköld, head of the Centre for Sami Research at Umeå University. And that gives them a better political ground to speak from – the others are totally excluded.” Since 2007 the Sami Parliament has responsibility for the reindeer industry in Sweden. But the president of the parliament, Ingrid Inga, says that's not enough - she says the government must fully recognise the Sami people's right to decide over their own affairs. "We want reforms that give us powers over areas that affect us - language, education, land use and so on. We need this so that the parliament becomes a real decision making body and not just the state agency which we are at the moment," she tells Radio Sweden.The Sami parliament has less power than a Swedish county council and is not formally consulted by the Swedish government, despite being in existence for almost two decades. “There has been a process over the last two decades where we first set up a Sami Parliament and then gave it responsibility for reindeer husbandry and now school boards,” says Eskil Erlandsson, the Swedish government minister responsible for Sami affairs. “We made a proposal [about consultation] two years ago and the Sami parliament refused it and said they wanted to think about it before deciding if they would accept the proposal.”
Posted 30 March 2011; 11:57:39 AM. Permalink
(Annie Feidt/APRN – Anchorage, 16 March 2011) -- Alaska received its 2010 census numbers today. Overall the state’s population grew, but many areas of rural Alaska lost residents.
(CBC News, 21 February 2011) -- The Teslin Tlingit Council in southern Yukon has signed a historic agreement to run its own justice system, allowing the self-governing First Nation to enact its own laws and set up its own court. Teslin Tlingit Chief Peter Johnston signed the Administration of Justice Agreement with federal Indian and Northern Affairs Minister John Duncan and Yukon Premier Dennis Fentie at a ceremony Monday in Teslin. "The Teslin Tlingit Council now has the legislative, executive and judicial powers over its self-government jurisdictions, enabling us to further enshrine the Tlingit way of life into everything we do," Johnston said in a release. "We look forward to working with Canada, Yukon and our citizens to continue advancing our social, economic and constitutional visions." The agreement allows the First Nation to enact its own laws in a variety of areas, including wildlife protection, control of the First Nation's settlement land, controlling overcrowding of homes, local zoning and planning, adoption, the solemnization of marriages and wills and inheritances, according to the release. The First Nation will establish a "peacemaker court" to prosecute violations of its legislation, impose penalties and resolve disputes based on traditional Teslin Tlingit processes. As well, the First Nation will set up its own corrections programs and services for those who receive sentences from the peacemaker court. The Teslin Tlingit will not take over criminal law cases or matters under federal jurisdiction, such as national security, according to federal officials. The Teslin Tlingit becomes the first among Yukon's 11 self-governing First Nations to sign a justice agreement with the territorial and federal governments. As part of the Umbrella Final Agreement, which was signed by the federal, Yukon and First Nation governments in 1993, the parties have committed to reaching justice agreements with each self-governing First Nation. The Teslin Tlingit's justice system will not only apply to its own citizens — regardless of where they are in Yukon — but also to non-citizens who are visiting or residing on Teslin Tlingit traditional lands.
Posted 21 February 2011; 11:36:52 PM. Permalink
(Rachel D'Oro/Anchorage Daily News, 17 January 2011) -- Gordon Brower has been hunting bowhead whales for most of his 47 years, forgoing life jackets because no one made them in white, the only color that would work as camouflage on Alaska's icy Arctic coast. Now the whaling captain from the nation's northernmost town of Barrow and other Eskimo whalers have begun to wear personal flotation devices, custom-made in the white they've traditionally used to make them more invisible to their massive prey. When the subsistence whaling season arrives this spring, more Alaska Native hunters from coastal villages will be outfitted with the white float coats being distributed through a safety program that's been greatly expanded since its debut last year. A couple dozen whalers also will receive white float pants. ... The coats are the result of efforts by the Coast Guard, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and Burnaby, British Columbia-based Mustang Survival Corp., which makes flotation and extreme climate protection products. The whalers' coats have a nylon shell and flotation foam filling, which also offers protection against the frigid conditions faced in the Arctic. There is no federal or state requirement to wear a life jacket in a recreational boat unless the person is under 13, although life jackets on board are required, he said. The Coast Guard can't purchase equipment to give to the public, so Folkerts turned to the tribal health consortium. The organization tapped $12,000 of its own funds and ordered 52 coats from Mustang, distributing them among whalers in Barrow and two other villages. It was an apt connection. One of the consortium's areas of interest is reducing the disproportionate rate of drownings among Alaska Natives. Between 2000 and 2006, Alaska Natives accounted for 179 drowning deaths in the state, or 45 percent of the 402 such deaths in that period, although they represented less than 18 percent of Alaska's population at the time, according to Hillary Strayer, the organization's injury prevention specialist. ... For the upcoming spring whaling season that begins in April when bowheads are heading north, the consortium is distributing 96 coats among crews from the remaining villages that are members of the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission, which represents 11 communities. Four crews ... will get the float pants. The funds for this year's effort came from a $15,000 donation from Shell Oil and almost $11,000 from Conoco Phillips, an oil producer on the North Slope, where some of the whaling villages are located. Shell has offshore oil exploration projects in the region.
Posted 18 January 2011; 1:17:40 AM. Permalink
(Roxanne Stasyszyn/Yukon News, 17 January 2011) -- The Truth and Reconciliation Commission wants to establish a museum for Canada’s residential schools. In 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized to Canadian aboriginal communities for more than two decades of forced assimilation of First Nation’s culture through the 130 schools. The fallout of that federal-sanctioned policy has affected generations of people. A year after the apology, Harper signed the settlement agreement which established the five-year mandated Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Its job is to educate Canadians about what happened to the estimated 200, 000 aboriginal Canadians forced to attend the schools. The commission has been touring communities and holding events to gather and record peoples’ own stories, memories, artifacts and art. Last week, the commission announced it wants to house all this material in a research centre. In March, experts and survivors will gather in Vancouver to decide what the centre should look like and how it should work.
Posted 17 January 2011; 4:14:19 PM. Permalink
(Atle Staalesen/BarentsObserver, 10 January 2011) -- The Northwest Russian region of Arkhangelsk in 2010 had an economic growth of almost 11 percent. More positive results are expected in 2011, regional experts say. According to the regional Ministry of Economic Development, the Gross Regional Product of Arkhangelsk in 2010 grew by 10,9 percent. That is more than the double of the average in Russia, Dvinainform.ru reports. The GRP now amounts to 240 billion RUB while per capital GRP is 201,000. The figures do not include the Nenets Autonomous Okrug, the closely associated and richer region in the north. In the Nenets AO, the GRP in 2010 grew by 1,9 percent, the ministry says. The regional growth in Arkhangelsk comes after a period of serious crisis. As described in the Barents Monitoring reports, the Arkhangelsk economy in 2009 suffered a serious setback both with regard to the industry and the regional administration. In 2010 industrial production picked pace with a 18 percent growth (January-November). Investments however increased only four percent. Experts predict a continuation of the positive trend in 2011. The region is expected to significantly boost its regional revenues, Dvinainform.ru writes. Read more about social and economic trends in Barents Russia in the Barents Monitoring reports
Posted 12 January 2011; 10:28:28 PM. Permalink
(Doug O'Harra/Alaska Dispatch, 2 January 2011) -- Alaska grew at the slowest rate seen in eight decades and remained the least densely populated state in the nation during the 10 years that ended April 1, according to the first batch of data published by the 2010 U.S. census. The 49th state's headcount rose by slightly more than 83,000 new residents since the last federal census in 2000, swelling the state's official overall population by 13.3 percent to 710,231. This increase vaulted Alaska past North Dakota to become the 47th most populous state. Our growth rate was larger than the 9.7 percent reported for the country as a whole. Only 14 states grew faster. Sound impressive? Think again. Alaska's population increase over the past decade was almost entirely homegrown, according to the state calculations (PDF) that don't yet include figures from 2010. Between 2000 and 2009, Alaska's natural increase (births minus deaths) added more than 66,000 residents, while the state lost about 1,368 people over the same period to net migration (those fleeing for greener pastures minus those motoring up the Alaska-Canada Highway with hope in their hearts.) The Great Land may be vast, but its human capital is sized for a town. Move every current resident to a single location, and we would collectively rival Charlotte, N.C., in raw people power, according to 2009 city estimates. Seventeen other American cities were home to more people than Alaska, as were 85 counties and 46 states. Only Wyoming, Vermont and North Dakota reported fewer residents. To put it another way, Alaska's total population is about the same size as your average Lower 48 congressional district — of which there were 18 shoehorned into Los Angeles County this past election. Alaskans as a group comprised about 0.23 percent of the 308,745,538 million people counted in the United States.
Posted 8 January 2011; 6:37:15 PM. Permalink
(Jim Bell/Nunatsiaq News, 7 January 2011) -- Like bombs left over from a bygone war, the blunders of the pre-division planning period still blow up in the faces of Nunavut public officials. The latest is a big one: the Qulliq Energy Corp.’s aging collection of diesel-powered electrical generating plants, many of which are long overdue for replacement — and no one knows how to pay for it all. Peter Mackey, the president of QEC, told a public hearing of the Utility Rates Review Commission in Iqaluit Jan. 6 that rapid population growth and more building projects in many communities mean those plants are “being stressed to the point of failure.” He said at least six power plants in Nunavut, all between 40 and 50 years old, should have been replaced by now. For another 11 plants, built 30 to 40 years ago, the QEC should now be developing plans to design replacements and procure what’s needed to build them, Mackey said. The worst-off region is the Kitikmeot, where the average age of a power plant is 38 years. Cambridge Bay’s old plant is 44 years old, meaning that if the QEC had the money, they would replace it immediately. But since 1999, the QEC as been able to build only one new power plant in Nunavut, at Baker Lake. “It’s been 10 years since we built a new power plant. We have 25 power plants. If we take 10 years between building new power plants, it means each power plant should last 250 years,” Mackey said in an interview with Nunatsiaq News last November.
Posted 8 January 2011; 3:40:41 PM. Permalink
(Siku Circumpolar News, 25 October 2010) -- The Alaska Federation of Natives meets this past week to discuss the
problems and challenges of rural life in Alaska, including domestic
violence, subsistence laws, suicide rates and substance abuse. Delegates to this year's Alaska Federation of Natives convention in Fairbanks tackled the problems and challenges of rural life in Alaska, including domestic violence, subsistence laws, suicide rates and substance abuse. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported a federation convention more than three decades ago carried a similar theme, but the prospect of "village survival" then held a strong thread of doubt, former state Sen. Georgianna Lincoln said. "Thirty-four years later, at this convention, we put an exclamation point on the end of that theme," said Lincoln, who represented the rural Interior in the state Senate. "We know our villages can survive, we know our villages have and will survive. We know, and we've known all along, our villages and our people are resilient survivors." At the convention, which attracts Alaska Natives from across the state, some weighed in at open microphones. Some suggestions were specific, such a request that Native communities do more to protect ground fish fisheries in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea from commercial trawling; a 1998 bill that slashed state aid for any public school that saw enrollment dip below 10 students; and improved telecommunication infrastructure to help communities keep up with a quickly changing world. The keynote speaker, Gloria O'Neill, said Alaska Natives have survived disease, displacement, discriminatory policies and life in a demanding physical environment. O'Neill said she senses public leaders are poised to tackle another challenge: education. People who thrive, she said in an interview, are those that both stay in touch with their respective cultures while adapting to succeed in contemporary economies. "We've really got to invest in our young people," she said.
Posted 18 December 2010; 9:20:57 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 3 December 2010) -- Nalcor is going to run fibre optic cables into Labrador as part of its Lower Churchill hydroelectric project, CBC News has learned. Right now the data network in Labrador is limited. It's impossible to get a home internet connection from Bell Aliant or Eastlink in several communities. Bell Aliant's microwave towers can only receive a limited amount of data and, right now, it's the main way information travels out of Labrador. That will end if Nalcor — a Newfoundland-and-Labrador-owned power company, which is building transmission lines to bring Lower Churchill power out of Labrador — also lays fiber-optic line that could bring data into Labrador. Fiber optic cables can move much more data than the existing microwave towers. CBC News has learned that Nalcor will use some of this capacity. The rest will be for sale to companies like Bell Aliant. Nalcor's transmission lines are scheduled to be in place in 2016.
Posted 5 December 2010; 12:12:38 AM. Permalink
(Libby Casey, APRN, 2 December 2010) -- Washington DC - The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge turns 50 on Monday, and conservationists are using the anniversary to call for stronger protections. They want President Obama to declare “monument status” for the Refuge – a move that would beef up its protections without having to get congressional approval. It wouldn’t carry the same weight as “wilderness status,” but would block most forms of development. The President of the Wilderness Society, Bill Meadows, says getting the President to designate it a monument area has a better chance than being protected by Congress. With the House shifting to Republican control in the New Year, there’s zero likelihood of seeing Congress pass stronger protections in the next two years, a reality Meadows admits. Thursday morning, outside the U.S. Capitol Building, Refuge advocates gathered to mark the approaching anniversary, including Sarah James with the Gwich’in Steering Committee, who traveled from Arctic Village. James has been working to protect the Refuge for decades and has appeared at dozens of similar events, but says she new motivation after the April BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Last month 25 Senators sent a letter to President Obama calling for stepped-up protection. More than 50 House members signed on to a similar letter this fall, including Washington State Congressman Jay Inslee. He says the most viable way to boost protection is through the White House.
Posted 3 December 2010; 4:39:58 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 22 November 2010) -- The Grey Nuns of Montreal are leaving the Northwest Territories after serving in churches, hospitals and schools across the territory for 143 years. The Quebec-based Roman Catholic order, founded by Ste. Marguerite d'Youville in 1737, set up its first N.W.T. mission in 1867 in Fort Providence. Sister Dora Durand, the last Grey Nun in the N.W.T., is moving to Edmonton at the end of the month to work at Villa Marguerite, an assisted-living facility. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith held a farewell dinner Sunday for Durand, 76, who has been working at the Trappers Lake Spirituality Centre near Yellowknife since 1992. "It's not easy to leave the North when you get to know the North and love the North, but I think it's a time now to leave," Durand told CBC News. Durand has been based in the N.W.T. since 1980, working in Inuvik and Fort Smith as well as Yellowknife. At the Trappers Lake Spirituality Centre, she took on a variety of hospitality roles — "cooking, cleaning, feeding, wishing goodbyes and hellos," she said. A couple have moved to the N.W.T. to take over operations at the centre. "Old age is creeping up, even though I don't look very old," Durand said with a laugh. "Of course, I was called to go back to Edmonton, so I have to follow the call."
Posted 22 November 2010; 8:04:59 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
(Jim Bell/Nunatsiaq News, 19 November 2010) -- The Canadian North airline strongly supports the federal government’s new Nutrition North Canada program because it forces airlines to compete with one another for subsidized nutritious food freight, Tracy Medve, the airline’s president, said Nov. 17 before the House of Commons northern development committee. “No longer will the government be in the business of tilting the balance of competitive power in favour of one carrier over another,” Medve told MPs in her opening statement. She also said Nutrition North, which will replace the old food mail program on April 1, 2011, is superior to the old scheme in many ways. These include a tight focus on perishable, nutritious foods, more efficiency through the elimination of mandatory entry points, more transparency and more accountability for food quality. “Our shareholders need this program to ensure they can feed themselves and their families in a healthy and affordable way. We believe Nutrition North will meet this need in a meaningful and sustainable manner,” she said. She also pointed to an INAC study that found only 62 cents of every dollar spent on the food mail program actually reached consumers. “We believe Nutrition North Canada will ensure that the people for whom the subsidy is destined get every dollar of benefit possible,” Medve said.
Posted 20 November 2010; 7:57:56 PM. Permalink
(Jane George/Nunatsiaq News, 10 November 2010) -- When Olivia Ikey Duncan spoke to visiting Parti Québécois politicians Nov. 8 in Kuujjuaq, she felt sweaty and nauseous: the 21-year-old Kuujjuaq woman isn’t used to public speaking. But Ikey Duncan overcame her fear because she wanted to tell the group from Quebec City, which included PQ leader Pauline Marois, Ungava MNA Luc Ferland and the party’s native affairs critic Alexandre Cloutier, how Nunavik’s lack of housing affects youth like her. When Ikey Duncan attended college in Montreal, she shared an apartment there with a roommate. “It was amazing, having your own kitchen. You can be a mess when you want to,” she told Nunatsiaq News. But now Ikey Duncan is back in Kuujjuaq where doesn’t have a home to call her own. Ikey Duncan first put her name on a waiting list for social housing in Kuujjuaq when she was 17. Then, earlier this year, when social housing officials decided to update the list of residents seeking social housing, she re-did her application, and returned it promptly to the Kativik Municipal Housing Bureau. But Ikey Duncan learned that she has little chance to ever get a unit because she doesn’t have any kids and the allocation of social housing in Nunavik is based on a point system, which favours people with children. ... The KMHB 2010 housing needs survey says Nunavik needs more than 1,000 one-bedroom units — the kind youth want — but these are also the least economic units to build, the study notes. Kuujjuaq’s social housing stock includes only 36 one-bedroom units. A friend who is 30 just got a small social housing unit after 12 years on the list — but Duncan says she won’t wait that long — “another nine years!” The departure of youth like Ikey Duncan may will start a brain drain from Nunavik, leaving organizations like Makivik Corp. with fewer educated Inuit to take over. “They’ll be left with all the people who dropped out, had kids and got housing,” she said.
Posted 11 November 2010; 9:22:18 PM. Permalink
(Jane George/Nunatsiaq News, 9 November 2010) -- When Jan-Erik Henriksen and Nina Hermansen, Saami from northern Norway, went ice fishing with Anna Kaotalok, Jerry Puglik, Doug Crossley and David Omilgoitok at Kitigak Lake near Cambridge Bay earlier this month, the two Saami found the excursion familiar — but also different from what they’re used to back home. First, the fishing was different because the lake fish were much larger than in Norway, the two Saami said. Secondly, the weather was much colder than they see in northern Norway at this time of year. And you wouldn’t see a herd of muskox wander by back home, either, Henriksen and Hermansen said. But, at the same time, jigging through the ice felt familiar to them, because Saami also survived for thousands of years by fishing — and herding reindeer — in the Arctic regions of northern Europe. Henriksen and Hermansen, who teach at Finnmark University College in Alta, Norway, arrived in Cambridge Bay on Oct. 27 to learn more about Nunavut and Nunavut Arctic College’s programs. Finnmark University College offers bachelor of arts degrees in social work and a masters degree in social work through UArctic, whose north2north exchange program, along with Norway’s Saami parliament, sponsored the two instructors’ trip of one week in Cambridge Bay and another week in Yellowknife. During a visit to one of the community’s schools, where Henriksen gave a presentation about Saami, he was reminded of his own youth in the 1970s when none of his teachers were Saami — a situation that has now changed, he said. Today in Norway, home to about 80,000 Saami, there are Saami teachers, social workers, doctors, nurses, dentists and other professionals.
Posted 11 November 2010; 3:50:50 PM. Permalink
(Canadian Medical Association Journal press release via Physorg.com, 1 November 2010) -- To improve health care in Canada's north, Canada would benefit from enhanced relationships with other circumpolar regions, states an analysis published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal). The article looks at health and health care in Canada's north from a broader perspective across the circumpolar region which includes Alaska in the US, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Greenland and others. Significant inequities in health care exist across circumpolar countries, where some such as Scandinavian nations have healthy populations in the north while others, like Nunavut in Canada's north and Alaska, have lower health outcomes despite high health expenditures. Per capita health expenditures in Nunavut are the highest in the world, with almost 30% of the territory's GDP going to health care expenditures. "The current prominence of Arctic issues provides a window of opportunity for Canadian health policy-makers, service providers and researchers to strengthen circumpolar collaboration and partnerships, analyze our commonalities and differences, and adopt best practices to improve our northern health care system and the health of the population," writes Dr. T. Kue Young from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, and Susan Chatwood, the Institute for Circumpolar Health Research in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.
Posted 1 November 2010; 11:25:20 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 1 November 2010) -- About half of Nunavut's homes are overcrowded or need serious repair, while four per cent of the population does not have a permanent home, according to the territory's first housing needs survey. The survey, undertaken by Statistics Canada for the Nunavut Housing Corp., found 49 per cent of homes in Nunavut need major repairs and-or have two or more people living in each room. Just over half of Nunavut's occupied dwellings are public housing units managed by the housing corporation. The survey found 49 per cent of public housing dwellings are crowded, 26 per cent needed major repairs and 12 per cent needed both. The median number of people in crowded homes is six, with 53 per cent of survey respondents saying they use the living room as a place to sleep. A small proportion of people also said they have slept in kitchens, dining rooms or hallways, according to the survey.
Posted 1 November 2010; 11:13:34 AM. Permalink
(Eye on the Arctic, 29 October 2010) -- Since the European Union voted to ban seal products, the North American seal market has collapsed hitting Canadian Inuit communities hard – both economically and emotionally. A legal challenge filed by Inuit leaders delayed the ban for about two months, but on October 28th, the EU Court declared the ban final. (Story updated from original publication April 2010). See also VIDEO: Seal Ban: The Inuit Impact. The ban on seal products was passed in the European Parliament last spring by a vote of 550 to 49. It was adopted following a relentless campaign by animal welfare activists who opposed the commercial seal hunt, calling it inhumane. While the EU ban makes a partial exemption for seal products obtained through the Inuit subsistence hunt, Inuit sealers say the exemption makes little sense, as the ban has completely devastated the seal product market. "Back in 1983 the Europeans placed a ban on baby harp seals and at that time we were told that the Inuit would be exempt from the ban. However, when the seal market collapsed, even though there was an exemption for the Inuit, the Inuit suffered," Nunavut Deputy Minister Simon Awa said. "It's getting more and more difficult for a hunter to put food on the table." A coalition of organizations, including hunter and trapper organizations, the Inuit Circumpolar Council (Greenland) and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (representing Nunatsiavut, Nunavik, Nunavut, and the Inuvialuit Settlement – 53,000 Inuit) were involved in a court challenge on the ban. They say there is no environmental justification for the trade ban, that seal populations are being harvested at reasonable levels, and their hunting practices are humane. The EU court imposed a temporary suspension on the ban while they reviewed the challenge, but it was officially reinstated October 28th. Canada's Inuit and the fur industry will appeal the EU court ruling. "I am disappointed and angered that the suspension of the ban has been lifted, now that the judge has had ample time since Aug. 19 to properly consider this immoral legislation," said Mary Simon, president of Canada's national Inuit organization, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, in a news release. "We plan to appeal the ruling as we believe the original seal ban was based on colonial perceptions of our sealing practices, and this week's ruling is a perfect illustration of this." Meantime, the Canadian government is planning to challenge the ban before the World Trade Organization, saying the ban is based on false information and violates trade obligations. The Inuit subsistence seal hunt differs from the commercial hunt that has drawn the ire of animal rights activists. Unlike Atlantic coast fishermen who hunt harp seals to supply tanneries with skins and pharmaceutical companies with Omega-3-fatty-acid-rich blubber, the Inuit hunt ringed seals to feed their communities. The hunting methods are different as well. Inuit hunters mostly use high-powered rifles, not clubs, to kill the seals. The skins have always been a by-product of the hunt, while providing a much-needed source of income. ... In a climate where the ground is covered in snow for 10 months of the year, livestock farming and agriculture are impossible. For the Inuit, the hunt is a way of life; a cultural mainstay, a way of living sustainably, and ultimately, of surviving. The Inuit harvest resources that the land and water provide. They rely heavily upon the seal.
Posted 29 October 2010; 4:33:35 PM. Permalink
(YLE, 17 October 2010) -- Winter speed limits started coming into effect Monday on some 9,000 kilometres of Finnish roads. Lower limits are aimed at improving traffic safety. It is estimated that at summer speeds, shorter, darker days would double the number of accidents, and slippery roads would contribute to many more. Lower speed limits are being posted, starting this week in the north, and will gradually be implemented in central and southern regions by no later than Friday the 22nd. Reduced speed limits will remain in force until late March or early April. During winter months, the legal top speed on highways is 100 kilometres per hour and on most other roads, with some exceptions, 80 kilometres per hour.
Posted 18 October 2010; 5:15:34 PM. Permalink
(AP via Yahoo!, 15 October 2010) -- CAPE DORSET, Nunavut - Four RCMP officers from a remote northern community are getting counselling after several shootings, including one in which a bullet tore through one of their homes. Five new officers have replaced the four that were removed from the detachment at Cape Dorset, Nunavut, on the southern end of Baffin Island. Chief Supt. Steve McVarnock says the officers left for a "health services debriefing." McVarnock says that in the last six months there have been six standoffs involving gunfire in the community of about 1,200. Murder charges have been laid in two of the standoffs.
Posted 15 October 2010; 1:39:41 PM. Permalink
(YLE, 12 October 2010) -- The town of Kajaani in central Finland has seen a rush of people wanting to change over to winter tyres. Some drivers have been forced to wait until next week to book a time at a garage. The demand for the changeover to winter tyres first began at the end of last week. However the real rush got underway on Monday. Studded tyres remain the first choice for most drivers.
Posted 12 October 2010; 2:36:19 PM. Permalink
(Norwegian Barents Secretariat via BarentsObserver, 7 October 2010) -- Nenets Autonomous Okrug has among the youngest population in North-West Russia. The explanation of the Nenets phenomenon is high birth rate and migration of old people to warmer places. The share of population under working age in Nenets Autonomous Okrug (NAO) is 22.4 percent. This is the highest figure in the North-West federal district of Russia. In Karelia, for example, the share of population under 18 years old is only 15.7 percent, in Murmansk region it is a little more – 15.8 percent, in Komi - 17.5 percent and in Arkhangelsk region altogether 16.6 percent. Also in NAO there are less old people – inhabitants over active working age – than elsewhere; only 13.9 percent. In Karelia there are by 7 percent more senior citizens. In Murmansk region the share of people over active working age is 16.8 percent, in Komi – 16.4 percent and in the Arkhangelsk region – 20.6 percent. This situation can be explained by stable rise of the birth rate in Nenets: 587 people in 2006, 653 in 2007, 691 in 2008 and 695 in 2009. In course of the 8 first months of 2010 already 495 babies have been born in NAO, that is 24 people more than during the same period last year. The same tendency is in Arkhangelsk and Murmansk regions: rise of birth rate in January-August this year is by 6 and 97 people correspondingly as compared to the same period last year. However, in Komi and Karelia Republics correspondingly 66 and 35 babies less have been born this year compared to January-August 2009. The small number of people over active working age in NAO is accounted for by the fact that internal migration is directed from the North and the East to the central part of the country, i.e., some people move to places with more comfortable climatic conditions in other Russian regions and also within the North-West federal district after retirement. This is proved by the dynamics of the number of people who have been leaving NAO over the recent years: the figure has been growing by about 100 people every year over the last three years (593 people in 2007, 698 in 2008, 788 in 2009).
Posted 8 October 2010; 2:20:52 PM. Permalink
(Nunatsiaq News, 6 October 2010) -- If you live in Canada’s North, you are far more likely than someone in the South to be living in a house that is in need of major repairs, says the Conference Board of Canada in an Oct. 6 release. According to Statistics Canada’s 2006 census data, the proportion of residences that need repairs in every northern region in is higher than in the South. In every province with a northern region, the single census division with the highest percentage of houses in need of major repairs is in the northern part of that province. As well, all three territories have a higher proportion of homes requiring major repairs than even the worst-performing province. In Nunavut’s Kitikmeot and Kivalliq regions, about one in four homes needs repairs. In Nunavik, about one in five homes need repairs. Produced by the Conference Board of Canada’s Centre for the North, this map is part of a series of maps. It’s designed to illustrate similarities and differences between Canada’s North and South, and between northern regions, and to provide policy-directed research to decision makers.
Posted 6 October 2010; 3:27:57 PM. Permalink
(Doug Saunders, Globe and Mail, 2 October 2010) -- Nuuk, Greenland - On a sunny day, the capital of Greenland is a place of elegant beauty, its brightly painted clapboard houses scattered along the boreal shoreline, rising to a broad boulevard of chic Scandinavian buildings, shops and apartments – as if a prosperous maritime Inuit settlement had been redesigned by Ikea. Such sunny days have lately become increasingly common in Nuuk, whose 15,000 people represent a quarter of Greenland’s population, most of the rest scattered in tiny villages along a vast, roadless shoreline that encircles the ice sheet covering most of this semi-independent country. That sheet, three kilometres thick at its centre, is melting fast, as are the ice fields that surround Greenland’s north. To the rest of the world, that melting appears to be the greatest problem of our century, begetting rising ocean levels, weather volatility, reduced growing seasons and fears of famine in the central and southern portions of the globe. But to the mainly Inuit people of Greenland, global warming is a gift from the heavens, and not just for the obvious reason. These children of hunters and fishermen have, for much of the past century, lived a version of the humiliating life of dependence that has befallen most of the ex-nomadic peoples of the world, struggling to hold on to traditions while living in enforced and subsidized marginality. The retreating ice is salvation: It opens fields of treasure and promises to end that humiliation. Among the many troubled ex-nomads of the world, the Inuit of Greenland have the atmosphere on their side.
Posted 3 October 2010; 3:55:35 PM. Permalink
(Rajesh Mirchandani/BBC News, 22 September 2010) -- Hudson Bay - Canada is staking its claim to Arctic waterways and mineral resources — as are Russia, the US, Norway and other regional powers. All are meeting in Moscow this week in an attempt to head off an international dispute. Just before midnight and in the cold of approaching winter, we boarded the Hudson Bay Explorer in the Arctic port of Churchill. Tethered to our 110ft tug by a heavy steel cable was an enormous barge, laden with vehicles, construction materials, even a metal shed. We were to tow this north towards the Arctic Ocean and to the isolated communities that live along the western shore of the Hudson Bay. It's a landscape of tundra, inaccessible by roads: ships like this are a lifeline for Canada's remote north. As we ploughed through the inky night in our small tug, I rolled around in a top bunk to the sound of engines churning. ... "Global warming is going to change the face of the north," Captain Richard Lambert told me on the bridge of the Hudson Bay Explorer. He has nearly 40 years experience in this business, and he predicts upheaval. "The tug and barge industry will be reduced because larger ships can come and they will bring more cargo in bulk," he said, "Ships are going to be able to leave Atlantic Canada and go to the Pacific coast through the north, which they could never do before. The Northwest Passage was open last year. A couple of tugs did get through." The Northwest Passage is the holy grail for shipping.
Posted 26 September 2010; 9:44:09 PM. Permalink
(Nunatsiaq News, 24 September 2010) -- The title of the map “Sleeping on the Couch” may sound almost whimsical, says the Conference Board of Canada, but the reality of overcrowded housing in Canada’s North is no laughing matter. Virtually all social and health problems increase dramatically when combined with overcrowded housing, says the organization in a Sept. 24 news release. “Almost all social and health problems increase dramatically when combined with overcrowded housing,” said Gilles Rhéaume, the Conference Board’s vice-president for public policy. “Crowded housing is an issue that clearly demonstrates a north-south divide in Canada.” In Statistics Canada’s Keewatin census division, which covers the Kivalliq region in Nunavut, 25 per cent of homes have six or more people living in them — the highest percentage of overcrowding in Canada. Close behind are regions in five provinces which also have census divisions showing that 10 per cent or more of the homes are overcrowded.
Posted 26 September 2010; 5:12:22 PM. Permalink
(Siku Circumpolar News, 18 September 2010) -- Greenland's welfare level has risen, but it's led to greater inequality in the distribution of goods and opportunities among the population, Greenland's premier Kuupik Kleist told the parliament in Nuuk when it started its autumn session on Sept. 17. A showdown to end inequities of society was the main thread throughout Kleist's opening speech, reports Sermitsiaq. Kleist announced a campaign on all fronts with the goal of closing the gap between rich and poor. And the government plans to measure these inequalities not only in terms of money, but also with respect to access to a safe childhood, a good education and a healthy and meaningful life. Reform is necessary, Kleist said. "We cannot continue as before. The status quo is not an option," he said. September 21 will be devoted to a formal debate on the issue.
Posted 20 September 2010; 4:52:13 PM. Permalink
(Iceland Review, 22 August 2010) -- A new tunnel between Ólafsfjördur and Siglufjördur will
be opened shortly and to mark the occasion keen knitters in the region
are making a 17-kilometer long scarf to connect the towns through the
tunnel in a warm manner. The initiative was launched by Frída Björk Gylfadóttir. So far 500 knitters have joined her and she is expecting even more. “New people keep signing up,” she told Morgunbladid. “We have 7.4 kilometers and both women and men are knitting. The youngest knitter, Haukur Orri Kristinsson, is ten years old and the oldest knitter is 94-year-old Nanna Franklínsdóttir,” Gylfadóttir added. Once the scarf has been completed and the tunnel inaugurated, the plan is to cut the scarf up into appropriate lengths and sell them in support of charities. When asked where all the yarn comes from, Gylfadóttir explained that wool producer Ístex has given them a generous discount but people are also efficient in using scrap yarn. “I have also received financial contributions from here and there,” she said, adding that yarn has also been sent to her from all around Iceland and even from abroad, from countries such as Denmark, Sweden, Norway, the US, Estonia and Germany. Those who are interested in monitoring the knitters’ progress can find further information on Gylfadóttir’s website, frida.is.
Posted 22 August 2010; 12:52:33 PM. Permalink
(Matt Cole/BBC News, 22 August 2010) -- It has been a long hard year for those living beneath the crater of Eyjafjallajokull in Iceland. When the volcano erupted in March, air passengers faced chaos as their planes were grounded amid fears that the ash, thrown high into the atmosphere, would damage aircraft. But after little more than two weeks, and a safety all-clear, life started returning to normal for airlines and their customers. The people of Iceland living near the eruption site were not so lucky. The region of south Iceland where Eyjafjallajokull is situated has a significant farming industry. Floods, caused by lava melting glacial ice, swept down the side of the volcano and ruined farmland. Sixty hectares of the property Poula Kristin Buch farms with her husband was wiped away by the water. "When the flood came over our land, 10 years of our work just went away in a second. "Our crops were destroyed and it will take two years to get our fields ploughed properly again and ready for planting," she added. ... On her return, Poula and her husband, Sigurdur Thorhallsson, found their whole property covered in ash. They were not alone: all life in the region was smothered by a thick grey and black carpet of choking, clogging dust. Weeks of hard work has cleared most of the ash, but the dust has left a legacy, Ms Bush says. All her cattle have had to spend the summer in a barn. Sharp ash particles, harmful to cows' teeth, lie hidden in the grass, making it impossible to put the animals out to pasture. Iceland's government is giving financial help to farmers. But the emotional cost of the damage to farms, where some have toiled their whole lives, is not something on which a price can be put. ... But now, quite literally from the ashes, there is hope of a dramatic reversal of fortune for the tourism industry. After scaring them away, Eyjafjallajokull is now drawing growing numbers of tourists to its still-settling landscape. Mr Hauksson says that the volcano has become an "attraction".
Posted 22 August 2010; 11:55:23 AM. Permalink
(Canadian Press via Winnipeg Free Press, 18 August 2010) -- INUKJUAK, Que. - Larry Audlalak wasn't quite three years old when his family finally gave in to the insistent promises of the RCMP officer and left their comfortable lands along Hudson Bay's northern coast for the frigid unknown of the High Arctic. The memory is with him yet. "It was very bad," said Audlalak, one of the surviving "High Arctic Exiles" to whom the federal government finally apologized Wednesday. "It was very cold, we had no shelter. We had to fend for ourselves for the first two years living in tents. "The RCMP were able to give us some old buffalo hides and some reindeer hides for insulation." Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs John Duncan travelled to Inukjuak in northern Quebec to say 'sorry' to Audlalak and others like him for a policy some say was a move to reduce welfare costs and reinforce Canadian sovereignty. "We would like to express our deepest sorrow for the extreme hardship and suffering caused by the relocation," reads the text of his speech. "The Government of Canada deeply regrets the mistakes and broken promises of this dark chapter of our history and apologizes for the High Arctic relocation having taken place." In 1953 and 1956, 87 Inuit from 19 families were moved 2,000 kilometres from the relatively warm and lush environs of Inukjuak to what is now Resolute and Grise Fiord, the two most northerly communities in Canada.
Posted 21 August 2010; 10:05:40 PM. Permalink
(Voice of Russia, 21 August 2010) -- A thousand kilometers north of Moscow on the White Sea coast lies an ancient land belonging to a sea-conquering people – the Pomors. The so-called “traditional Pomor way of life” is certainly not just something out of a history book. They still construct wooden boats using old techniques, make their own fish nets and braid the ropes used for those fish nets with their own hands. “This is a karbass, a coastal kind of boat,” explains boat builder Viktor Zamyatin. “It's very stable on seas, rising and falling smoothly with the waves.” In the village of Patrekeevaka the houses are unique, dating back 300 years, and are very well preserved. All of them have a big fireplace which they use not only for cooking and baking. On top of it there is a warm bed – something you cannot do without in during the harsh winter conditions. For the Pomors, adapting to whatever Mother Nature throws at them has become second nature. This resilience is also what has kept their culture alive throughout the centuries. “I have been singing my whole life. My mother still sings. We collect old rituals and songs and revive them,” says local resident Maria Gorobtsova. She is wearing a traditional costume. It is certainly not an everyday outfit, but she says it helps her keep her ties with her people. “This dress belonged to my grandmother. When I put on this dress, I feel very good and have this desire to sing old songs.” A desire she hopes to pass on to her young grandson.
Posted 21 August 2010; 8:19:58 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
(Jamie Hanlon/University of Alberta ExpressNews, 23 July 2010) -- (Edmonton) Abandoned houses strewn across a once-populated northern region, the victim of shifting political and economic conditions, left by many of the North’s former inhabitants who have migrated to more prosperous regions. While the narrative would seem to fit parts of northern Canada, the scene is also descriptive of Magadan, a city in northeast Russia. Magadan is the focus of a project being conducted by Elena Khlinovskaya-Rockhill of the University of Alberta’s Canadian Circumpolar Institute. ... Khlinovskaya-Rockhill also worked in collaboration with two Magadan photographers, Pavel Zhdanov and Andrei Osipov, along with Lawrence Khlinovski-Rockhill, a visiting scholar at CCI, to capture photos of the devastation, but also the resilience and determination of the region’s remaining inhabitants. Images from this collaboration are now on at the Rutherford Library until July 31. This exhibit is part of the Canadian Circumpolar Institute’s 50th anniversary celebration. In October 2010, the display will be moved to Cameron Library. A thriving town during the Soviet era, Magadan’s population once grew due to state-funded migration and settlement allowances, said Khlinovskaya-Rockhill. The Soviet Union used a variety of monetary and non-monetary incentives to attract people to the region, she notes. ... However, she explained, in post-Soviet times, state funding cuts resulted in an unprecedented outmigration towards western Russia. ... Yet, an interesting phenomenon that is part of Khlinovskaya-Rockhill’s research, and is evident in the photo exhibit itself, is the spirit and resilience of the people of Magadan, indigenous and non-native, who have remained. Many prosper, despite the lack of any substantial state support or economic stimulation. The transplanted citizens have developed a level of attachment to the area, and their desire to remain is no longer influenced by state-induced incentives, monetary or ideological. “This is not where they were born, it’s not where they thought they would retire. But for a whole set of reasons, they still remain,” she said. “Some of them consider that place to be their home.”
Posted 27 July 2010; 3:34:36 PM. Permalink
(The Canadian Press via CTV, 20 June 2010) -- MONTREAL — An Arctic community that has seen its fire hall sink and roads buckle in the melting permafrost is now shifting future building projects away from town. The effect of vanishing permafrost -- soil normally frozen year round -- is now being felt across Canada's North, and the Quebec village of Salluit is just one of many Arctic towns trying to adapt to an increasingly warmer climate. Rising temperatures are being blamed for natural disturbances in the North, such as the rapidly eroding coastline of Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., and unprecedented floods that knocked out two bridges in Pangnirtung, Nunavut. Salluit even considered relocating the whole town. One of Quebec's northernmost communities, Salluit saw its local fire station sink into the softening ground a year after it opened. Across town, paved roads have crumpled, foundations of buildings have cracked and now even summertime grave-digging isn't what it used to be. A few years ago, it took considerable effort just to dig a foot into what was once ice-solid earth, says one resident of the Nunavik village. "We used to need hammers and all that because it was frozen solid all the way through," said Noah Tayara, a local representative for Makivik Corp., northern Quebec's governing body. "(Today), we don't need those. We can shovel to six feet without having to go through the permafrost." For years, the people of Salluit, shielded by a bunker-like valley on Sugluk Inlet off the Hudson Strait, faced the prospect of uprooting their town to move away from the defrosting turf. Following two years of scientific studies, experts have concluded the village can stay put. But the community's much-needed expansion will have to go elsewhere and follow specific construction guidelines. "We can safely say that there's no relocation of houses that are sitting permanently right now," said Michael Cameron, a Salluit municipal councillor. Instead, he said the village hopes to secure government funding to build up to 500 two-bedroom homes at several chosen sites within a few kilometres of the community. Cameron noted the shift to outlying areas is partly due to a lack of space in the town of 1,100. The new housing developments, which aim to ease overcrowding that often sees three generations living under one roof, will be constructed in sturdier areas that feature a mix of bedrock, clay, sand, gravel and permafrost. The plans were presented at a public meeting two weeks ago, helping calm fears the town was under the threat of mudslides. "There is permafrost beneath us and it's changing, but they said it's not so big a problem that we would . . . suffer a landslide into the sea," said Paul Okituk, general manager of Qaqqalik Landholding Corp. in Salluit.
Posted 22 June 2010; 7:54:39 PM. Permalink
(IceNews, 21 June 2010) -- Greenland’s government is to receive a cash injection from the European Union to help support training efforts. The subsidy of 200 million kroner (USD 33 million) will be given to the country every year until 2013 to help boost Greenland’s educational facilities. Greenland must produce reports explaining how the money is being used and the results of training in exchange for a cut of the cash. The current EU-Greenland partnership is to be evaluated and renegotiated next year, when a new agreement for the period of 2014 to 2020 will be reached. Last year, the country achieved 97 percent of stated objectives and received almost 100 percent of the 200 million kroner kitty. The money makes a big different to Greenland and its annual budget, according to Siku News. Along with the fisheries agreement, the EU assistance sees around 320 million kroner (USD 52 million) pumped into to Greenland each year. This amounts to around 5.3 percent of the government’s total revenues for 2010. A spokesperson for the EU said the money was offered “to support Greenland’s exceptional education efforts.”
Posted 22 June 2010; 7:47:56 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 18 June 2010) -- A national group is urging Prime Minister Stephen Harper to protect Nunavut's Lancaster Sound from any oil and gas activity, including federal scientists' plans to conduct seismic testing there. The Pew Environment Group's Oceans North Canada says 6,500 concerned Canadians have signed a letter opposing the seismic testing plans, which Natural Resources Canada wants to begin this summer. The letter was delivered Friday, Oceans North said in a release. The seismic tests, which federal scientists hope to start in August, would be an attempt to map out underwater geographical features and see what hydrocarbon resources exist there. As part of the project, a research vessel would send sound waves though several Arctic waterways, including Lancaster Sound. The federal government is also thinking of designating Lancaster Sound — which is home to whales, seabirds and other animals — as a national marine conservation area. Parks Canada is working with the Qikiqtani Inuit Association and the Nunavut government on a feasibility study. Last month, the Nunavut Impact Review Board, a regulatory body, recommended that the seismic testing project proceed without a detailed environmental review. But Nunavut Environment Minister Daniel Shewchuk, in his role as the minister responsible for the Nunavut Research Institute, has not confirmed whether he will give the project a research licence. Inuit in communities near Lancaster Sound expressed concerns about the seismic tests' impacts on marine wildlife during a series of community consultations that Natural Resources Canada held earlier this month. "Inuit who live near Lancaster Sound told federal officials they are opposed to the seismic testing because it poses risks to bowhead whales, narwhal and other marine mammals," Oceans North said in a release. "Seismic blasts can damage the hearing of marine mammals and disrupt their migration patterns," it added. Some Inuit have also raised fears that seismic tests could uncover oil and gas resources in Lancaster Sound, which could motivate exploration companies to drill there. Federal scientists stressed that the seismic testing will not harm marine animals, nor will it be exploring for oil and gas.
Posted 22 June 2010; 7:11:38 PM. Permalink
(Jane George/Nunatsiaq News, 20 May 2010) -- QUEBEC CITY - Many of the 280,000 indigenous peoples of Russia’s north are watching their communities and cultures teeter on the brink of extinction as economic hardships force them to leave their homelands and migrate in droves to the city. Many of those who remain behind have abandoned traditional values and become “profit-driven in their search for compensation for their traditional lands,” Larissa Abryutina of the Russian Association of the Indigenous People of the North said May 18 in a presentation to a conference at Laval University on sustainable development and sovereignty in the Arctic. Like other speakers, Abryutina revealed a striking irony: that it’s much easier to find bad examples of development and self-determination in the Arctic than good ones. Abryutina, a Chukchi, is herself a casualty of the desperate choices facing northern Russian indigenous people: a doctor of radiology, she left her home region of Chukotka due to its declining standard of living. Since the 1990s, and the fall of the Soviet Union’s Communist government, things have gone from bad to worse for northern indigenous people in Russia, Abryutina said. And their life expectancy has fallen to between 40 and 45 years due to the environmental pollution, alcoholism and poor health care.
Posted 21 May 2010; 1:52:29 PM. Permalink
(Indian and Northern Affairs Canada press release, 21 May 2010) -- A new northern food retail subsidy program called Nutrition North Canada will make healthy food more accessible and affordable to Canadians living in isolated Northern communities, thanks to the Government of Canada. Nutrition North Canada, which replaces the Food Mail Program, was announced today by the Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, and Minister for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health and Minister Responsible for the North. Under the new program, the most nutritious perishable foods such as fruits, vegetables, bread, fresh meats, milk and eggs will receive the highest rate of subsidy. The revised list of eligible items also includes a provision to improve access to commercially-produced traditional, Northern foods. Nutrition North Canada, which will benefit people living in eligible communities in the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador, will be implemented in phases. The transition to the new program begins with the release today of a revised eligibility list, which will come into effect on October 3, 2010. Full implementation will occur on April 1, 2011. ... The new program is now a cost-effective, market-driven model to ensure greater efficiency and transparency. The Government of Canada will directly subsidize retailers and wholesalers who already ship large volumes of food and goods to the North. Individuals and institutions will still be able to place personal orders and benefit from the subsidy. This is particularly important for those with special dietary needs, and preserves a measure of competition for Northern retailers. An Advisory Board is being established to give Northerners a direct voice in the program and provide advice related to its management and effectiveness.
Posted 21 May 2010; 11:23:52 AM. Permalink
(Barents Observer, 20 May 2010) -- Two out of three students at the University of Tromsø stay in Northern Norway after graduation, a poll shows. "It is both surprising and joyous that so many find work in the northern parts of the country," says Rector Jarle Aarbakke, according to NRK.no. A poll amongst graduates from the University of Tromsø shows that nine of ten students were in work six months after graduation. Half of the students with Bachelor, Master or Doctoral degrees from 2007 and 2008 are now working in Troms County. 8.5 percent of the students are working in Nordland County and 7.3 percent in Finnmark County. Other studies have showed that eight of ten psychologist and doctors educated at the University in Tromsø are working in one of the country’s three northernmost counties. The main argument for the need to establish a university in Northern Norway was precisely to supply Northern Norway with highly educated workers. The University was founded in 1968 and opened four years later. The University of Tromsø offers studies in medicine, law, psychology, pharmaceutics, dentistry.
Posted 21 May 2010; 11:13:40 AM. Permalink
(Iceland Review News, 17 May 2010) -- Due to constant ash fall on their farm site, Ármann
Fannar Magnússon and Berglind Bjarnadóttir, farmers at Hrútafell in the
Eyjafjöll countryside, moved more than 100 sheep yesterday to a farm
where their relatives live. Other farmers from the region south of the eruption site are considering doing the same, Fréttabladid reports. “It doesn’t appear as if we can let our sheep go outside in the near future and to keep ewes and their lambs inside for a long time creates problems such as sickness and death,” Magnússon told Stöd 2. It is currently lambing season in Iceland and the conditions inside the sheepfold have become rather tight. Magnússon and Bjarnadóttir have lost two lambs and two ewes, possibly because of fluorine poisoning. Magnússon said he is certain that he made the right decision by relocating his sheep. He doesn’t believe it will be possible to practice sheep farming on his farm in the next year or two. “I’m moving the sheep across the risk border so I will have to take them to the slaughterhouse in the fall. I will have to buy new sheep when the land has recovered and the situation improved,” Magnússon said. There are regulations limiting the transport of livestock in Iceland to prevent the spreading of diseases. Safe areas are marked with so-called varnarlína, or risk borders. There are also approximately 100 cattle at Hrútafell but the farmers have yet to decide what to do with them. They might have to relocate their cattle as well. A task force from the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture met last night to discuss the volcanic eruption and its effect on farming in the Eyjafjöll region. Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Jón Bjarnason said regulations on risk borders might be relaxed in light of the circumstances created by ash fall.
Posted 19 May 2010; 10:32:07 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 10 May 2010) -- The federal government is spending $6.9 million to expand a program that trains family doctors for remote northern communities in Manitoba. The money will allow the medical residency program at the University of Manitoba to grow to 25 positions from 10. Medical students in training have to spend eight months in remote communities and commit to at least two years of remote practice after graduation. The expanded program will help address a shortage of northern doctors, said federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, who made the announcement in Winnipeg on Monday as part of National Nursing Week.
Posted 11 May 2010; 9:43:05 AM. Permalink
(William Yardley, 5 May 2010) -- CORDOVA, Alaska - As the oil spill spreads ominously in the Gulf of Mexico, its impact uncertain, communities here beside Prince William Sound are still confronting the consequences of March 24, 1989, the day of the wreck of the Exxon Valdez. The tanker Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil, staining 1,500 miles of coastline, killing hundreds of thousands of seabirds, otters, seals and whales, and devastating local communities. The spill stopped after just a few days. Recovery may not have an end date. Fishing here is far from what it was. Suicides and bankruptcies and bitterness surged. Many people left even as a few became “spillionaires,” getting paid to clean up. A new industry took hold: environmental groups, scientific organizations, experts in the psychological trauma of oil spills. A network of fishermen is now trained and paid by the oil industry to respond if another disaster strikes. Lawyers, fishermen and environmentalists in the gulf are now calling, looking for guidance in areas like how to harness political anger over the spill and the most effective ecological triage. National news crews are chartering planes to nearby islands to see how oil still coats rocks just below the surface all these years later. Fishermen recount once again their complicated journeys from the spill to the payments they received just last year from a punitive damages judgment of about $500 million against Exxon in 1994. People here say they want to move on.
Posted 10 May 2010; 11:48:07 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
(YLE via Siku Circumpolar News, 27 April 2010) -- The city of Oulu is about to get bigger, YLE reports. Oulu, Haukipudas, Oulunsalo, Kiiminki and Yli-Ii decided this week to consolidate into one municipality. The nearby town of Muhos, however, did not join. Representatives from the six towns meet on Tuesday in Yli-Ii to discuss future plans. The new municipality will have over 180,000 residents. It will surpass Turku to become Finland's fifth largest city.
Posted 27 April 2010; 3:24:52 PM. Permalink
NunatsiaqOnline 2010-04-05: NEWS: What the High Arctic exiles signed in 1996 http://bit.ly/9HAOac
NunatsiaqOnline 2010-04-05: NEWS: Background: What’s proposed for the High Arctic exiles fund http://bit.ly/94NtsM
NunatsiaqOnline 2010-04-05: NEWS: Quebec court to ponder big changes to High Arctic exiles’ ailing trust fund http://bit.ly/aS1EKk
Posted 5 April 2010; 12:07:40 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 23 March 2010) -- A Quebec Inuit leader wants the provincial and federal governments to apologize for the slaughter of more than 1,000 sled dogs more than half a century ago. Makivik Corp. president Pita Aatami made the remark after the release of a report from retired Quebec judge Jean-Jacques Croteau, who said Ottawa and Quebec owe the Inuit of northern Quebec — a territory now known as Nunavik — an apology and compensation for turning a blind eye to the mass dog deaths. Croteau's final report, released last week, found that Quebec provincial police shot or gassed more than 1,000 sled dogs in most of Nunavik's 14 communities between 1950 and 1970, without considering their essential role in traditional Inuit lives. Aatami told CBC News he will meet with federal Indian and Northern Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl this week to discuss the report. As well, Makivik officials are making plans with the Quebec government to discuss Croteau's recommendations. "What I've been searching for all these years is an apology," Aatami said Monday. "I hope we're a step closer to getting that apology from the Quebec government, and hopefully the federal government, for the wrong that was done to the Inuit."
Posted 23 March 2010; 11:54:58 AM. Permalink
(Jane George/Nunatsiaq News, 23 March 2010) -- Muskox spaghetti, meatballs, burgers and casseroles are on the menu in many Kitikmeot households this week thanks to a giveaway in the region. Cambridge Bay’s Kitikmeot Food Ltd. gave 350 one-pound packages of federally-inspected ground muskox meat to the Ikaluktutiak wellness centre. And 250 similar packages went to each of the other communities in the Kitikmeot via Canadian North — which picked up the tab for the cargo. A community feast March 20 at the Luke Novoligak centre in Cambridge Bay also featured muskox meatballs with spaghetti sauce and pasta donated by Northbest Distributors in Yellowknife. Students in the cooking program at Nunavut Arctic College cooked and served up the feast. The muskox meat feast and distribution is Kitikmeot Foods’ way of celebrating a successful harvest, said co-manager Monique Giroux. This year from Feb. 22 to March 11, hunters took 158 muskox. That’s about 20 fewer muskox than last year, due to the stormy weather.
Posted 23 March 2010; 11:51:05 AM. Permalink
(Jane George/Nunatsiaq News, 14 March 2010) -- Blackberries and GPS satellite messengers will help keep track of hunters on the land and assist search and rescue teams in Nunavut, said Lorne Kusugak, the minister of community and government services, who announced that all communities will receive 20 Spot satellite GPS messengers each. If a hunter gets into trouble, they can press a button on one of devices, and it will send a message saying if they need help or if they’re okay, Kusugak said in the Nunavut legislature. Spot messengers can also send an SOS message or customized message, and allow contacts to track a user’s location. Messages sent from Spot locations will go to three emergency services officials with Blackberries in Iqaluit, Kusugak said. The messages received on the Blackberries, which combine cell phone and internet technology, will allow officials to contact search and rescue parties to let them know exactly where a message is coming from and what it says, Kusugak said. There will be somebody always assigned to at least one of the Blackberries at any given time, Kusugak said. ... Spot messengers will made available through local search and rescue committees, at their office or the hamlet office, Kusugak said. Hunters will be able sign out Spot messengers and must return them after completion of their hunt so somebody else can use them, Kusugak said.
Posted 15 March 2010; 2:53:10 PM. Permalink
(Stephen Hume/The Vancouver Sun, 15 March 2010) -- In a landscape where the only plants are tundra lichens, a traditional Inuit diet of seal meat, caribou and fish makes more sense than one based on imported fresh fruit and vegetables. But a column arguing as much earned sarcastic scoffing from some vegetarians. I have no quarrel with vegetarians — I happily live with one — and I share the view of many that most arguments supporting the commercial seal hunt in Atlantic Canada are largely bogus. Unless you live in the Arctic, the only reason for wearing sealskin is cosmetic. On that the animal-rights advocates have a strong point — a gruesome slaughter of seals just to provide for fashion elites does seem ethically untenable. However, the consumption of seal meat in the traditional Inuit diet and the sale of pelts from that subsistence hunting is another matter and deserves defending. Among the points made in my original column was an observation that wild meat offered a nutritious bargain to Inuit families. Furthermore, I wrote, a diet rich in sea mammals and fish was healthier than many foods imported from the urban south with their attendant carbon footprint.
Posted 15 March 2010; 2:15:50 PM. Permalink
(True North Gems Apartheid press release via PRWeb, 5 March 2010) -- Nuuk, Greenland - Niels Madsen, a small scale mining activist and one of the founders of
the 16th August Union, a Greenlandic association of small scale miners,
has issued a call to the international community to block the Greenland
Bureau of Minerals and Petroleum’s (BMP) continuing attempt to
disenfranchise Greenlanders from their mineral resources. The BMP has recently revoked communal ownership of the land and its
resources, which were formerly guaranteed under Article 32 of the
Greenlandic Constitution. On March 8th, Greenland’s Manager of the BMP,
Jorn Skov Nielsen will present in Toronto to the Prospectors and
Developers Association of Canada http://www.pdac.ca/ with the clear aim of offering
Greenland’s vast mineral wealth to large-scale mining companies. “Any company that collaborates with the BMP is not only in violation of the UN Declaration of Indigenous Rights,” said Madsen, “they are also supporting what has clearly become an apartheid system.” True North Gems, Inc., (TNG), a junior Canadian mining company prospecting for ruby on Greenland since 2004 was recently granted rights to an enormous exploration license near the village of Fiskenaesset. On Tuesday 9 March 2010, TNG is scheduled to give a 20 minute presentation to the Canadian diamond community. Until the documentation of valuable gem deposits in Greenland, Inuits were allowed to gather, polish and sell gem material. Once exceptionally valuable ruby was documented by TNG, the BMP issued completely new mining laws. “Once an applications is filed to mine, the BMP delays or outright refuses to issue licenses,” said Madsen. “We also want to benefit from the ruby we already collected and legally own and pay fair taxes, but at present that is not possible.” “Even though True North Gems is very unpopular in our country, we respect large scale mining. But we cannot tolerate being thrown out of the many big exploration areas which will soon be covering the entire land which is our commons,” said Madsen, who gathered four thousand signatures in support of Inuit small scale mining rights for ruby on Greenland. ... “The BMP is guilty of marginalizing the Inuit from their own wealth and inheritance,” said Valerio. “Not only do their new small-scale mining laws discredit the BMP in the eyes of the international gemstone community, they also humiliate and discriminate against very people they claim to represent.” [See the protest web site.]
Posted 8 March 2010; 1:55:00 PM. Permalink
(Rachel D'Oro/Anchorage Daily News, 22 February 2010) -- NOORVIK -- Bobby Wells has lived all his life in this remote Alaska village, where the Eskimo dancing of his ancestors was banned by Quaker missionaries a century ago as primitive idolatry. Now Wells, 53, and other residents of Noorvik have wholeheartedly embraced the ancient practice outlawed in the Inupiat settlement, which was established in 1914. "This is the way God made us, to express our thankfulness to him with dancing," Wells said. The belief of traditional dancing as somehow evil, however, remains deeply ingrained in scores of Native villages around the state. But some communities have broken away from that ideology in recent decades. One by one, they have resurrected the old dances and songs of the long ago past, along with culture camps and language immersion programs. Mike Ulroan can't imagine life without dance. It was already revived in the Cup'ik village of Chevak when he was born 21 years ago, long after the practice was prohibited by Russian Catholic missionaries. Dancing has always been a constant for Ulroan, even after he left four years ago to attend the University of Alaska Anchorage. In Alaska's largest city, he dances with several groups. "It's just a way to make me feel happy," he said. "With the movements we do, we push away bad spirits and keep away sickness." Noorvik's decision to lift the ban last fall came after residents learned they would be the first in the nation to be counted in the 2010 U.S. Census. The idea had been kicked around before, but this time locals wanted to make it a reality for a celebration with visiting census representatives and other officials. Tribal leaders formally approved the proposal after it received the blessing of the Noorvik Friends Church, despite opposition from a few elders. It's a huge change because dancing had never been done in the current location of Noorvik, which means "a place that is moved to" in Inupiaq. "I don't speak for the church, but in my own view we're going to come to a place in the afterlife where we sing and dance to the Lord," said church pastor Aurora Sampson. "While we are on this earth we might as well practice."
Posted 22 February 2010; 3:37:52 PM. Permalink
(YLE, 18 February 2010) -- A severe lack of teachers could threaten the future of the languages of the indigenous Sami people in Finland. The critical nature of the shortage of teachers came to light in a study carried out for the Giellagas Institute at the University of Oulu which surveyed the educational needs in Finland related to Sami language and culture. The Sami are an indigenous people that live traditionally in Finnish Lapland, the Kola peninsula and central and northern parts of Sweden and Norway. About 6,400 Sami live in Finland. The report notes that an investment is needed in training Sami language teachers and other educators who speak the language. It suggests that teacher training be organized at one of the universities in the north of the country and in Sami-speaking areas. It calls for special attention to be given to the future of the languages spoken by the Inari Sami and the Skolt Sami.
Posted 21 February 2010; 7:04:56 PM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 19 February 2010) -- In 2009 northern Norway experienced the highest population growth since 1974. For thirty-five years northern Norway has had a steady decline in population, but last year the population grew by 2,196. It is the three northernmost counties of Norway, Nordland, Troms and Finmark that is defined as northern Norway. This is the most scarcely populated area of Norway, and there has been a steady decline in population through since the mid-70s. The latest population countings from Statistics Norway states that the negative demographic trend is beginning to turn. With the 2,196 new northern citizens, there were a total of 465,621 people living in the three northernmost counties on 1 January 2010. The largest county is Nordland with 236,271 inhabitants, while there are 156,494 inhabitants in Troms and 72,.856 inhabitants in Finnmark. All three counties had a population growth in 2009, and an important part of the growth is that the birth rate is also growing considerably. However, it is the most populated municipalities and the city centers which count for most of the population growth. Still the smaller remote communities suffer from depopulation.
Posted 21 February 2010; 6:59:21 PM. Permalink
(Lisa Demer/Anchorage Daily News, 20 February 2010) -- JUNEAU - More than a decade after a state judge ruled that Alaska's system of funding for new and renovated schools was unconstitutional, the system remains unchanged and the backlog of projects in the Bush amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars. Rural lawmakers are railing and legislators from both parties say the issue has festered for far too long. Gov. Sean Parnell says he's working on a solution. The state now operates a two-pronged system to pay for costly new schools and renovations that Bush legislators say gives unfair advantage to urban districts like Anchorage. Building the first ten projects on the state-ranked construction priority list — four new schools and six expansions — would cost the state $332 million. All are in the Bush; many are located in villages within the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge. "If we could tax lichen and moss, we could probably pay for our schools," said state Rep. Bob Herron, a Democrat from Bethel who's on the House budget panel for education. "There is no resource to tax." Most of the Bush schools that need repair or replacement are seriously overcrowded, with double the students they are meant for, according to state education officials, a situation that the governor and four Bush legislators including Herron saw first-hand during a Feb. 11 trip. "I saw children being taught under conditions that make it extremely difficult to learn," Gov. Parnell said in an interview. "Extremely crowded classrooms. Lack of facilities, space and equipment. Safety hazards." He added, "At least for those three schools, I am satisfied the need is there for some change to improve education delivery for young people."
Posted 21 February 2010; 1:01:32 PM. Permalink
(Dutch Harbor Fisherman, 18 February 2010) -- Alaska Native babies were born with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) half as often around the year 2000 as they were five to seven years earlier, Department of Health and Social Services researchers found in an analysis of Alaska Birth Defects Registry data. That change brought the state's overall rate from 1996 to 2002 down by a third, researchers reported in the State of Alaska Epidemiology Bulletin released yesterday. "This reduction is what we've been striving for, and continue to strive for," said Health and Social Services Commissioner Bill Hogan. "FAS and other conditions collectively known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) are one of the most common causes of developmental disabilities and the only cause that is entirely preventable." In 1998, Alaska and three other states with high rates of maternal alcohol consumption were selected for a four-year project through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The project developed a system to track birth defects caused by maternal drinking, and established by 2002 that Alaska's rate was far higher than the other three states; the highest in the nation. The analysis found the rate among Alaska Native births decreased to 32.4 children with FAS per 10,000 live births from 63.1 (down 49 percent); the rate increased from 3.7 to 6.1 among non-Native births (not a statistically significant change.) Alaska's overall rate dropped to 13.5 from 20.0. The analysis ends with births in 2002 in order to incorporate doctors' reports of suspected birth defects caused by maternal drinking. Doctors have until children are 6 to make that mandatory report. A major joint federal-state prevention and education effort ran from 1991 to 1996, with a second running from 1998 to 2006, said L. Diane Casto, manager of Prevention and Early Intervention Services for the Division of Behavioral Health.
Posted 21 February 2010; 11:40:42 AM. Permalink
(IceSave, 21 February 2010) -- The Greenlandic finance minister Palle Christiansen has declared the steady exodus of manpower from the country as the biggest hurdle facing Greenland’s ongoing quest for independence. While acknowledging that other factors have hindered short-term prospects, Christiansen suggested that emigration trends would seriously undermine long-term hopes for the autonomous country. According to figures published in Sermitsiaq, 2008 saw 638 people depart the country on a permanent basis. This is consistent with the record level reached in 2006, when 644 out of a total population of around 50,000 emigrated abroad. Christiansen expressed a desire to instigate a range of measures designed to lure Greenlanders back home, predominantly those young people who leave to study in Denmark. At present, a mere half return home at the conclusion of their education but student groups have confirmed that the prospect of greater autonomy has resulted in a forecasted increase in returns. Employment inside Greenland remains the biggest hurdle to repatriation. Christiansen has also identified housing as an additional barrier, but hopes to address the issue by constructing several new estates. Greenlandic Students Association in Denmark head, Anne Berit Nielsen, has claimed that childcare and family issues also compounded the reluctance to return for many Greenlandic youths. Herself a medical student, Nielsen said simply that “there are just a lot more opportunities in the Danish health service.” Nielsen advised against adopting the proposals of her homeland’s lawmakers to make émigrés repay education subsidies. Christiansen empathised with those students in Denmark but hoped future decisions would be encouraged by a sense of national identity. “If you’re settling down in Denmark, you can’t be a part of building our country. To them, I say: I hear what you are saying but you need to come home and help us.”
Posted 21 February 2010; 11:19:13 AM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 5 February 2010) -- The North of Russia is under the threat of depopulation. Since the year 2000 the population in the Russian part of the Barents region decreased by 462,000, or by almost 11 percent. According to the yearly demographic report of the State Statistical Committee the Russian territories of the Barents region in the beginning of 2009 had 31 thousand inhabitants less than one year ago. That is 0.8 percent less than in 2008. In the three-year period from 2006 to 2008 the total population of the Russian Federation decreased by 317,000 people. This is approximately as much as the population of the biggest city in the Barents region; Arkhangelsk. During the ten-year period from 2000 to 2010, the population of the Russian Federation was reduced by almost 5 million citizens, or -3.4 %. At the same time the population in the Russian part of the Barents region declined by 54,000 people from 2006 to 2008, or by 1.4 per cent, according to the 2009 edition of the Demographic Yearbook of Russia. The biggest population decline in the ten-year period since 2000 was observed in Murmansk Oblast (by 10.4 percent), in Komi Republic (by 9.3 percent), and in Arkhangelsk Oblast (by 9.2 percent). The population of Karelia decreased 6.5 percent. One year ago, in the beginning of 2009, the total population of Barents Russia was 3,793,000 people. Today, according to the preliminary data of the State Statistical Committee the population in these five territories decreased again by 24,000. The greatest declines occured in Murmansk oblast and the Republic of Komi.
Posted 6 February 2010; 11:10:04 PM. Permalink
(Alaska Community Action on Toxics press release via PR Newswire, 4 February 2010) -- WASHINGTON - Today, the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health will examine public exposures to toxic chemicals. Alaska Native leaders call on Congress to include circumpolar atmospheric pollution in their hearing. "Indigenous Arctic communities are suffering the most from chemicals emitted in the lower 48 states," said Vi Waghiyi, St. Lawrence Island Yupik and ACAT Environmental Health & Justice Program Director. "Because many industrial and commercial chemicals are long lasting and persistent in the atmosphere, they drift North on wind and water currents from where they are applied in Southern latitudes; they are in our traditional foods and affecting our health and the health of our children. We are calling on Congress and the Obama Administration to affect policy to regulate chemicals to end the 'contamination without consent' on our people from distant sources." The Yupik people of St. Lawrence Island, and rural communities across the state of Alaska, are concerned about health problems that are associated with persistent organic pollutants present in their air, water, and food. This past fall a delegation of local leaders and elders from the island communities of Savoonga and Gambell traveled over 3,000 miles to Washington, D.C. to raise awareness of the dire health effects in their communities. "While we are not physically near the action in Washington, D.C., Congress has a responsibility to address the needs of tribal governments throughout the United States, especially remote Alaska," said Jane Kava, Mayor and St. Lawrence Island Community Health Researcher from Savoonga, Alaska.
Posted 4 February 2010; 9:33:41 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 27 January 2010) -- Scientists want to bring together people from Canada and other circumpolar nations in Iqaluit next year to talk about the health of the Arctic marine environment and the North's fisheries. The annual Ocean Innovation Conference, to be held in the Nunavut capital in October 2011, is being organized amid concerns about the effects of climate change in the North. Conference organizers from the Fisheries and Marine Institute at Memorial University in St. John's, N.L., are in Nunavut this week to meet with government officials and Inuit hunters. Randy Gillespie, the institute's director of applied research, said organizers will work closely with partners in Nunavut to hold a conference that will include representatives from Iceland, Greenland, Norway, Russia and the United States. "We want to explore the relationships between science and technology and traditional knowledge, recognizing that all three have something to contribute to a sustainable understanding of the marine environment," Gillespie told CBC News. Conference delegates will discuss everything from pollution to ship traffic, Gillespie said. Arctic fisheries will also be discussed, as Nunavut works to expand both its offshore and inshore fishing industries.
Posted 28 January 2010; 8:23:21 AM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 22 January 2010) -- Nearly one quarter of the population has moved from Severodvinsk, Arkhangelsk Oblast in course of the last 16 years. Every sixth inhabitant is now over 60 years. The latest demographic statistics for Severodvinsk are worth some reflection, local newspaper Northwestern Worker writes. The town’s population is constantly shrinking, and the average age of the remaining people is increasing. The population has shrunk from 258.600 people in 1991 to 188.000 in 2009. Severodvinsk has always been regarded as a young town. In the Soviet period this was an industrial center where the best specialists from all over the country came to work. Severodvinsk is the second largest city in Arkhangelsk Oblast. Its main industry remains defense related - Russia’s largest shipbuilding company Sevmash is located here, as well as the major ship repair yard Zvezdochka. Nearly 70 percent of the working population is employed in the ship building or ship repair industry. The main factor in the population decline is migration. The number of people moving from Severodvinsk exceeds the number of people moving to the town by 2-3 times. Only in 2008, 2583 people moved from Severodvinsk, while 431 decided to settle there. Many of the people leaving Severodvinsk are young people who decide not to come back after having finished university or college. The situation got somewhat better in 2009, Northwestern Worker writes. The economic crisis did not have such a big impact on Severodvinsk as on many other Russian towns, and many young people found it more profitable to stay home. At the same time, the remaining population is getting older. For every 1000 persons in active working age, there are 450 children, juveniles and pensioners. The number of pensioners is growing every year, and now every sixth person in Severodvinsk is 60 years or older. Most of the elderly people in Severodvinsk are women, as the average life expectancy for men is only 59 years, while it is 73 years for women.
Posted 23 January 2010; 10:44:55 PM. 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
(BarentsObserver, 8 January 2010) -- The Russian rock musical “Hipsters” (Stilyagi) will be the opening movie at the 2010 Tromsø International Film Festival. The Hollywood reporter calls Hipsters “a visually stunning and energetic musical satirizing repression in the Soviet Union”. The movie won the 2009 Nika Award (Russia’s answer to the Oscar) for best film, best cinematography, costume design and sound editing. Tromsø International Film Festival (TIFF) has had an incredible growth since it first commenced in 1991 and is now the largest film festival in Norway. The total of admissions in 1991 was 5,200 — in 2009 it was 48 258. TIFF 2010 includes more than 100 movies on 12 screens. A popular sidebar at the festival is Films from the North – a special program for shorts and documentaries from the Barents region and other circumpolar areas. Tromsø International Film Festival is set in the dark polar nights, which give's TIFF the unique possibility to screen films outdoor. The outdoor cinema is located at the main square in the heart of Tromsø. TIFF 2010 takes place January 18-24. [Read the program for TIFF 2010. See trailer for “Hipsters” on YouTube.]
Posted 10 January 2010; 11:50:56 AM. Permalink
(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