News items & TRUer NORTH

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December 22, 2016    OTTAWA CITIZEN     NP 8

NEW OIL EXPLORATION BANNED IN ARCTIC

Decision by Canada and U.S. comes as interest in region has vanished

Jesse Snyder

“Since the earliest days of exploration, the promise of an Arctic oil and gas industry has risen and fallen in line with commodity prices.  Today, amid heightened uncertainty over oil demand in the long term and increasingly onerous regulatory expectations, the region is an unfeasible as ever.” from Jonathan Hayward / The Canadian Press

The move by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to limit oil and gas exploration in the Arctic comes after years of false starts in Canada’s far North.

Companies such as Panarctic Oils Ltd. and Dome Petroleum were punching holes in the Canadian Arctic in search of oil and gas since the 1960’s.

In the beginning drilling yielded little; more recently new investments “began to uncoveer larger swaths of resource, and the Canadian Arctic is today estimated to hold 15 billion barrels of oil and 19 billions barrels of oil equivalent of natural gas.  A US survey estimates the Canadian Arctic  region could contain 240 billion barrels of oil and oil-equivalent gas “which is almost 10 percent of the world’s known conventional petroleum resources.”

Interest in pursuing Arctic oil resources has been vanishing  because of declining demand, low prices, rising, onerous regulation, and unfeasible cost of development.

…”There hasn’t been something visible on the horizon of significant benefit to Indigenous communities in the near or ever medium-term future, so what we’re focused on is how do we grow and strengthen those communities right now, because right now is when we need them,” Trudeau said Wednesday.”

 

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December 5, 2016     THE OTTAWA CITIZEN    NP4

NORTH STILL STRUGGLING WITH HIGH FOOD COSTS

Federal subsidy has done little to help, study says

Bob Weber

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.

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

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November 19, 2016     TORONTO STAR     A25

Matthew Daley (The Associated Press)

NEW DRILLING OFF ALASKA BLOCKED FOR FIVE YEARS

Obama plan to protect Arctic  industry, but could be rewritten by Trump

The Obama administration is blocking new oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Ocean, handing a victory to environmentalists who say industrial activity in the icy waters will harm whales, walruses and other wildlife and exacerbate global warming.

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November 19, 2016     TORONTO STAR     A25

THE HEAT IS ON AT NORTH POLE

Temperatures have risen to freakishly warm levels for a second straight year

Chris Mooney and Jason Samenow (from The Washington Post)

It’s polar night in the Arctic right now.  That’s when the sun doesn’t rise and temperatures are supposed to get supercold, when the sea ice that covers the vast Arctic Ocean should grow and thicken.

But in fall 2016, something is totally off.  The Arctic is superhot, even as a vast area of cold polar air has been displaced over Siberia.

At the same time one of the key indicators of the state of the Arctic–the extent of sea ice covering the polar ocean–is at a record low right now.  The ice is freezing up again, as it always does this time of year after reaching its post-summer low, but it isn’t doing so as rapidly as usual.

In fact, the ice’s area is even lower than it was during the record-low 2012 year.

This is the second year in a row that temperatures near the Pole have risen to freakishly warm levels.

During 2015’s final days, the temperature near the Pole spiked to the melting point thanks to a storm that pumped warm air into the region.

So what’s going on here?

‘It’s   about 20C warmer than normal over most of the Arctic Ocean, along with cold anomalies of about the same magnitude over north-central Asia,’ said Jennifer Francis, an Arctic specialist at Rutgers University.

Francis has published research suggesting that the jet stream, which travels from west to east across the Northern Hemisphere in the mid-latitudes, is becoming more wavy and elongated as the Arctic warms faster than the equator does.

Abnormally warm air has flooded the Arctic since October.  Richard James, a meteorologist who pens a blog on Alaska weather, analyzed 19 weather stations surrounding the Arctic Ocean and found that the average temperature was about 2C above the record set in 1998.

Since November, temperatures have risen even higher, ‘It is amazing to see that the warmth has become even more pronounced since the end of October,’ James wrote on his blog.

The weather in the Arctic can change swiftly. Temperatures could cool and the ice could rebound.

But the record-low sea ice extent and unprecedented warmth in the region fit in well with recent trends and portend even more profound changes in the coming years.

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November 19, 2016   OTTAWA SUN    News, p. 13

INUIT LEADERS DEMAND ACTION

Say not enough done to protect kids from sex abuse, suicide

Kristy Kirkup     Canadian Press

“Prominent Inuit politicians are urging Canada’s leaders–indigenous and otherwise –to protect children from the scourge of sexual abuse and suicide running through indigenous communities, saying no child deserves to have their innocence stolen.

“The head of Canada’s national Inuit organization says it is incumbent upon all leaders to proclaim that abuse in indigenous communities is unacceptable.

“Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, is himself no stranger to intergenerational trauma; his own father struggled with alcoholism after falling victim to sexual and physical abuse at residential school.

‘There is no way to talk about this issue without it being difficult,’ Obed said in an interview.  ‘I always think of tge children, the children that shouldn’t be abused and they are at the centre of my thoughts.’

“Children deserve the right to live happy, healthy childhoods and to fulfil their potential, he added.”

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October 20, 2016     OTTAWA SUN     News, p. 5

KEEP YOUR COPS: OKALIK TO OTTAWA

Joe Lofaro

“For the past four years, the Ottawa Police Service has been responsible for RCMP oversight in Nunavut, but now an MLA is saying it’s time the territory cut its contractual ties with the city police force after one of its ovfficers posted racist comments about Aboriginal Peoples on Facebook.

“Paul Okalik, former Nunavut justice minister and the territory’s first premier, said he has asked current Justice Minister Keith Peterson to look at having a civilian oversight body to probe questionable police conduct instead of contracting out to Ottawa police.

“Since 2010, the RCMP requires independent investigations into the conduct of its officers when there is a serious injury or death involving RCMP or when a Mountie contravenes the Criminal Code.

“Okalik said he was personally insulted when he saw offensive Facebook posts on a report about the discovery of Inuit artist Annie Pootoogook’s body in the Rideau River last month.”

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September 26, 2016     MACLEAN’S MAGAZINE    Universities: Engineering      pp. 48-49

CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF ICEBERGS

Ice forecasting is hot, as climate change makes the Arctic more accessible

Dylan C. Robertson

“From flying planes over the arctic’s vast surface to crunching numbers with cutting-edge technology, a small but growing group of young engineers are keeping ships safe from the hazards of ice while working at the forefront of computer science.

“In Canada, ice forecasting dates back to the Cold War, when the government needed safe routes to install missile radar in the Far North.  It has since grown with recent developments in computing capacity and weather modelling–not to mention interest in tourism, shipping, and oil and gas exploration in the Northwest Passage.  With changing climate and an estimated 90 billion barrels of oil buried under the Arctic, ice forecasting promises hot salaries and rapid career advancement.

‘It’s about meteorology, oceanography, and a lot of thermodynamics,’ explains Martin Richard, a civil engineering professor at Memorial University in St. John’s, Nfld.  ‘You learn so many useful things, and it’s lots of fun.'”

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September 19, 2016      MACLEAN’S  MAGAZINE   National pp. 22-23

THE GREAT CANADIAN LIE

Canada is not a proud northern nation.  Its Arctic is undefended, undeveloped and socially fraught.

Scott Gilmore

“We are not a northern nation, and we need to stop lying to ourselves that we are.

“More people live in Moose Jaw than live in the Yukon.  Compared to other Artctic regions, Canada has done so little to develop its northern economy that is is now rivalled by the tiny Faroe Islands.  There’s still no four-season road to our Arctic shores.  The only railroad is falling apart.  There’s no longer a port, and it’s easier to fly to Africa than it is to Nunavut.

“Canada needs to stop pretending that it cares about the North.  decades of false rhetoric has created expectations among those few who do live up North that someone ‘has their back.’  No one does.  They’re on their own and they have been for generations.  We tell the world the North is ours, that we are protecting our sovereignty and our vast mineral wealth.  Tut the truth is we aren’t, and those resources are so far from the nearest railhead they may as well be on the moon.”

Canada has lost opportunity: Unemployment, crime and incarceration rates are all higher in the North

 

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September 2, 2016     OTTAWA SUN     News p. 15

NORTH COULD BE STARVING FOR SUPPLIES

Bob Weber     Canadian Press

“For 80 years, Christmas in many remote communities of the western arctic really should have been in the summer when the annual landing of the Northern Transportation Co.’s barge brought in supplies from new trucks to breakfast cereal.

” ‘Everything,’ is how Stephen Wylie, the administrator of Sachs Harbour on Banks Island [in the NWT], describes those loads.

“He says this year’s sealift includes 12 months worth of diesel for the hamlet’s generator, 200 boxes of paper for its fax machine and 100 cases of pop for his family’s sweet tooth.  ‘That’s why we need a sealift.'”

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August 30, 2016     OTTAWA SUN     News p. 10

GRITS COOL TO FAR NORTH: CRITICS

Trudeau hasn’t visited yet

Lee Berthiaume      Canadian Press

“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is flying to China on Monday, adding to the long list of countries he has visited since winning last year’s federal election.  Yet there’s one place closer to home that Trudeau hasn’t set foot in since forming a government: Canada’s far north.

“Officials maintain that despite the lack of a prime ministerial visit, the Arctic remains one of the governments top priorities.  But opposition critics and experts say the Liberals have been noticeably absent in a number of ways when it comes to Canada’s northern reaches.”   Canadian Forces annual Arctic exercise, Operation Nanook…is viewed as the most important for asserting Canadian sovereignty over its northern reaches while giving the military and other federal departments experience operating in the region.  Former Prime Minister Harper included the operation in his traditional tour of the north.  Prime Minister Trudeau is traveling in China instead.

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August 30, 2016     NATIONAL POST  in Ottawa Citizen     NP 1

SHIP PUTS NUNAVUT HAMLET ON THE MAP

Tristin Hopper

“Long a stopover for Arctic explorers, on Monday the Nunavut hamlet of Cambridge Bay saw the largest single invasion of visitors in its history.

“More than 900 passengers from MS Crystal serenity swarmed ashore after the 10-storey behemoth anchored off the remote port in the Canadian Arctic.

“The vessel is the largest cruise ship to sail through the Northwest Passage.  …Monday’s influx almost overwhelmed the settlement and its 1,500 inhabitants–if only for a few hours.”

 

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August 6, 2016      GLOBE AND MAIL     Federal Politics      News: Indigenous Affairs      A4

OTTAWA APPOINTS HIGH-LEVEL ADVISER ON ARCTIC ISSUES

Bob Weber

“Ottawa has turned to a high-profile northerner to advise it on where to spend money in the Arctic and ensure those who live there have  voice in how it’s spent.

“Mary Simon, a diplomat, journalist and long-time Inuit leader, has been named a special representative to Indigenous Affairs and Northern Development Minister Carolyn Bennett.”

” ‘I’m trying to look at what will make a difference to the communities,’ Ms. Simon said. ‘My role will be to make recommendations to the federal government on how we can make investments.’ ”

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April 12, 2016     OTTAWA CITIZEN     Canada     Politics     NP4

AN ATTRACTIVE OPTION FOR ARCTIC DEFENCE

Low cost makes F-35 look good for the Far North

Matthew Fisher  in Crystal City, Va

“Having remained mostly silent during the often overheated debate about Canada’s next fighter jet purchase that took place during the Stephen Harper years, Lockheed Martin has begun to pitch its F-35 as the best choice to defend the vast Atlantic and Pacific approaches to Canada and especially the High Arctic.

“It is probably no coincidence that what Lockheed has chosen to stress about the fifth-generation warplane dovetails with the Liberal government having declared that asserting Canada’s sovereignty over the Far North and the defence of North American airspace were among its security priorities.

“It follows a promise from Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan that Canada will conduct ‘an open and transparent process to replace the CF-18s.’

“That reverses what the Liberals had said during the election campaign about excluding the F-35 from consideration from what will be a multibillion-dollar contract, no matter which fighter jet platform the federal government buys.

“It comes after the Pentagon has said the cost of each F-35 has dropped to US$100 million from $145 million and is expected to dip to about $80 million by 2019.

“The high cost of the Joint Strike Fighter had been one of the other major complaints in Canada.”

It is noteworthy that other polar nations are expected to opt for F-35s. Norway intends to fly only F-35s above the Arctic Circle.  Denmark, another of Canada’s allies, is likely to opt for the F-35 soon.  Canada and her allies are all conscious of Russia’s presence in the Arctic.  It renovated 15 bases there in 2015.  Canada’s allies are aware also that F-35s are capable of dealing with Russia’s new generation of lethal long-range missiles.

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April 9, 2016     GLOBE AND MAIL     News     A14

CANADIAN ARCTIC:     WHERE CENSUS IS A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH

Information gatherers race against time, weather and geography to collect crucial data for the first long-form survey in a decade

Luke DeCoste    in Whitehorse, Yukon

“By the time Canadians log on to Statistics Canada’s website in May to fill out the first long-form census in a decade, hundreds of trained census takers will have already covered 40 per cent of Canada’s land mass to collect information in more than 29,000 homes in villages and hunting camps across Northern Canada.

“Frigid temperatures and unpredictable ice roads are among the obstacles they face in one of the most arduous census exercises in the world, although some say the risks of not doing it are much higher.

“When the previous Conservative federal government cancelled the mandatory long-form census and replaced it in 2011 with the voluntary National Household Survey, it sparked an outcry among policy experts across Canada who said they didn’t have the data to make evidence-based decisions on everything from health care to social services.”

The new Liberal government reinstated the long-form census and that had serious implications for collecting information in Canada’s northern territories.  Expensive flight costs, unpredictable ice roads, lengthy snowmobile travel, getting to isolated camps and communities before ice melts and before spring hunting, fishing travel on the land and seas are some issues taken into account by the northern census takers.

“Statistics Canada probably undercounts Nunavut suicides by up to 30 percent” as was learned when a discrepancy was discovered between data from surveys and coroner reports. “That could mean a big difference in mental-health services to vulnerable communities.

“The data are equally murky for heart disease and stroke in the North.

“It might not seem like there is an epidemic.  …Then you find out that 70 percent of your [First Nations] community is smoking.  If that were an Inuit community, we know from the epidemiology that they’re going to have a heart attack or a stroke unless there is an intervention put into place.  It’s not rocket science, but without the research, you can’t know that.”

In 2014 one report from the Auditor-General noted a sparsity of information on children in  the Northwest Territories to formulate policies to deal with childhood poverty, alcohol and drug abuse, crime and homelessness, and foster care.

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April 2, 2016     GLOBE AND MAIL     Globe Focus F1, F3-F5

WITHOUT PRECEDENT

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould isn’t just a trailblazer, she’s a force of nature.  Is she up for the toughest job in the country?

Erin Anderssen

“Five months…after winning the newly created riding of Vancouver Granville with 44 per cent of the vote, she [Jody Wilson-Raybould] was sworn in as Canada’s justice minister.  It was arguably the defining moment of a day that was itself remarkable for the unprecedented ethnic and gender diversity of the country’s new cabinet.  People wept–in their seats at Rideau Hall, in their living rooms in British Columbia, and across the country–as the first aboriginal Canadian was named to run the department that had designed, more recently than many Canadians like to remember, the laws and legislation that created residential schools, stripped this country’s aboriginal women of their rights based on whom they married, and effectively rendered indigenous people second-class citizens through the Indian Act.  As the new minister would point out two weeks after the cabinet swearing-in, during a speech at Simon Fraser University: Just over half a century ago, she wouldn’t have even been allowed to vote.

“There is a tendency, at such a historic tipping point, for the symbolism of Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s appointment to become a distraction from the person taking office, drifting uncomfortably close to tokenism.  A woman! A First Nations woman! But, the emotional weight of her appointment aside, in the last 30 years ‘expectations have never been so high for a minister of justice,’ suggests Adam Dodek, a legal scholar at the University of Ottawa.

“After a long career fighting proudly for indigenous rights, she is now sitting on the other side of the table, as the representative of the Crown.  It will be impossible to make everyone happy, not least herself.  And the success or failure of the new government in which she sits is riding, in no small part, on how well she does her job.

“Making history was easy by comparison.”

[The whole article from which this excerpt is taken is really worth reading!]

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April 2, 2016     NATIONAL POST     News     A3

LOST NUNAVUT TRIO SURVIVES EIGHT DAYS

Built igloo for shelter, search plane arrives just as supplies run out

Bob Weber in  Iqaluit

“Lost on the tundra and low on fuel, Pauloosie Keyootak knew there was only one thing he could do to keep himself, his son and his nephew alive.

‘ I built an igloo with a small knife,’  the 62-year -old member of the Nunavut legislature said following his rescue Thursday night after eight days lost on the land.

“Keyootak, his 16-year-old son, Atamie Qiyuqtaq, and nephew Peter Kakkik, 47, were spotted by a Twin Otter search plane south of their intended route between Iqaluit and Pangnirtung.  They were flown by helicopter to Iqaluit, where they were found to be in good condition.”

Keyootak explained “how he and his companions became disoriented and kept themselves alive for more than a week in one of the most forbidding environments on earth.

“The trio set off March 22 from Iqaluit.  They were in tending to snowmobile the 300-kilometre overnight trek to Pangnirtung.  From there, they were to head up the Baffin Island coast to Qikiqtarjuaq, one of the communities in Keyootak’s riding.

“The trip, 11 hours in good weather, is well-travelled and studded with shelter cabins along the way.

“But it also crosses rugged terrain, twisting along jagged coastlines and climbing over mountain passes.

“Bad weather made the trip worse.

‘We were in a kind of blizzard,’ That’s why I got lost.  I lost the trail road.  I turned in the wrong direction between here and Pang’ Keyootak said.

“Instead of heading northeast to Pangnirtung, the travellers were riding south down the shore of Frobisher Bay.  By the time they realized their mistake, they didn’t have enough gas to retrace their tracks.

“With no communication equipment, there was nothing to do but hunker down in the high winds and -30C temperatures and wait for help.

‘My son and nephew, they got a caribou,’ Keyootak said.  ‘That’s how we survived–the meat from the caribou.’

“The Twin Otter spotted a snowmobile track and followed it to the improvised camp.

…”Dozens were involved in the search [operation], which scoured up to 15,000 square kilometres of rock and ice.”

Government search spokesman Kris Mullaly said “travellers are encouraged to carry a communications device, GPS or emergency locator.”

 

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March 16, 2016      GLOBE AND MAIL     Environment     A6

ARCTIC SEA ICE NEAR RECORD LOW FOR SEASON, SCIENTISTS WARN

Bob Weber

“Scientists warn that the area covered by this winter’s Arctic sea ice could turn out to be the lowest ever measured.  The news comes on top of a long season of freakishly warm weather at the top of the planet, including above-freezing days at the North Pole and a months-long string of temperature records.”

Glaciologist Dr. Ted Scambos said sea ice “has been quite low. Most of the days in February were records for that day.”

“Canadian waters such as Baffin Bay and the Labrador Sea are about average or slightly above it for sea ice.  The Gulf of St. Lawrence, which is included in the centre’s estimations, is largely ice-free.

“Arctic sea ice is a crucial part of the northern ecosystem, relied on by organisms from algae to polar bears.

“But it also plays a significant factor on weather for the rest of the planet.  An ice-free Arctic has already been linked by some studies to multiday rains or storms in more southerly latitudes.”

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February 5, 2016     OTTAWA CITIZEN     Context     C2

CANADA STALLS AS RUSSIA BEEFS UP NEAR THE POLE

Putin spending massively to build up his military forces in the High Arctic

Caption to the photograph accompanying this article reads:  “Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin arrives at a research institute on Franz Josef Land in the Arctic in 2010.  Russia’s military buildup in the Arctic worries western leaders.”

Matthew Fisher/Thule, Greenland

…Russia “is preparing five new nuclear missile regiments and building or rebuilding 17 Arctic bases on the far side of the North Pole.”

…Barack Obama “announced this week the U.S. would quadruple, to $3.7 billion,”…its spending on the Cold War.”

Fisher explains:  “The defence of the North matters far more than it did a few years ago because, despite serious budget challenges, Russian President Vladimir Putin is spending massively to build up his military forces there.”  A significant project is underway “80 degrees north and only about 1,200 kilometres from Canadian territory.”

“Perhaps most impressive of all, Russia has been building a new fleet of nuclear icebreakers in St. Petersburg.  Among them is a mammoth 173-metre, $1.6 billion flagship to be completed next year.”

“The Russian spending blitz on the Far North is meant to buttress its claim to a large chunk of the Arctic Ocean against rival claims to some of the same waters by Canada, the U.S. and Denmark, on behalf of Greenland.”

Thule, Greenland has a 3,000 metre airstrip and a deep water port that is ice-free in September and October that have been an important sites used by Canada and United States in its defence of North America since World War II.  Early warning radar has been upgraded recently by NORAD.

…”Former prime minister Stephen Harper talked a great game about his elaborate plans to build icebreakers and new land-based military facilities well above the Arctic Circle, during his annual summer visits to the region.  But his government, like those before it, did almost nothing to improve Canada’s northern defences.”

“There has been nothing concrete yet from the Trudeau government about what it intends to do to allay grave western concerns about Ottawa’s spending on defence, as well as Canada’s contribution to the war against ISIL and Russian aggression in Ukraine.”

“Nor, much closer to home, has anything yet been said about how it plans to shore up North America’s polar flank in the face of Putin’s ambitious plans to militarize the region.”

 

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February 4, 2016     OTTAWA CITIZEN     Politics     A8

TOOTOO FIRST MINISTER TO SUBMIT TO QUESTIONS IN EVOLVING SENATE

Joan Bryden

Fisheries Minister Hunter Tootoo on Wednesday became the first cabinet minister to submit to questioning in the Senate as the upper house adapts to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s  plan for a more independent, less partisan chamber.

Standing in the centre aisle of the upper chamber, Tootoo responded respectfully to more than a dozen detailed questions about polciies and programs under his portfolio.

Both Liberal and conservative senators declared the 30-minute session an improvement over the traditional question period held in the Senate.

“I think it was a good exercise–historic, first time,” said Sen. Claude Carignan, Conservative leader in the Senate. “To have a minister…that we could question on everything about his portfolio, I think that’s a good exercise.”

…”The people will understand more what we’re doing here and how knowledgeable we are on our files,” Sen. Carignan said.

Senators chose to invite Tootoo first because his portfolio is of special interest to the four Atlantic provinces, where no opposition MPs were elected who could grill the government in the House of Commons.

As a minister from Nunavut, Tootoo said it was fitting that he should be the one “breaking the ice” on the Senate’s new approach to question period.

“The fact that I’ve come from a consensus-style government that we have in Nunavut–it’s kind of a neat thing to be the first one to appear before the Senate.”

 

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January 28, 2016     OTTAWA CITIZEN     Context     Section C2

INUIT LUNG CANCER RATES HIGHEST IN THE WORLD

Tom Blackwell

A new international study makes clear why nearly all the Inuit young people from Nunavut in three study groups put up their hands when asked if lung cancer or other smoking diseases had killed someone close to them.  It found the Inuit of Canada and other countries–once relatively cancer-free–suffer from the steepest rate of lung cancer anywhere in the world, a striking illustration of how southern lifestyles can upend far northern peoples.

The phenomenon is blamed on off-the-scale smoking rates, officially pegged by Statistics Canada at about 63 per cent of adult Inuit, even worse according to local research.

Nunavut-led surveys indicate that more like eight in ten of the territory’s mostly Inuit population smokes–a remarkable five times the rate in the general Canadian population, said Frankie Best.

And about 90 per cent of Inuit women smoke during pregnancy, she said.

“Smoking provides huge challenges to our health system, and it has huge societal impacts,” said Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the national Inuit organization.  “It’s something that people think about every day, whether they are smokers or non-smokers.”

In response, territorial governments are pumping millions into an array of anti-smoking programs, some of them stressing that smoking is not a traditional part of Inuit culture–a message underscored in Nunavut by the tag line “tobacco has no place here.”

There are early signs of success, such as the many people who now avoid lighting up inside their often-cramped homes.

“People do go outside and smoke, even in -50 and -60C weather, and that’s an enormous success,” said Best, who works for the Nunavut Health Department.

…Smoking rates in the general population [of Canada, United States, and Denmark] peaked in the 1960s, before new-found knowledge of the health risks precipitated a steady drop–to about 15 per cent today.  but why did the Inuit not butt out at a similar rate?

It may be partly because smoking has become an integral part of social life in a harsh land, said Obed: “It helps them through the day.

Meanwhile, the Inuit’s other modern challenges–from poverty to food scarcity and mental-health problems–have tended to monopolize attention, he said.

 

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January 27, 2016    OTTAWA CITIZEN    You    Section D1-2

UNEARTHING CULTURAL TREASURES

Nunavut society seeks to protect its heritage through connecting elders with young artists

Caption for accompanying photo:  Cape Dorset elder Qaunaq Mikigas teaches Julie Alivaktuk the Inuit custom of throat music.

Chris Lackner

Imagine discovering an ancient, 12-hour song only remembered by one living  person.  That’s the kind of cultural treasure being found and preserved my Nunavut’s Qaggiavuut Society.  Their Arctic Songs initiative paired 10 elders with young, northern musicians–creating powerful teachable moments for nearly vanished pieces of art.  That concept–protecting the old while encouraging the new –anchored the non-profit cultural organization`s proposal for The Qaggiq Project, one of three finalists for the $1 million Arctic Inspiration Prize, which will be awarded Wednesday in Ottawa.

…Northern art is unique, powerful, and in some cases nearly mythical, but it ‘s often too isolated.  The Qaggiq project aims to change that –to build on Qaggiavuut’s early success with the help of performing arts institutions like Ottawa’s National Arts Centre and Montreal’s National Theatre School. Anchored by a diverse team of artists, administrators, and arts educators, Qaggiq aims to bolster Arctic culture, while uniting northern artists.  The goal is to prevent vital art from being lost forever, and encourage new careers that may never launch without a helping hand.

While Canada’s vast geography is a challenge to all artists–and especially touring musicians–the north takes that to the extreme.  The Arctic is short on both patrons and venues, but long on distance.  ‘Communities are so far apart and it’s so expensive to travel…you could be a great performing artist in a community and no one else even knows you exist,’ says team leader Ellen Hamilton, who has toured Canada as part of the band Night Sun.

Qaggiq will focus on artist consultation, training, mentorship and internships, creating new vehicles for collaborative performance, and bolstering youth programming and arts education.

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January 23, 2016     TORONTO STAR     Insight     IN2

FIRST ABORIGINAL WOMAN TO LEAD CANADIAN LAW SCHOOL LIVES UP TO HER NAME

Angelique EagleWoman’s appointment as dean of Lakehead’s Bora Laskin Faculty of Law comes at key time for aboriginal rights

May Warren (Staff Reporter)

A rough translation of her South Dakota reserve name given to her as a teenager is ‘GoodEagleWoman.’  “I was told that it was an important name and it meant that I was supposed to do something with my life, to contribute to our people,” EagleWoman said over the phone from Moscow, Idaho, where she is a professor in the University of Idaho’s Native American Law Program.  The appellation was fitting for someone who would become the first aboriginal woman to head a law school in Canada.  …At 46, EagleWoman has already had a distinguished career as a legal scholar and practising attorney.  This Law dean is poised to be a ‘critical player in the North.’  …As a role model, EagleWoman sees her appointment as a natural extension of being an educator:  “I believe that with this new law school there is a call going out to aboriginal communities…the doors to law school are open for you.”

[John Dunphy: “I believe that although EagleWoman is an expert in aboriginal law in United States, her expertise in a Northern Ontario university will soon bear fruit in Northern Ontario.   Her appointment also sends one more signal to Nunavut why that territory needs to establish a university to serve the needs of Canada’s North.]

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October 3, 2015        OTTAWA CITIZEN          OBSERVER  B3

CANADA IGNORES THE ARCTIC AT ITS PERIL

The ‘true North strong and free’ is more than a line in the anthem,argues Robert Sibley, but during this [Federal Election 2015] campaign party leaders have all but avoided Arctic sovereignty, despite its importance to our identity, prosperity and security.

Robert Sibley

“A Canadian prime minister has three fundamental responsibilities in serving the nation: unity, prosperity and security.  The last one encompasses the other two; without security the nation’s unity is at risk and you can pretty much forget about prosperity,  All three elements, particularly unity and security, dovetail with the issue of Arctic sovereignty.

With the Arctic gaining greater geopolitical attention because of the melting polar ice, [Derek] Burney and other observers say Canadians neglect the region at their peril.  The region is estimated to hold a third of the world’s undiscovered natural gas and about 15 per cent of its undiscovered oil.  All Arctic countries–Russia, the United States, Denmark and Norway, as well as Canada–are eyeing the area as thawing ice exposes potential sea-lanes that would provide access to resources and open the region to shipping.”   The article draws attention to the growing threat of Russia and China in questioning Canada’s sovereignty in the North.

 

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September 28, 2015      OTTAWA CITIZEN      Context C3

COMBATTING SUICIDE IN NUNAVUT:

Special inquest explores high rate among territory’s Inuit

Joe O’Connor     NATIONAL POST

Witness Jack Anawak contributed to the inquest with compelling evidence from hispersonal experience.  “Suicide was virtually unheard of among the Inuit historically.  RCMP records for 1920-45 documented just 27 suicides throughout the Northwest Territories. Of the number, only one was a youth.”  Joe O’Connor makes the following observation: “Many in Anawak’s generation spent time in residential schools.  Few talked about it.  Instead, they drank, took drugs and raged as their families and cultural traditions fell apart, dissolving in a haze of substance, physical and sexual abuse.  The cycle of abuse and despair became self-perpetuating, passing from one generation to the next.   Children suffered.  Suicide rates soared.  Here we are today.”  The article points out that stakeholders have a plan for addressing the suicide issue, but do not have the funding to put the plan into action.

 

_____________________________________________________________________________________________ September 24, 2015               OTTAWA CITIZEN

MAKING SENSE OF INUKTITUT

Canada’s Inuit creating plan to unite Arctic under single language.

Tristin Hopper       National Post

The Inuktitut word for “son” differs in Labrador, Quebec, and Baffin Island.  “It is all the same Inuktitut word.  But in the linguistic maze of the Canadian Arctic, the roughly 40,000 speakers of the Inuit language use no fewer than nine different writing systems and two alphabets.”

…”Canada’s Inuit are now hammering out a plan to unite the entire Arctic under a single Roman-lettered language.”

…”It’s only recently that ITK has formed Autausiq Inuktitut Titirausiq, a task force of eight representatives–two from each of Canada’s four Inuit regions–to figure out a common standard to be understood from Inuvik to Labrador.  …Just last month, the task force made news in the Arctic by recommending the system abandon Inuit syllabics and stick strictly to Roman orthography.  ‘With language erosion, we have to figure out a better way for young people to read and write in our language,’ said Jeannie Arreak-Kullualik, one of two Nunavut representatives on the task force.”

“Inuit leaders have been discussing a unified script since 1970. But as might be expected with an effort to revamp a written language across 160,000 kilometres of Arctic, the idea has been controversial.”

…”What’s changed Inuit minds this time around is education.  The wide variance of written Inuktitut –and the difficulty of learning syllabics– has resulted in young Inuit abandoning the tongue for English.  A recent survey found only teachers and translators were using it daily.”

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July 17, 2015     GLOBE AND MAIL     News p. A5

Weather:  Ice and fog hinder shipments to Iqaluit

Rare conditions result in dwindling supplies, pointing to a vulnerability northern communities face.

Grocery shelves were almost bare in Iqaluit recently after fog and ice prevented shipments from arriving by air and by sea.  The ice even prevented fisherman from launching their boats, eliminating another food source.

A rare lingering fog and thick ice have caused major delays in food shipments to Iqaluit, where store shelves that were bare for nearly a week are only now beginning to be restocked.

Cargo planes that deliver perishable goods were not able to fly inn or out of Iqaluit for five of the past seven days, according to First Air spokeswoman Anubha Momin, leaving people hustling for other options.  Cargo and combo planes (planes that carry cargo and passengers) are the tow’s only source for perishable goods, and their absence resulted in dwindling stocks and bare produce shelves until Monday, when the fog started lifting.

At the same time, an abnormal amount of ice in Frobisher Bay–which also enabled polar bears to wander into town–is making it difficult for an ice-breaker to carve a path for cargo ships delivering gas and annual food shipments that residents order to avoid the Arctic’s high food prices.

 

 

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June 22, 2015     OTTAWA CITIZEN    “Context” p. C10

Inuit hamlet set to feather own nest

Sustainable eiderdown operation reopens on Hudson Bay island chain.

Bob Weber    THE CANADIAN PRESS

“Inuit in a tiny Nunavut community are hoping the whirling flocks of thousands of seabirds that have filled larders for centuries will fill their wallets through one of the rarest and most precious commodities–eiderdown.

“After being shuttered for nearly a decade, Sanikiluaq’s eider factory started buying eiderdown this month, sustainably collected by Inuit families from the tens of thousands of nests built by the birds nearby.

…”While the community hopes for long-term sustainable jobs, it’s also eyeing changes to the water the birds need.  Hunters are tracking the shifting ice and sea conditions as hydro projects from Quebec pour vast and increasing amounts of fresh water into the ocean.

“Eiderdown comes from eider ducks, large seabirds that nest in huge numbers in the Belcher Islands.

“The duck plucks the down from her breast to protect her nest and the eggs.

“Collectors take down before the eggs have hatched and take care to leave half the fluff.  The down goes to the factory, where it is cleaned and sterilized and sewn into parks and duvets.

“A single nest can produce about 70 grams of eiderdown, the warmest and most durable insulation in the world.”

 

 

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June 19, 2015      GLOBE AND MAIL

Lives Lived: Eric Ayalik Okalitana Pelly

Son, big smiler, loyal friend, proud Inuk.  Born on June 12, 1995, in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut; died on Dec. 30, 2014, in Ottawa, of sudden cardiac arrhythmia, aged 19.

“My wife and I will never forget meeting Eric for the first time–or how quickly we in love with the little boy and his remarkable smile.  Laurie and I have worked in Nunavut for most of our careers (she as in-house counsel for the land-claims organization, I as a writer for publications and cultural projects focused on Inuit heritage), and at the time we were living in his home town, Cambridge Bay.

“Eric was just over two years old when social services staff brought him to our house.  He spent most of the next four years in our foster care and we adopted him, our only child, when he was six.  His smile endured as he grew up, becoming his hallmark.  As one of his hockey coaches said, ‘The only thing faster than his feet was his smile.’

“Eric was passionate about hockey.  His skill at the game and his vital role on a team helped boost his self-esteem.  From the age of nine, after we moved “south,” his Ottawa teammates offered acceptance and admiration that he often found missing elsewhere.

“He was admirably calm under pressure.  I saw it countless times: at sea on a ailboat, face-to-face with a grizzly in the barren lands, and on the ice.  As an oder teenager, his hockey team made it to Ottawa’s city championship final and played overtime to a tie; the game was to be decided by a shoot out and Eric went immediately to his coach, saying, ‘Let me shoot first.  I will score, and it will take the pressure off the shooters after me.’  He did score, but the team lost.

“Eric loved to travel.  He sailed to Venezuela twice (and lost his first tooth at sea the first time). When he was six, we took him from Nunavut to Japan, where he ushered Princess Takamado around an exhibition of northern art (which I had a hand in organizing).  Through family trips and youth-abroad programs, he visited a dozen countries in Europe.  Best of all, for him and for us, we did several long canoe trips together in the Arctic.  By the time he was 12, he had paddled on the Thelon, Clarke, Elk, Back, Consul and Simpson, some of the great rivers of the Barrens.  He was proud to be from Nunavut and comfortable in the northern wilderness.

“Like so many aboriginal children, Eric suffered the consequences of Canada’s past treatment of native peoples.  The impact descends through the generations, resulting in challenges to self-esteem and identity. It is difficult to believe in your own worth when your parents and grandparents have been undervalued, as Canadians are now beginning to realize and understand.  To help other Init youth achieve the success for which Eric worked so hard, we have established a charitable foundation in his memory, the Ayalik Fund.  It will help some Nunavut youths partici0pate in confidence-building programs, such as Outward Bound and Encounters With Canada, which made such a difference for Eric.

“At 19, Eric had graduated from high school, had a wonderful girlfriend, was proudly working in his first full-time job as a surveyor’s assistant and enjoying the taste of success.  He was a fine young man, with a promising future, tragically unfulfilled.”

David Pelly is Eric’s adoptive father.

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June 8, 2015    METRO NEWS CANADA

THE CANADIAN PRESS

Growing North:  Students envision cheaper food in Nunavut

“A group of university students [two leaders of this project are from Ryerson.] will head to Nunavut this summer to build a greenhouse to produce cheaper food for one remote community.”  …”Starvation is…a real threat in places such as Repulse Bay, at the Arctic Circle in central Nunavut. [“Repulse Bay…will revert to its traditional Inuktitut name, Naujaat, on July 2, 2015.]  …”The plan is to focus on fruits, vegetables and herbs, which will be grown with hydroponic technology that uses nutrient-rich water rather than soil.”

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June 4, 2015    METRO NEWS

Megan DeLaire

Nepean students host students from Nunavut

Inuit youth travel south for week after hosting Ottawa students.

Students from Mother Teresa High School learned that others could easily find wonder in the things they take for granted when they hosted students from Igloolik, Nunavut, in Ottawa from May 16 to 24. Igloolik is a town of 1,500 mostly Inuit inhabitants.  …”When the two groups of students first met in April they were strangers, by the time they parted ways in May, they considered themselves closer than friends.”…For many of the visitors from the North, “the trip marked their first time leaving Nunavut.  Many saw their first trees, dragonflies, and revolving doors while in Ottawa.”

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May 28, 2015     OTTAWA CITIZEN    FINANCIAL POST     C10

Arctic hamlet’s mayor ‘very happy’ after seismic testing nixed

Bob Weber (The Canadian Press)

Last June, the National Energy Board approved plans from the [Norwegian] three-company consortium to begin five years of seismic tests in the Davis Strait, up and down the entire length of Baffin Island.  The testing, which uses loud, high-intensity sounds to help map the sea floor and the geology underneath was to begin this summer.

The program is strongly opposed by the people of Clyde River, which argued before the board that the testing would disturb or harm seals, whales, walrus and other marine mammals locals depend on for food.

The three companies…argued that their tests would occur well outside the areas where marine mammals are hunted.

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May 18, 2015      GLOBE AND MAIL     NEWS A5

Education: Momentum is building for Inuit university in Nunavut

Bob Weber

Perhaps they’ll call it Ingalangaittuqsiurvik–an Inuit word meaning “standing in an elevated place where you can see far distances.”

…Canada is the only Arctic nation that doesn’t have a university in its northern regions and the idea has been talked about at least since 2007.

…It is obvious that there’s a pressing need.   …The institution would be located in Iqaluit and would need to be independent of both government and Inuit organizations.  …While it would be open to all, it would mostly serve Inuit students from across the North.

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May 7, 2015      GLOBE AND MAIL     NEWS A6

Where’s the hardest place to live in Canada? 

Officially it’s Nunavut, but researchers discover that lack of data in this country makes such a study extremely tough in its own right.

Tavia Grant

[The survey’s] “measure looks at median household incomes, jobless rate, postsecondary schooling, disability and obesity rates, mental health, stress, food insecurity and social assistance rates.”

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April 23, 2015      GLOBE AND MAIL     NEWS A5

Territory Dispute: Survey finds fewer Canadians support Arctic claims,

Paul Koring WASHINGTON, DC

…Less than half of Canadians–45 per cent–still believe the Northwest Passage is “within Canadian waters,” a dramatic drop from the 74 per cent who held that view only five years ago.

 

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April 18, 2015     TORONTO STAR     “World” A20

Changes in the Arctic will hit home,     Chris Mooney of the WASHINGTON POST

If the Greenland Ice Sheet melted, sea levels would rise by six metres.

Researchers say conditions up north may affect rising sea levels and what we eat.

Planet-wide consequences:

1.  Changing your weather

2.  Changing what you eat

3. Rising sea levels

4.  Worsening global warming itself

 

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April 18, 2015    OTTAWA CITIZEN     B1, B2, B3

Ottawa’s Inuit Renaissance: community optimistic about future

INUIT TRADITION: LOUD AND PROUD,    Elizabeth Payne

Ottawa has the largest Inuit population south of the Arctic, and the community is at the centre of an urban renaissance in health, culture, and education.

Lynda Brown: “This [Ottawa] is where I learned everything.  I didn’t speak the language,

I didn’t drum dance.  I didn’t throat sing growing up.  I learned it all here.

Ina Zakal is a cultural teacher at the Ottawa Inuit Children’s Centre and

often speaks in her native Inuktituk.

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January 24, 2015     OTTAWA CITIZEN     B5

North’s Empty Larders, Steve Rennie

“We can’t pretend it doesn’t exist anymore,” says former Iqaluit mayor of the hunger

experienced daily by thousands of people, mostly Inuit, who simply can’t afford the

high price of groceries in the Arctic.

The Associated Press

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Jan.24, 2015       GLOBE AND MAIL      A4

Canada’s Northern ‘Anchor Point’ 

Alert, NUNAVUT  After spending two days in the world’s most northerly settlement

that is permanently inhabited, Governor-General David Johnston speaks to

John Allemang and Tonia Cowan about Canadian Forces Station Alert and the idea of the North.

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January 24, 2015     NATIONAL POST     Questions & Answers     A2

Finding Franklin

Louie Kamookak of Gjoa Haven in conversation with National Post’s Jen Gerson

Kamookak feels Parks Canada has not given enough recognition to the Inuit

elders who passed down the stories of the Franklin expedition.

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October 18, 2014        GLOBE AND MAIL     Books         R16

NORTHERN EXPOSURE         

Circling the Midnight Sun: Culture and Change in the Invisible Arctic

James Raffan shares the stories of those he encountered while circumnavigating the Arctic Circle.

Reviewed by J.R. McConvey

…”Raffin meets an array of characters whose stories dazzle in their magic and diversity, but also prove depressing in how often their bleaker elements echo one another’s.”

“For these people, climate change is a presence, but much less so than the cultural change that is sapping their ability to continue existing as themselves.  Many of them believe the two kinds of change are inseparable.  Yet, when it comes Arctic policy, their voices are almost always marginalized.”

“The most heartbreaking aspect of Raffan’s journey is that, as much anger and desperation as he encounters, he’s continually being welcomed to share the gifts of these suffering cultures.  For all that they watch their elders and languages and teenagers die, for all that they understand climate change as a symptom of the same appetites that fueled colonial policies of conquest and assimilation, they’re still eager to share their wisdom with southerners.”

…”Circling the Midnight Sun gives us a valuable opportunity to hear from the most vulnerable, but also the most resilient, residents of our planet.  Far from being a cry of anger from a remote land, their message speaks to all of us who live with a changing climate that could soon mean big changes in our culture, too. We the North, indeed.”