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  • CBC notes how 17 Inuit have been hired by Parks Canada to guard the site of the wrecks of Franklin's ships.

  • That the Inuit who pointed the world to Franklin's ships also knows of Franklin's burial cairn does not surprise me.

  • Nunavut's communities are set to have much faster Internet through new satellite connections.

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  • Canadian cities could host Amazon's HQ2, but at considerable cost. Affordable housing, say, would be an issue.

  • Conor Sen argues that Amazon's HQ2 augurs an age of corporate diffusion beyond the largest centres.
  • Amazon Prime, Kaleigh Rogers notes, is hugely important for remote communities like those in the North. If it goes ...

  • Stacy Mitchell notes how, after Whole Foods, Amazon seems set to monopolize the whole infrastructure of commerce.

  • Is Jessica Bruder's story of CamperForce, Amazon's RV-living army of elderly workers, a cheering story of triumph over adversity or a scary take on the future of work? I'm not sure.

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  • Bloomberg reports on how Canada-Mexico relations will be tested by NAFTA and Trump.

  • Canada, the 2016 Census reported, is marked by noteworthy linguistic diversity (Tagalog does particularly well.)

  • Vice notes how Galen Weston's opposition to the minimum wage increase for workers at Loblaws is not in his self-interest.

  • Vice's Motherboard looks at how greenhouse agriculture in Nunavut could help drastically reduce food insecurity in that territory.

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  • CBC noted how poverty and climate change is leading to food shortages in the north of Labrador.

  • Also from Labrador, CBC noted the negative effect of climate change on the mental health of indigenous peoples.

  • The whole Inuit lifestyle, CBC notes, is being undermined by climate change.

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Meagan Campbell of MacLean's examines how the Canadian Arctic is on the verge of a boom in scientific exploration.

“The first moment, you don’t even believe it.” Jonathan O’Neil, a geologist at the University of Ottawa, is referring to his research team’s recent discovery of evidence that the oldest known life on Earth may, in fact, be embedded in rocks in Quebec’s far north. “You say, ‘That can’t be.’ So you reanalyze it, and you get the same result. You redo it again, again, again, and you come back with the same results, and you start to believe it.”

The breakthrough, which gained international attention when it was published in the journal Nature in early March, could be one of many discoveries soon to come from the Canadian Arctic. Opening this summer in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, is the Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS), a Plexiglas, quarter-billion-dollar wonder of the northern world. Firs announced in 2007 under Stephen Harper, the station has so far attracted 200 research applicants from countries as far afield as Argentina, South Korea and Australia, all hoping to explore what lies beneath the tundra.

“They’re lining up at the door,” says David Scott, president of Polar Knowledge Canada, the government agency overseeing the project. “Growth chambers” for cultivating specimens, wet labs with cranes for lifting mammals, a dive centre for filling scuba tanks, triplexes for housing researchers—the station cost eight times more to erect than the Perimeter Institute, a science hub in Waterloo, Ont. One popular research area will be geology, as the Arctic holds rock formations rich with information about climate change and, in the case of the Hudson Bay area where O’Neil did his research, the history of life on Earth. O’Neil dated the fossils of ancient bacteria at 4.3 billion years old (although skeptics say they don’t look a day over three billion), suggesting that life existed before the planet had oxygen or oceans, and that life could just as easily have started in other barren parts of the universe.

Aside from prompting research, CHARS is a chance for Canada to stake its claim to the Arctic. The station is opening in a year when the Arctic Council, which negotiates land rights between eight Arctic countries, is looking for a new chair—the United States will step down in May after holding the position for two years. It also comes just before Canada submits a claim for the Arctic continental shelf in 2018 (competing with Russian and Danish claims). While the Canadian Forces have already boosted their presence with exercises in Nunavut including at Alert, the government will emphasize that “We the North” by opening the all-inclusive station for nerds.
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Digital Journal's Karen Graham reports on how the collapse of the permafrost in the Arctic North of Canada threatens further climate catastrophe.

hawing Arctic permafrost are slumping and disintegrating, sending rivers of carbon-rich mud and silt into waterways. This will lead to a climate-driven geomorphic transformation of our ecosystem.

A study published in February 2017, in the journal Geology, titled "Climate-driven thaw of permafrost-preserved glacial landscapes, northwestern Canada," describes the research efforts and findings made by scientists with the Northwest Territories Geological Survey in assessing the increasing intensity of permafrost collapse in the Arctic regions of Canada.

Many readers may remember the July 2015 collapse of a small, unnamed lake in the NWT, documented with a remote camera that showed it falling off a cliff and breaking through a melting earthen rampart.

Thawing permafrost has already caused noticeable changes in the landscape in some Arctic regions and scientists have been tracking temperature changes and thawing of the permafrost for years. When permafrost thaws, large thaw slumps develop, some of them impacting over 30 hectares (74 acres) in area. This can dramatically alter slopes and impact downstream environments.

In 2015, Steve Kokelj of the NWT Geological Survey told the Canadian Press the thaw slumps were getting bigger and more numerous with the increase in temperatures and rainfall. At that time, Kokelj estimated the land affected by slumping had almost doubled in the last 30 to 40 years.
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The Toronto Star's Allan Woods describes how Canadian Inuit are moving towards a common writing system, one that involves dropping the syllabary.

For Canadian Inuit leaders, creating a unified written language system out of 12 dialects and two existing writing systems, one word is proving more important than the rest.

“Asijjiiniaqtut” — roughly translated as “give and take.”

That’s because everyone is having to compromise in order to progress toward an agreed-upon code that can be conveyed by someone in the western Arctic village of Tuktoyaktuk and understood in Clyde River on the eastern coast of Baffin Island, or written in the northernmost Nunavut village, Grise Fiord, and read in the Quebec community of Kuujjuaq.

[. . .]

Christian missionaries arrived long ago in the eastern Arctic with a system of syllabic writing — the Inuit script we still use today, using triangles, humps, dots and squiggly lines — while a Roman writing system took hold in the western Arctic. About a century later, the federal government tried and failed to institute a single system based on the Roman alphabet.

In the ensuing years there were attempts to standardize the two systems, but they were adopted by some and resisted by others. Advocates of a unified system say the status quo hinders communication between far-flung communities, affects the quality of the education system and limits Inuit access to jobs.

“Inuit have always functioned as one, but because of the government system invisible borders have divided us,” said Jeannie Arreak-Kullualik, a member of the Atausiq Inuktut Titirausiq task force that is consulting on the changes.

“We’re trying to unify so that we can eliminate those barriers because we all have the same challenges, which is to keep our language and culture alive and get more education for our children.”
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The National Post carries Bob Weber's article in The Canadian Press describing how a Canadian government program intended to make healthy food more affordable in the North has not worked at all.

A researcher has found that a federal subsidy intended to reduce astronomical food prices for northern families has resulted in stale-dated, unreliable food on store shelves without making grocery bills more affordable.

Tracey Galloway of the University of Toronto, whose findings are to be published in a scientific journal later this month, says the Nutrition North program should be reformed with mandatory price caps on essential food.

“Without price caps and regulatory framework for pricing, the retailers have arbitrary control on how they set prices,” she said from Iqaluit, where she was presenting her results. “We have not seen prices come down over the course of this subsidy.”

Food in the North costs between two and three times what it does in the south. Grapes were recently selling in Nunavut for more than $28 a kilogram.

[. . .]

Nutrition North is a $77-million program that, since it replaced the Food Mail initiative in 2011, has sought to reduce costs by subsidizing shipping to 121 communities in the three territories and the northern regions of the provinces. The federal government is reviewing the program and has held public meetings across the North.
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  • blogTO praises the food court of Village by the Grange.

  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly talks about the importance of self-care in times of stress.

  • The Dragon's Gaze notes that KIC 8462852 does seem to have faded throughout the Kepler mission.

  • The Dragon's Tales notes that Planet Nine may be especially faint in the infrared and looks at the challenges mapping polar regions on Titan.

  • Imageo notes how melting of the ice cap continues in the Arctic Ocean.

  • Language Hat reports on a new script for the Fulani language.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that people who blame identity politics for the victory of Trump were not exactly non-supporters of the main.

  • Marginal Revolution considers the consequences of bribing the American president.

  • The NYRB Daily shares Charles Simic's deep concerns for the future of the United States.

  • Jim Belshaw's Personal Reflections discusses Australia as a target for immigration and calls for honesty in discussions on migration.

  • Peter Rukavina reports on the visit of then-Princess Elizabeth and her husband 65 years ago.

  • Whatever's John Scalzi makes the fair point that he can hardly be expected to know what his Trump-era novels will be like.

  • Window on Eurasia compares Russia's happiness with Trump's election to its elation over Obama's in 2008, and looks at how Russia is facing decline on a lot of fronts.

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The National Post's Tristan Hopper reports on how the oral traditions of the Inuit describe their encounter, in the 19th century, with the "walking dead" of the Franklin expedition.

It was easily one of the most unearthly and chilling visions that had ever struck the land that would soon become Canada.

Eight or nine lurching figures: Their eyes vacant, their skin blue, unable to talk and barely alive.

It was sometime before 1850 at a remote Arctic hunting camp near the southwest edge of King William Island, an Arctic island 1,300 km northwest of what is now Iqaluit, Nunavut. And these “beings” had seemingly materialized out of nowhere.

“They’re not Inuit; they’re not human,” was how a woman, badly shaking with fright, first reported their arrival to the assembled camp.

They were all gathered in an igloo. The men of the camp were away seal hunting, leaving only the women, children and one old man.

As the group tried to process the terrifying reality of what they’d just heard, the crunching footsteps of the strangers got closer.

“Everyone got scared. Very, very scared,” was how the Gjoa Haven shaman Nicholas Qayutinuaq described the encounter to historian Dorothy Eber in 1999. The story was included in Eber’s 2008 book Encounters on the Passage.
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Wired's Alec Luhn reports from Siberia, where global warming is wreaking havoc on cities' infrastructure. If there is going to be, as some predict, a population boom in the Arctic as global warming continues, there are going to be major infrastructure issues around.

At first, Yury Scherbakov thought the cracks appearing in a wall he had installed in his two-room flat were caused by shoddy workmanship. But then other walls started cracking, and then the floor started to incline. “We sat on the couch and could feel it tilt,” says his wife, Nadezhda, as they carry furniture out of the flat.

Yury wasn’t a poor craftsman, and Nadezhda wasn’t crazy: One corner of their five-story building at 59 Talnakhskaya Street in the northern Russian city of Norilsk was sinking as the permafrost underneath it thawed and the foundation slowly disintegrated. In March 2015, local authorities posted notices in the stairwells that the building was condemned.

Cracking and collapsing structures are a growing problem in cities like Norilsk—a nickel-producing centre of 177,000 people located 180 miles above the Arctic Circle—as climate change thaws the perennially frozen soil and increases precipitation. Valery Tereshkov, deputy head of the emergencies ministry in the Krasnoyarsk region, wrote in an article this year that almost 60 percent of all buildings in Norilsk have been deformed as a result of climate change shrinking the permafrost zone. Local engineers said more than 100 residential buildings, or one-tenth of the housing fund, have been vacated here due to damage from thawing permafrost.

In most cases, these are slow-motion wrecks that can be patched up or prevented by engineering solutions. But if a foundation shifts suddenly it can put lives at risk: cement slabs broke a doctor’s legs when the front steps and overhanging roof of a Norilsk blood bank collapsed in June 2015. Building and maintenance costs will have to be ramped up to keep cities in Russia’s resource-rich north running.

Engineers and geologists are careful to note that “technogenic factors” like sewer and building heat and chemical pollution are also warming the permafrost in places like Norilsk, the most polluted city in Russia. But climate change is deepening the thaw and speeding up the destruction, at the very same time that Russia is establishing new military bases and oil-drilling infrastructure across the Arctic. Greenpeace has warned that permafrost thawing has caused thousands of oil and gas pipeline breaks.
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  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper noting how Tau Ceti's debris disk is not like our solar system's.

  • Language Hat talks about writers who want anonymity.

  • Joe. My. God. notes the return of homophobic protesters in France.

  • The Map Room Blog shares hazard maps of various Yukon communities.

  • Marginal Revolution notes that India's biometric smartcards work, and notes diversity does not reduce economic growth.

  • Peter Rukavina shares some late 1990s photos of cows taken with an early digital camera.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes the recent controversy over Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

  • Window on Eurasia argues Russia might invade Ukraine more openly before January but also suggests that Russia is quite brittle.

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In NOW Toronto, Nicholas Engelmann reports on how global warming is enabling a new era of mass tourism in the Arctic.

I am geared up: red Mustang float coat, four layers of polyester, waterproof pants, insulated rubber boots and gloves, radio harness and dry bag. I lean carefully through the port entrance, 2 metres above the teal water. Two nautical miles away on the horizon, a meniscus barely rising above the sea forms the low profile of Igloolik.

Cranes lower Zodiacs into the water and expedition staff are hopping in, starting engines, loading gear and readying to bring passengers ashore. A 1980s powerboat is bobbing 50 metres off the portside. Propped over its windshield is a video camera with a microphone in a pop filter, speckled grey, the colour of an Arctic fox in summer. Handling the camera in the chop is a 50-something man in an old fleece jacket and baseball cap.

I am aboard the MV Sea Adventurer, where I work as a guide and lecturer, and we're tracing the Northwest Passage. One week in and we arrive in the hamlet of Igloolik, one of the most isolated communities in the Canadian Arctic.

It's late summer, and we are the first passenger vessel of the season. In fact, we're the first to arrive on these shores since 2011. We navigated Fury and Hecla Strait, which is notorious for being covered ice but was remarkably clear for our voyage.

On the way, we passed the Crystal Serenity, which has been making headlines as the first full-sized cruise ship to navigate the Northwest Passage, and thereby ushering in the arrival of a new era of eco-tourism made possible by thinning ice and rising temperatures.
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Emily Burke of MacLean's reports on the high wages that nurses in the North can command.

Retaining nurses in any remote community in Canada is a challenge, but it’s particularly true in the Far North. To ensure that the most basic health needs are being met, governments must fly registered nurses up a few weeks at a time, so that there is a rotation of nurses working with the local population. Some of these communities have only a few hundred residents, no road access, and only visiting physicians.

The rotation of RNs is essential to the community, and so they are paid generously. For example, salaries of RNs in Ontario range between $21 and $40 per hour, while in the hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk on the coast of the Beaufort Sea in the farthest corner of Northwest Territories, RN jobs can pay in the range of $70 per hour, a percentage of which is a northern allowance provided by the government.

[. . .]

The best way to keep nurses in remote communities is to educate and train the people who already live there. This is precisely the role of Arctic College in Iqaluit, which offers both a two-year diploma for licensed practical nurses, and a four-year bachelor degree for registered nurses. Many of the students enrolled at Arctic College are Inuit, and some of the classes are being taught in Inuktitut. However, Arctic doesn’t graduate a high volume of nurses: in both 2011 and 2012, no nurses graduated at all.
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At D-Brief, Carl Engelking reports on how experiences on an island in the Canadian Arctic could aid in the colonization of Mars.

Talk of sending humans to Mars hit a fever pitch this week following SpaceX founder Elon Musk’s big announcement Tuesday.

He outlined an ambitious plan to begin sending cargo missions to Mars by 2018, with the first manned missions leaving by 2022 or 2023. Along the way, he hopes to improve the cost of trips by “5 million percent”, and establish a colony of 1 million souls there within 40 to 100 years. Let’s just say people had questions — The Verge’s Loren Grush outlined a few of them.

How will humans survive? What about radiation? How will they get around? What happens to the waste colonists flush down the toilet? We didn’t get a clear answer form Musk, but these are the kinds of questions that NASA scientists have been working to answer for two decades in one of the most remote, empty places on earth: Devon Island.

Devon Island is the largest uninhabited island on the planet, and it’s about as Mars-like as it gets. It’s home to the 14 mile-wide Haughton Crater, which is cold, dry, rocky and extremely isolated. Since 1997, Pascal Lee, planetary scientist at the Mars Institute and the SETI Institute, and director of the Haughton-Mars Project at NASA Ames Research Center, has led missions every summer from a small research station there to prepare people and design technologies for a trip to the Red Planet.

On the island, researchers have tested robots, spacesuits, drills and other tools that would aid future Mars explorers. It’s also a proving ground for would-be Mars colonists. Devon Island is isolated, the environment is brutal and the area is poorly mapped, which makes it the perfect place to get a taste of what might go wrong out there.
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One thing I liked about The Idea of North was the inclusion, mostly towards the end, of works which inspired Harris or which were inspired by Harris. His aesthetic lives on.

Rockwell Kent's Icebergs, Greenland, also painted in the 1930s, looks at the same Arctic territory Harris explored.

From Icebergs, Greenland, Rockwell Kent #toronto #artgalleryofontario #ago #theideaofnorth #rockwellkent #greenland #iceberg

A triptych of works by Nina Bunjevac, The Observer, reflected nicely Harris' earlier urbanism. Sunny Days, below, looks at City Hall.

From The Observer: Sunny Days, Nina Bunjevac #toronto #ago #artgalleryofontario #theideaofnorth #lawrenharris #ninabunjevac #cityhall

This still from Jennifer Baichwal and Nick De Pencier's Ice Forms takes a look at Harris' Arctic as the landscape enters a melt.

Still from Ice Forms, Jennifer Baichwal and Nick De Pencier #toronto #ago #artgalleryofontario #theideaofnorth #lawrenharris #jenniferbaichwal #nickdepencier #harrisago
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A couple of weeks ago, Tristan Hopper's National Post article "The grandiose — but failed — 1960s plan by an Ontario war hero to settle a ‘second Canada’ below the Arctic" caught my attention.

It all comes down to Richard Rohmer, a Canadian war veteran perhaps more notable to many as an author of pulp fiction (really bad technothrillers, mainly). As Hopper notes, he had an ambitious plan for the settlement of the Canadian Shield.

If things had gone Richard Rohmer’s way in the 1960s, the Canada of 2016 could have been home to as many as 70 million people.

Canada would have had a GDP rivalling that of the United Kingdom and new highways, new railways and new metropolises, all built in the sparsely populated boreal forest region that Rohmer came to call “Mid-Canada.” He would even help to spawn an entirely new type of citizen: The hearty, winter-loving “Mid-Canadian.”

Rohmer — a lawyer and decorated RCAF Wing Commander — was leading a charge to build a “second Canada” on top of the old one.

“It was a very simple concept; the country needed long range policies and plans for the future orderly development of this vast land that we have,” said Rohmer, 92, speaking by phone from his home in Collingwood, Ont.

[. . .]

In its heyday, Rohmer’s Mid-Canada plan attracted the attention of a who’s who of powerful Canadians: Captains of industry, bank CEOs, labour leaders, scientists and Aboriginal leaders and the patronage of former Prime Minister Lester Pearson and the Governor General.

“Canada’s future is inseparably linked with the development of Mid-Canada,” read a preliminary report. More zealous boosters even claimed that a Canada without the moxie to develop its boreal forest might as well meekly surrender to U.S. annexation.

The scope, as the above map indicates, was very ambitious.

There would be diagonal trans-continental railroad connecting Labrador ports to the Yukon. A highway to the Arctic. New growth centres; Flin Flon, Whitehorse, Labrador City, Thunder Bay and High Level were all pegged as settlements that could reach Calgary-esque levels of size and influence by the year 2000.

Strangely, Waterways, the precursor to Fort McMurray, was left off the list. It remains one of the few Mid-Canada cities that achieved any semblance of the growth envisioned by Rohmer.

Final infrastructure cost for a full-blown 1970s incursion into Mid-Canada? Four to five billion dollars, about $35 billion in 2016 dollars.

Governor General Roland Michener, a friend of Rohmer, arranged a meeting with Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. The idea was that Rohmer would show up, present the report, screen some slides and get the ball rolling on a Ministry of Mid-Canada or the like.

Instead, he met the disinterested eyes of the Prime Minister, who couldn’t seem to escape Rideau Hall fast enough.

“The message was ‘don’t even bother,’ but in any event we did our best,” he said.

Rohmer has long chalked up the failure to partisan considerations. The airman reeked of Tory blue, and whatever Trudeau planned to do with Canada in the 1970s, settling the North was not on the list.

I would argue that political differences were less important than the immense cost of this project. Could there have been any constituency for this sort of massive spending? To this, I would add the question of politics, not least with the First Nations. How would the indigenous peoples of the North, the last peoples not to be overwhelmed by European and Euro-Canadian settlers in their homelands, respond to this?

A September 2014 article in The Walrus, "If We Build It, They Will Stay" argued straightforwardly for this plan to be implemented now.

If the federal government had bought into Richard Rohmer’s vision from the start, the mid-Canada corridor would look very different today, beginning with infrastructure. Fifty years ago, it was still a government responsibility and, to a degree, priority. Now, it seems, there isn’t a government at any level that has the money for it. Infrastructure is incredibly expensive, and without a commercial imperative, a difficult sell.

But it’s not just infrastructure that governments have abandoned; they’ve abandoned leadership, as well. The government of Stephen Harper is a facilitator. It doesn’t spend money on northern infrastructure; its interest in policy tends to be narrow and ideological (gutting environmental law to pave the way for resource extraction, for example); and its record on Aboriginal concerns got off to an unfortunate start when it reneged on the Kelowna Accord, a Liberal initiative that had allocated $5 billion to First Nations education, housing, health services, and economic development (things haven’t improved much in the years since).

Canada was founded on bold action (David Thompson’s exploration of the West, Alexander Mackenzie’s push north) and big ideas (Confederation). But we have lost the appetite for both. The last big idea in nation-building was Clifford Sifton’s immigration policy under Wilfrid Laurier’s government a century ago, when a cheery, somewhat misleading campaign lured one million foreign settlers to the Prairies. Occasionally, we are pushed toward something larger (Expo 67, various Olympics), but for the most part we have come to settle for the “Peace, Order, and good Government” described in the British North America Act of 1867.
Good government, however, has become synonymous with good management. Courage isn’t prized, and we’ve paid a price for our caution. When it comes to infrastructure investment, planning, and urban development—activities that shaped the country at its founding—our caution has worked against us.

We are in need of a bold national vision, and the thoughtful development of the mid-Canada corridor certainly qualifies. Rohmer envisioned sustainable development, and if anything that’s even more desirable now than it was five decades ago. It would bring us prosperity. It would force us to be environmentally responsible. It would hasten the long-overdue respectful inclusion of First Peoples in Canadian society. It might even help us realize that elusive dream: meaningful national unity.

I am much less convinced of this. Scott Gilmore in MacLean's noted that, by most metrics, the Canadian North is terribly underdeveloped and that Canadians by and large are fine with this. At Vice, meanwhile, James Wilt's article "Why Scott Gilmore’s Latest Claims About the North Are Bullshit" makes the point via a series of interviews that much of what Gilmore would term development (large-scale resource exploitation, particularly) would be unwelcome among the people who actually live there.

Roger Epp, Director of UAlberta North, political science professor and author of We Are All Treaty People: Prairie Essays

VICE: What's wrong with how Gilmore approaches the North?
Epp: First, Gilmore's North is a slippery one. Sometimes it is strictly the territorial north, when he is counting people; and then, when he is counting ports, it slips down to Churchill. The question of where North begins is the subject of endless debate. Is Fort McMurray north? Labrador? Prince George? Sudbury? Chicoutimi? Or only those places where Indigenous peoples predominate?

Second, the "North" is judged entirely in terms of whether it is the site of effective sovereignty and economic development, especially of its "mineral wealth." Those are not necessarily the only criteria that Northerners would apply, though the assumption is that their perspectives are irrelevant. What matters is whether the North is genuinely "ours," meaning Southern Canadians'. As if it is up to people in Toronto and Ottawa to decide if "we" are a northern nation. People live there, and have been living there a long time.

Is this a symptom of Gilmore simply not being able to conceptualize that distinct cultural interpretations of lands/waters, economies, and societies exist? Or what's going on here?
Especially outside the territorial capitals, and in parts of the provincial norths as well, there is a complex relationship between what we might call traditional and wage economies. The latter presumably is a mark of "development." But it is not one or the other for people. Traditional land-based, water-based skills still compensate for the ridiculous price of food, for example, and the relationship between those skills and real self-determination and also the character traits required to live it out should not be discounted.

I was in the community of Deline on Great Bear Lake in late August, just before the effective date and the celebration of a self-government agreement that was almost two decades in the making. While Deline is not without its challenges, those negotiations were an incredible test of community leadership and cohesion, as well as a grounding in traditional stories and spirituality. Deline was rightly celebrated. Where was Gilmore?

For Rohmer's Mid-Canada Development Corridor to take off, or anything like it, at the very least we would need a national government willing both to engage in massively costly projects like this and to ignore the complaints of the people who actually lived there that these projects were hurting their lifestyles and communities. (In addition to First Nations, the Canadian government might well find itself in conflict with provincial government with their own plans for their portions of the Canadian Shield.) This is not impossible, but it would require some fairly significant tweaks.

Would there even be any guarantee that this plan would work? Hopper's article notes that we could well end up creating a sub-Arctic urban dystopia, with mined-out resource cities in environmental wastes. Northern Canada could look much more like post-Soviet Siberia that we Canadians would like to imagine. What would happen if funding to these vast projects was interrupted, as they were in the Soviet Union in the 1990s?

What do you think about this possibility? Was the Mid-Canada Development Corridor realizable?

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The Labradorian's Evan Careen reports on the impending Inuit Blanche event in St. John's. This is a fantastic idea!

This October the city of St. John’s will be playing host to a three-day celebration of Inuit art, culture and knowledge.

The 2016 Inuit Studies conference, co-hosted by Memorial University and the Nunatsiavut government, will bring researchers, storytellers, Elders, and artists together to explore the diverse and unique culture.

The conference will run concurrent to two festivals, the katingavik Inuit arts festival and iNuit Blanche, St. John’s first all-Inuit, all-night art crawl.

The katingavik festival will be a three-day celebration of Inuit film, music and visual arts. iNuit Blanche will feature more than 25 performers spread throughout downtown St. John’s.

The theme of this year’s festival is Inuit traditions, with a focus on Inuit inclusion and Inuit ways of knowing. This is the second time Memorial has hosted the conference and it has been held in in Quebec City, the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. and Iqaluit, to name a few.

“(It’s held) anywhere where there’s a great deal of interest in Inuit culture,” said Dr. Tom Gordon, conference organizer. “But in those 40 years it’s never been hosted by an indigenous government. It has always been a university or research institute. For us, what we’re really proud of, is it a full on collaboration with the Nunatsiavut government.”
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Scott Gilmore of MacLean's wrote in the atmospheric Abandoned Churchill" about the distress of people in the northern Manitoba port of Churchill, a perpetually promising port on Hudson's Bay, that their port is being shut down.

I flew up to Churchill in a small private plane, with a map in my lap so I could trace our progress north.

This is a good way to appreciate how vast and empty this country is. Churchill is as far from Winnipeg as Toronto is from Nashville. From the cockpit, on a clear August day, the pilot and I could see for more than 100 km in every direction. It was simply forest, muskeg and hundreds of lakes, most left nameless on my map. But it did show the occasional mine, fishing camp or radio tower, and each of these was marked with the same bracketed annotation: (Abandoned).

We began our descent just as Hudson Bay appeared on the horizon. The town sits on a narrow point of land bounded by the sea to the north and the Churchill River to the south and west. The first visible landmarks were the grey stone walls of Fort Prince of Wales (abandoned 1782) and the white grain elevators of the Port of Churchill (abandoned 2016).

The massive superstructure of the port is visible from everywhere, and the main street ends right at its gates. When I pulled up in my rental pickup, these were open—the guard shack empty.

Other than the concrete elevators and the loading gantries there was not much to see. A rusting tugboat sits on blocks. There are no train cars waiting to be unloaded, and no ships to take on cargo. Other than seagulls and the wind, it was quiet.

At 4:30 p.m., though, a few people began to emerge and walk toward their cars. This was the last shift, leaving for the last time.

In the National Post, Brian Hutchinson's "Port in a storm" also looks at length at the dire situation for the town. Without the port--something that might well be useful in time of global warning--what point is there to keep Churchill, isolated in the far north, functioning as a community?

Bobby deMeulles sits at his usual perch, next to a window at the Reef coffee shop, keeping an eye on Churchill’s main drag, and beyond that, the town’s old train station and the tracks.

This time of year, railway cars filled with prairie wheat should be rolling past the station for the port of Churchill, 500 metres down the line on Hudson Bay. There are no grain cars today.

There haven’t been any all summer, because Canada’s only deep-water Arctic port — the only port of consequence along 162,000 kilometres of northern coastline — has suspended all grain shipments, a decision made by its Denver-based owner, OmniTRAX Inc.

DeMeulles figured something was up, long before the company announced last month it was halting port operations, save for the movement of local freight to small communities further along the Hudson Bay coastline, mostly in Nunavut.


A private transportation company with most of its holdings in American short-line railways, OmniTRAX Inc. claims none of its regular grain suppliers wanted to do business at Churchill this year. “The grain season for 2016 has passed the solutions stage,” it says. Townsfolk wonder if it ever really tried to salvage the season.

DeMeulles understands how things are done in Churchill. He spent 60 years working at the port, receiving grain, cleaning it, running the elevator. He retired just four years ago, when he turned 75. “I worked until I couldn’t work no more,” he says. “I was well looked after.”

But things looked bleak, well before OmniTRAX pulled the plug on the current shipping season.

“We’d always know how many ships were nominated (coming to the port) well ahead of summer,” deMeulles explains. “We’d first start to hear about the nominations in March. Grain would starting coming up in railcars around the June 15. If you don’t hear nothing, and you don’t see nothing, and there’s no grain coming, you know something’s wrong.”

He shakes his head. “It’s a terrible thing, for a small town.”
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Chris Sorensen's "The one per cent are coming to Canada’s Arctic" in MacLean's describes a new cruise ship visit to the Canadian North.

Residents of Ulukhaktok, N.W.T., population 402, may feel as though New York’s tony Upper East Side has come to visit when Crystal Serenity steams into town later this summer. The towering cruise ship, the biggest to traverse the fabled Northwest Passage, will be carrying 1,070 passengers who paid between $25,000 and $155,000—and 655 crew members—for a 32-day trip that promises “intrepid adventure, the great outdoors and immersive cultural experiences.” Which is where Ulukhaktok comes in. Crystal Serenity is not the first cruise ship to visit the coastal hamlet, mind you, but it’s by far the largest. “There was one back in 2012 called the World,” Janet Kanayok, the local economic development officer, says of the privately owned luxury yacht that carries between 150 and 200 passengers. “But it wasn’t nearly as big as this.”

Nor is Crystal Serenity likely to be the last giant, gilded passenger ship to come calling. Rising temperatures and receding sea ice have opened more of the Northwest Passage’s interconnecting waterways in recent seasons. In 2013, MS Nordic Orion made history by becoming the first bulk carrier to make the historically treacherous trip, hauling a load of B.C. coal to Finland and shaving about 1,000 nautical miles off its usual route through the Panama Canal. The following year, the MV Nunavik, operating on behalf of a Canadian firm, sailed from the Hudson Strait through the passage to China carrying nickel concentrate. In all, there were 25 full transits of the Northwest Passage last season, according to data from Fisheries and Oceans Canada. That’s up nearly 40 per cent from five years earlier.

With the Arctic’s defences melting, Los Angeles-based Crystal Cruises is understandably excited about a huge opportunity to wow well-heeled cruise junkies who’ve grown bored of sand and sun. The company’s inaugural Northwest Passage cruise, from Anchorage, Alaska, to New York, sold out quickly, and tickets for next year’s trip are already on sale.

The Bloomberg article "Antarctica Now Has a Jaw-Dropping Luxury Hotel", by Nikki Ekstein, looks at a new hotel I Antarctica.

Travel to Antarctica has reached fever pitch.

You can go by yacht. You can come and go in a single day. You can even book a fly-around for New Year’s Eve. And now you can stay in a five-star hotel with bespoke furnishings and its own fleet of aircraft.

To be fair, the White Desert camp isn’t exactly new. And it’s no secret spot, either; the guest ledger includes such names as Prince Harry and Bear Grylls. But as a means of celebrating its 10th anniversary, the so-called most remote property in the world has gotten a complete luxury overhaul.

What it now humbly calls “sleeping pods” are six heated fiberglass domes, with bamboo headboards, Saarinen chairs, fur throws, and en suite bathrooms stocked with sustainable Lost Explorer-brand toiletries, created by a scion of the de Rothschild family. Wooden skis adorn the walls; thick parkas for each guest hang from free-standing coat racks. And each suite stands alone on a rugged strip of land in the interior of Antarctica, midway between a frozen lake and towering walls of ice. Drama is in no short supply.

Perhaps the most significant renovations have taken place in the lodge’s library lounge and dining room. Whereas the dining room once consisted of one long wooden table, it’s now a more formal affair, with furs thrown over chairs that wouldn’t feel out of place in a Brooklyn Heights apartment. After hangout sessions with 6,000 emperor penguins, this is where guests share convivial, three-course meals comprising ingredients and wines flown in from Cape Town. (They’re prepared by an in-house chef who cooks privately for the British Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton when he’s not at camp.)


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