Concerns over uranium mining prompt Nunavut to take the issue to the people

The Canadian Press (Bob Weber) – The tiny, remote community of Grise Fiord on the frozen shores of Ellesmere Island is nearly as far as it gets from the giant uranium mine proposed for the southern tundra near Baker Lake. But that didnt stop 46 people in the community from signing a petition tabled in the legislature last summer demanding a public inquiry over the project. Five other Nunavut communities tabled similar petitions. They didnt get their inquiry. But Premier Eva Aariak has announced a unique series of public forums across the territory for later this year to discuss whether uranium mining is something Nunavut really wants … It is the first such mine to come before the Nunavut Impact Review Board (see 09MN003 – Areva Kiggavik) and the first proposed for the wildlife-rich Thelon Basin, home to major caribou herds. With at least a dozen other major uranium projects in the pipeline for the area, how the board balances Kiggaviks effects on hunting and the environment with the need for jobs will define the so-called barren lands for a generation. The debate has engaged the entire territory.

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Winterscapes Of The Alaskan Arctic

Luminous Landscape – The arctic offers photographers far more than unusual terrain and wildlife. It offers exceptional light. During the winter, the sun remains low on the horizon throughout most of the day – that is, on the days where the sun rises at all. The golden hours last far longer than they do down south, often for multiple hours twice a day. The clarity of the atmosphere is also remarkable. One can often see for hundreds of miles, and the colors at sunrise and sunset are frequently more vivid than those in subarctic regions. This combination of ingredients creates the perfect storm for memorable landscape photography.

Also visit website of photographer – Ben Hattenbach

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Report: The NWT Water Stewardship Strategy (2010)

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (GNWT) – Northern Voices, Northern Waters: The Northwest Territories Water Stewardship Strategy, a collaborative approach to responsible water stewardship, was released jointly today by the Government of the Northwest Territories and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. The Strategy promotes an ecosystem-based approach within watersheds to improve water stewardship that will reflect the deep and fundamental relationship between residents and the waters of the Northwest Territories. It sets a common path forward for water partners to take steps today to ensure water is used respectfully for the benefit of future generations … Representatives of Aboriginal governments played a key role in the development of the NWT Water Stewardship Strategy. The Strategy respects settled land claim and self-government agreements and Aboriginal and treaty rights.

Download full report: “Northern Voices, Northern Waters: The NWT Water Stewardship Strategy” (PDF).

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GNWT: 2010 State of the Environment Report (Special Biodiversity Edition)

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (GNWT) – The goal of the 2010 State of the Environment Report – Special Biodiversity Edition is to provide information on the state of NWT’s biodiversity. It provides information to help us understand what components of NWT’s biodiversity are changing and why. This information is used to assess the success of our actions in biodiversity conservation and sustainable use in the NWT and to plan for the future.

Download full report: “2010 State of the Environment Report – Special Biodiversity Edition” (PDF).

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Paddlers honor the late Verlen Kruger with life-sized statue in Portland, Michigan

Grand Rapids Press – In the tiny town of Portland on Friday, amid the ball diamonds and canoe launch at Thompson Field, hundreds of paddlers will gather to honor a Michigan icon and hero: the late Verlen Kruger (visit Kruger Canoes). If you’ve never heard his name, you are not alone. Kruger was 82 when he died of cancer in 2004. But the unique and special man with a build of a bulldog, and a boundless appetite for adventure, inspired paddlers and non-paddlers all over the globe. Kruger started paddling before it was cool, long before the masses turned their collective attention to kayaking. His paddling exploits are listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. He paddled more than 100,000 miles in his lifetime.

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GNWT: Traditional Knowledge Annual Report 2009-2010

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NWT) – The Government recognizes that Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge is a valid and essential source of information about the natural environment and its resources, the use of natural resources, and the relationship of people to the land and to each other, and incorporates traditional knowledge into government decisions and actions where appropriate. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) was given responsibility for coordinating government-wide Traditional Knowledge initiatives. The Interdepartmental Traditional Knowledge Working Group, led by ENR, has compiled Traditional Knowledge initiatives each department has undertaken during the 2009-2010 fiscal year and compiled them in a report, GNWT Traditional Knowledge Annual report 2009/10.  For more information, visit ENR website on traditional knowledge.

Download full report: “Traditional Knowledge Annual Report 2009-2010” (PDF).

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2009 Air Quality Report (Northwest Territories)

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (GNWT) – The 2009 Annual Air Quality Report summarizes the air quality information collected in 2009, along with some discussion of trends. Statistical assessment of the results can be made available upon request. The report also provides information on network operations, the air pollutants monitored and the air quality standards used in assessing the monitoring results. Further information, including ‘almost real-time’ air pollutant readings, can be found by visiting the NWT Air Quality Monitoring Network web site.

Download full report: “Northwest Territories Air Quality Report 2009” (PDF).  You can also view the summary report (PDF).

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Documentary on Inuit dog slaughter debuts in Nunavut, Canada

Alaska Dispatch – Canada’s National Film Board is in Iqaluit to connect with more northern filmmakers, as a new NFB documentary about a controversial issue in Nunavut made its debut there this week.” Qimmit: A Clash of Two Truths” probes the historic slaughter of thousands of sled dogs — an essential part of Inuit life and culture — in the Canadian Arctic from 1950 to 1970. For the documentary, directors Joelie Sanguya and Ole Gjerstad spoke to Inuit in Nunavut who say the RCMP deliberately killed the dogs, as part of a federal government policy to force Inuit to shed their semi-nomadic way of life and move into western settlements. The directors also spoke with RCMP members who deny an organized dog cull took place. The RCMP has argued that officers only killed sled dogs that posed a public safety risk. A co-production between the NFB and Piksuk Media of Clyde River, Nunavut, “Qimmit: A Clash of Two Truths” was screened in Clyde River on Wednesday.

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Arctic Terns: Coastal birds carry toxic ocean metals inland

Science Daily – A collaborative research team led by Queen’s University biologists has found that potent metals like mercury and lead, ingested by Arctic seabirds feeding in the ocean, end up in the sediment of polar ponds. “Birds feeding on different diets will funnel different ‘cocktails’ of metal contaminants from the ocean back to terrestrial ecosystems, which can then affect other living organisms,” says lead author Neal Michelutti, a research scientist at Queen’s Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Lab (PEARL) … The team collected sediment cores from two ponds on a small island in the Canadian Arctic that is home to the nests of two kinds of seabirds: Arctic terns, which feed primarily on fish, and common eider ducks which feed mainly on mollusks. The researchers analyzed the pond sediment for metals and other indicators of the birds’ activity.

Abstract: “Trophic position influences the efficacy of seabirds as metal biovectors” (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, June 08, 2010).

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Listening to the Northern Lights (Recordings by Stephen P. McGreevy)

All Things Considered (NPR): Natural Radio recordist Steve McGreevy was in Canada last year (1998) for the Northern Lights: not to see them, but to hear them. You can do that, if you have the right equipment. And Steves got a van full. Producer Barrett Golding introduces Lost and Found Sound listeners to Natural Radio (YouTube video) — the sound of earths magnetic field. Like the auroral lights, Natural Radio effects tend to be stronger around the spring and fall equinox, and near the earths poles. So whenever Steve gets a chance, he heads north, into the wilderness, away from electrical interference, where the listening is best. Theres a double CD of Steves Natural Radio recordings called “Electric Enigma,” put out by Irdial.

For sample audio, visit Auroral Chorus II website (The Music of the Magnetosphere), or click on the audio podcast (“Alberta Wavering Tones”) below.

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