Up Here Newsletter
Northern internet is disconnected, houseboat boundaries are shifting, and Mayochup is flying off the shelves in Iqaluit. All in this week's newsletter.
Did everyone have a good time at Folk on the Rocks? It was hard to tell on Saturday as internet and telephones were down across Yellowknifeand other North Slave communities. Northwestel was tight-lipped about what happened, and the RCMP will only say an act of “senseless vandalism” occurred on Highway 3 between Yellowknife and Behchokǫ̀.
Service was out for 10 hours, causing stores to rely solely on cash payments, airports to check passengers in with pen and paper, and the rest of us to log off from Twitter. So, not all bad. Fibre cuts do happen in the North (there was a major one just two months ago) and without redundancy, the implications are vaguely apocalyptic. (Or, at least they slingshot communities back to the ’80s.)
Northwestel says the majority of NWT’s fibre optic line is buried but some sections are hung “out of reach” along bedrock and electrical poles. The Northern telecom company wouldn’t tell CBC how or where the line was cut on Saturday but noted in past cases the fibre optics have been damaged in several ways, “including being shot at.”
The world’s fastest internet, by the way, is in South Korea—population 51 million and home to prominent technology giants like Samsung. The second-fastest internet? That’s way up North in the Faroe Islands, which has a population of just under 50,000, “not counting sheep.”
Faroese Telecom has been working for years with Chinese firm Huawei to bring blazing fast internet and cellular service to every corner of the rocky archipelago. The country’s 4G network even extends 120 kilometres off-shore. But now the tiny circumpolar nation might have to dismantle and rebuild its network if spying allegations against Huawei prove credible. It’s just one example of how the global battle between the tech company and the United States is rippling out to smaller players. Politico has more.
Still, it’s at least some proof that the North doesn’t have to live with antiquated internet. Compare the Faroe Islands situation to Rankin Inlet. The Nunavut community has endured interrupted-to-non-existent internet and cell service for the past six months. No explanation given. (Various)
Yellowknife’s city limits could shift south under a new agreement with the Yellowknives Dene First Nation. Under the boundary change, Ndilǫ and Joliffe Island would transfer from the city to the First Nation in exchange for lands further south. What would become of the iconic houseboats neighbouring Joliffe is still a “kink” to be worked out, says Dettah Chief Edward Sangris. (Cabin Radio)
Why build new hotel rooms in Iqaluit when you can get them shipped, fully-assembled from Shanghai? Qikiqtaaluk Corporation president Harry Flaherty says ordering pre-made rooms for Nunavut’s new hotel and conference centre will save $6 million and a year of construction time. (CBC)
A baker from British Columbia travelled to Tuktoyaktuk on a quest to make Arctic yeast. Kevin Henning ended up with 30 yeast “starters” he collected out of water and plants from the top of the continent. (CBC)
All sled dog bodies are beautiful, writes Blair Braverman. Learning that lesson has done wonders for the author's own body image. “Some of them eat thousands of calories a day and are still complete string beans…Some of them eat, like, a tablespoon of kibble, and the next day they need a bigger harness.” The differences, like in human bodies, aren’t positive or negative. They’re all good dogs. (Twitter)
Alex Hall died in March after nearly half a century guiding tours through the Thelon Wildlife Sanctuary. Now Dan Wong, owner of Yellowknife’s Jackpine Paddle, is carrying on his mentor’s work by guiding the dozens of clients who'd already booked with Hall for this summer before his passing. “It really meant a lot to him, I think, that this project was carrying on,” Wong says. “[That] I was going to continue on his trips that he had pioneered over the many, many years.” (CBC)
Sad news as one of the orphaned baby moose rescued by the Yukon Wildlife Preserve has died. Faro showed symptoms of illness upon arriving but appeared to recover quickly. Unfortunately, the young calf collapsed earlier this month and ultimately had to be euthanized. Watson, his fellow rescuee and best friend, remains healthy. (CBC)
“How an Amazonian parasite became an Inuit health issue.” Researchers tracked the globe-spanning journey of toxoplasmosis. The parasites that cause the infectious disease are only found in cats, and since “the range of felids does not extend to the Arctic,” it’s not immediately obvious how toxoplasmosis became a prevalent health concern in Inuit populations. So what's to blame? You'll have to click through. (Canada Communicable Disease Report)
The Yukon’s Chris Gilberds and Erin MacIntyre think more people should be eating insects. The duo run the “Northern Bug Munchers Society” Facebook group and organize gourmet bug dinners where trained chef Gilberds cooks up creepy crawlers in creative dishes. (Yukon News)
A grizzly bear terrorized campers on a canoe trip in the Northwest Territories, trashing their camp and trapping them for 12 hours in a remote area of Hanbury Lake. Luckily, the couple had a satellite phone and were able to call for help. Wildlife officers flew two-and-a-half hours to rescue the campers. The “problem bear,” known for its aggressive behaviour, was shot and killed. Meanwhile, two Whitehorse women on a cycling trip abandoned their bikes and jumped into the Yukon River after being charged at by a mother bear. Stay safe out there, campers. (CBC)
A labour shortage is causing Yukon businesses to struggle, but it’s difficult to lure workers north when potential employees don’t have any affordable housing options. The McDonald’s in Whitehorse is looking to alleviate that problem by offering to subsidize workers' rents. (Yukon News)
Cambridge Bay resident Mia Otokiak and her cousin Gibson Porterhave been invited on a joint Canadian-American research expedition through the Northwest Passage. The duo, who both work with Nunavut youth initiative Ikaarvik, will travel aboard the Swedish icebreaker Odinto collect water, ice, and air samples throughout the Arctic. Findings will be broadcasted live from onboard the vessel. (Nunatsiaq)
The Navajo-language cast of Star Wars—yes, that Star Wars—reunited at the Indigenous Comic Con in Albuquerque this week. The actors worked on a 2013 dub of Episode IV: A New Hope that was released on DVD. Not exactly Northern news, I know, but there’s actually a well-established history of Indigenous dialects—including those in the North—influencing made-up science fiction languages. Dothraki in Game of Thrones takes elements from Inuktitut, and Klingon from Star Trekactually borrows some of its sounds from Navajo and Tlingit. (CBC)
ELSEWHERE IN THE ARCTIC
Glacial scientist Celeste Labedz firmly believes kids should be taught that science and “girly things” are not mutually exclusive. “Therefore, I packed a cape with my field work gear just to show what Glaciologist Princess Elsa would look like,” tweets the science princess. The cold never bothered her anyway. (Twitter)
Seven grey whales were found dead in Alaska over a single weekend. Most of the washed-up whales were malnourished, and experts believe a lack of food caused by melting sea ice disrupting the ecosystem could be to blame for the high mortality rates. (New York Post)
Using a high-res thermal camera to shoot photos of Iceland shows a hidden world of nature at work. The ultra-sensitive equipment picks up blackbody radiation from heat sources and requires no external lighting—not even starlight. Check out some incredibly colourful Icelandic snapshots at the link. (Peta Pixel)
Neetsa’ii Gwich’in elder Sarah James is known for two things: her international advocacy work against oil development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and her fry bread. Alaska Public Media has a long look at the dedication the 75-year-old brings to both endeavours. (APM)
Read previous issues:
Garbage and other government lies
There's something about summer
Yetis have no place in the Yukon
The glue is melting faster than we can map it
Just how sterile is a sourtoe cocktail?
Tornadoes in the Territories
Intellectual Property rights and Inuit art
Why are the auroras better in photographs?
Throwing snowballs at the Arctic Council
War whales? War whales!
Russia is attacking our Northern psyche
Polar bear couches are having a moment
Toonik, toonies, and Thrones
Welcome to your twenties, Nunavut!
Inuit moms are the coolest in Canada
Mosquitos, pigeons, and shrimp