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35 Years In The North: The Past Five Years

35 Years In The North: The Past Five Years

Finding lost history under the waves and opening up new horizons on the Arctic coast.
By Jacob Boon
Sep 27
From the September/October 2019 Issue

This is the story of the past 35 years. This is the story of the North, as only Up Here could tell it.

The First Decade.
The Second Decade.
The Third Decade.

Mayor Rebecca Alty revealed Yellowknife's newest mascot, Elon Muskox, in 2018. VIA CITY OF YELLOWKNIFE

It was a mystery 166 years in the ice. Lost somewhere in the Arctic sea, the doomed Franklin expedition became a beacon for explorers and storytellers captivated by the English captain’s hubris. Fortunes were spent searching for Franklin’s ultimate fate before the Erebus was finally located in 2014. The Terror was found two years later—exactly where the Inuit had always said it was—in “pristine condition” off the western coast of King William Island.

Elsewhere, it was the end of an era in 2015 when Yellowknife’s KFC fried its last bird. In 2016 the Jerry Cans launched Nunavut’s first independent music label, Aakuluk Music. A new generation of British royalty came north that same year when Prince George and Princess Charlotte toured the Yukon with mom and dad. (Newlyweds Will and Kate had visited the NWT five years prior.)

At 552 carats, this yellow behemoth unearthed from Diavik in 2018 is the largest diamond ever discovered in North America.

The man who painted the Yukon, Ted Harrison, died in 2015 at the age of 88. Fellow artist Annie Pootoogook was found dead the same year, a decade after winning the Sobey Art Award. The father of Inuktitut music Charlie Panigoniak passed away earlier this spring. Priest, historian, and photographer René Fumoleau died this past August on his 93rd birthday.

The Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk highway opened in 2017 after four years of construction. Six hundred workers built 140 kilometres of road and eight bridges across the icy permafrost to finally connect Canada from coast to coast to coast.

The Canadian High Arctic Research Station in Cambridge Bay finally opened this year, 12 years after it was first announced. PHOTO BY JEREMY WARREN/UP HERE

How many semi-trucks do you need for 1,800 pieces of Inuit art? Three, it turns out. That’s how many big rigs pulled up to the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre in 2016 to pack up the museum’s collection of Nunavut art and transport the prized items south. The artwork is on a temporary loan to the Winnipeg Art Gallery until Nunavut can build its own gallery.

Over the past 12 months, Qaggiavuut ramped up its fundraising campaign to build a performing arts centre in Nunavut, Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation Chief Dana Tizya-Tramm testified in Washington to protect the Porcupine Caribou herd, and Whitehorse’s Dylan Cozens was signed in the first round of the NHL draft by the Buffalo Sabres.

Celebrating 20 years of the territory at Nunavut Day celebrations in 2019. PHOTO BY BETH BROWN/UP HERE

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited Iqaluit, twice, this year. First in March to apologize for Canada’s TB treatment of the Inuit, and then in August to announce a new marine protected area north of Ellesmere Island.

A report in April from Environment and Climate Change Canada said the country is warming at twice the rate as the rest of the world. The North is warming three times as fast. TerraX has begun drilling for gold around Yellowknife. Final negotiations are underway on an Akaticho Dene land claim. Up Here celebrated 35 years.

The North’s story continues and we’ll be here to tell it.

Fireworks at the opening of the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway.