MAY/JUNE 2019 | FREE
NATIONAL ABORIGINAL DAY FISH FRY & STAGE SHOW The North Slave Metis Alliance is pleased to announce that we will be hosting the 2019 National Aboriginal Day free-of-charge fish fry and stage show at the Somba Ke Civic Plaza. We invite everyone in Yellowknife to come enjoy an afternoon of Northern hospitality including, Metis, First Nations, and Inuit food, music and dance. The North Slave Metis Alliance staff, along with our sponsors and volunteers, look forward to seeing you there!
Friday, June 21st
Noon till 5pm 2 EDGEYK
Somba Ke Civic Plaza
May/June 2019 - EDGENORTH.CA
11 13 18
29 PILOTING THE LAST CONTINENT Tom McLennan left his YK houseboat for a tent in Antarctica, fulfilling a dream to fly in polar opposite ends of the world. He shares his story and photographs. Tom McLennan and Ariel Holmwood-Bramwell
FRONT EDGE Saying goodbye to ice and snow, but hopefully not forever. Laurie Sarkadi GUEST EDGITORIAL How the fear of liability is crushing YK’s entrepreneurial spirit. Rylund Johnson
38 YEARS AT THE MUSEUM
As it celebrates 40 years as a hub of NWT culture and history, the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre is bursting at its seams. An interview with its director Sarah Carr-Locke. Laurie Sarkadi
FOUND FOOD Seared Seal Loin and Wild Berrie. Calvin Rossouw THOSE ‘70s STORIES Two urgent calls for help. Glenn Smith HOT STUFF What will climate change do to our cool city? Jess Dunkin A DENE PERSPECTIVE ON CLIMATE CHANGE Cultural historian, trapper and hunter Fred Sangris has witnessed many changes in the land over the past fifty-plus years. Jess Dunkin
23 A RADICAL TRANSFORMATION
43 GAMBLE ON BUSINESS
Tradable vs. Non-tradable industries: why a new Virtual Reality studio could work in YK. Sam Gamble
44 NWT ARTISTS CORNER
Gone Fishin’ . Charlotte Overvold saves fish bones and scales from the trash can and turns them into delicate wonders. Sarah Swan
46 NORTHWORDS YOUTH WRITERS
Going from able-bodied woman to multiple amputee meant seeking out places to find healing and belonging. Sometimes, that place is Yellowknife. Therese Estacion
WINNER Reach for the stars. A short story by St. Pat's high school student Lagurenh Janse van Rensburg.
Kevin O’REILLY MLA Frame Lake
Please call or email me to discuss issues of concern to you and to share your ideas Kevin_O’Reilly@gov.nt.ca | 867-767-9143 ext. 12110 | www.mla-framelake.ca May/June 2019
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TOM MCLENNAN & ARIEL HOLMWOOD-BRAMWELL There are snowbirds and then there are snowbirds. Tom McLennan is usually at the controls of an Air Tindi Twin Otter flying all over the North. This winter he jumped at a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bail on the heart of winter and bask in the 24-hour sun of Antarctica. His story and photo essay, “Piloting the Last Continent” on page 29 gives you a glimpse of the height of summer in that mysterious land. Tom lives with his partner Ariel Holmwood-Bramwell on houseboat bay.
RYLUND JOHNSON Rylund Johnson is a lawyer, recent houseboat purchaser and a man with no shortage of opinions. In his Edgitorial (page 9) he opines on how there is a culture of fear surrounding liability concerns in Yellowknife. Rylund has recently been scheming how to get a Makerspace started in Yellowknife, details of which can be found on Facebook as MakerspaceYK. For more opinions from Rylund check out his podcast, "Dispatches from the Scandimaniac."
COVER Moosehide Tanning camp at Somba K’e Civic Plaza, 2016 by Angela Gzowski angelagzowski.com EDITOR Laurie Sarkadi email@example.com
PUBLISHER Matthew Mallon firstname.lastname@example.org
Therese Estacion is a teacher from Toronto who came to Canada from the Philippines when she was 10 years old. She is currently working on a book of poems that explores the issues she faces as a person with a disability after recently becoming a bilateral below the knee and partial hand amputee. Her story “A Radical Transformation” on page 23 is about those experiences. Her writing explores topics concerning ableism, accessibility and Filipino folklore.
PHOTOGRAPHER Angela Gzowski email@example.com DESIGNER Pamela Schoeman firstname.lastname@example.org ADVERTISING Samantha Stuart email@example.com FOUNDER Brent Reaney firstname.lastname@example.org Not for resale. ©Copyright 2019 by:
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Jess Dunkin, Sam Gamble, Lagurenh Janse van Rensburg, Calvin Rossouw, Glenn Smith and Sarah Swan. Thank you! FOLLOW US ON TWITTER, FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM AND ISSUU! @edgenorth
Contact me any time with your questions or concerns
Cory Vanthuyne - MLA Yellowknife North coryvmlayknorth
867-767-9143 Ext. 12170 firstname.lastname@example.org mla-yellowknifenorth.ca
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Saying goodbye to ice and snow, but hopefully not forever
faced with the news that multiple amputations were necessary due to complications from a rare bacteria. Despite the obvious accessibility challenges here, Therese has made Yellowknife her new home. I hope you find her story of strength and resilience as inspiring as I did (see page 23).
AFTER SOME PREDICTABLE – and some outrageously
This issue I speak with Sarah Carr-Locke, director of the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre, as it celebrates 40 years as a cultural hub for the city (see page 38). Sam Gamble is back with a column on the challenges of starting a new business here (see page 43) and Yellowknifer Charlotte Overvold is featured in Artist’s Corner on page 44. If you’re looking for a fast and easy way to cook seal meat, our Found Food recipe on page 11 can help you out.
In case you’re not quite ready to bid the snow and ice farewell, Tom McLennan’s photos from his trip to Antarctica will remind you of the beauty and wonder of a monochrome white landscape. The Yellowknife pilot took a trip of a lifetime there in January and shares his experiences on page 29.
We’re thrilled to be a sponsor of this year’s Northwords Youth Writers Contest and give the last word to its winner, 17-year-old Lagurenh Janse van Rensburg of St. Pat’s high school. Congratulations Lagurenh! Be sure to check out the Northwords Writers Festival May 30-June 2.
unpredictable – false starts, spring is undeniably in the air. While it’s never a given that after the snow melts the white stuff won’t return until winter, climate change has ratcheted up the stakes for how much variance Yellowknifers can expect with their weather. More snow and rain, warmer days, lower water levels...this issue Jess Dunkin takes a look at the changes coming our way (see page 18).
This third installment of Those ‘70s Stories by Glenn Smith harkens back to a much less successful northern aviation story, that of Marten Hartwell. Smith had barely gotten his feet wet in Yellowknife when he found himself part of the search for the fabled pilot (see page 13).
If you want to exercise your writing muscles, or share some other form of YK-inspired art, you know where to reach me: email@example.com Good luck digging out that sunscreen! - LAURIE SARKADI Editor
There are few personal stories that have moved me as much as that of Therese Estacion. She found herself suddenly
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How the fear of liability is crushing YK’s entrepreneurial spirit by RYLUND JOHNSON “YOU’D BE LIABLE IF ANYTHING WENT WRONG.”
As a lawyer in Yellowknife, I frequently hear these words – spoken not as a rational analysis, but as a fear tactic intending to end a conversation. Liability has become a go-to word for pessimists, NIMBYs and naysayers who want to throw cold water on a project before it has even had a chance to start. The problem is, I rarely hear this word used with an appropriate assessment of what the liability is, or even consideration of what the word means. According to Black’s Law Dictionary, liability is: “The state of being bound or obliged in law or justice to do, pay, or make good something.” So when your aunt tells you that you shouldn’t start a dogsled business (something the North has been doing successfully for thousands of years) because there is too much liability, she is likely talking about the risk of a person getting injured. This is not the same as the risk of damages being awarded in a civil court case. There is a lot more to a negligence analysis than: someone got hurt, better make the tour operator pay. Using liability as a scare tactic as opposed to a rational analysis is especially problematic in the North, where the complexity of our common law system – rooted in hundreds of years of old white men arguing in wigs – was imposed upon an Indigenous population already operating under its own legal systems. One root of this problem is that lawyers are trained to see all the potential ways a scenario can go wrong, and are often only brought in too late – when things have gone wrong. Operating in a world of worst-case scenarios leads to lawyers ensuring there are additional layers of red tape (colonialism’s favorite tool) by advising clients don’t do anything at all unless fully insured, waivered, trained and certified … and have you considered mandating everyone at the Snowcastle wear helmets? One lawyer I know straight-faced told me that a group of Canadians drinking beer by a bonfire attracts too much liability. Lawyers are often guilty of exaggerating risk, or at least qualifying it in legalese to the point where confused entrepreneurial clients simply give up on their dreams. Likewise, the frequent butting of heads with various administrative bodies, whether it be the liquor inspector, fire marshall, or city inspector, have killed many ideas.
It is odd that Yellowknife, a frontier town and a place famous for houseboaters living with no homeowner insurance, is culturally risk averse. A key reason for this is the inflexibility of our northern regulatory regime, which is very recent while being simultaneously outdated. As a result, the knowledge and expertise to navigate this system has not yet developed. By comparison, anyone looking to start a tech start-up in Vancouver has hundreds of people who have gone before them. In Yellowknife, most entrepreneurs find themselves having to pave new ground, like the Woodyard Restaurant/NWT Brewing Company, which faced multiple start delays as territorial regulators wrestled with the task of creating the rules for commercial breweries. The Con Mine headframe in many ways didn’t stand a chance. On one side, lawyers focused on the cost to remediate the headframe (a.k.a take it down). Yet any potential purchaser approached the debate with the idea of keeping it up. As a result the lawyers for the government put the headframe in the liability column, while a potential purchaser put it in an asset column. The point here is not to get into a debate over whether we should have kept the headframe (we should have), but to illustrate that liability can mean different things depending on the lens. As lawyers we are trained to switch sides of an argument depending on our client. We may have to take broad interpretations of regulation in order to let our client’s new idea fit into an outdated regulatory regime. As such we learn to recognize that the law and the judges who interpret it are flexible. How else would we manage to argue about it so much in court? Yet all too often bureaucrats favour a strict interpretation, which saves them from having to go out on a limb for a member of the public they are supposed to serve. This means many of our most successful denizens just adopt the ‘better to expect forgiveness than ask for permission’ attitude. As lawyers we can’t advise our client to disregard a zoning by-law and just pay the fine later – but more importantly, in a proper system, we shouldn’t have to. I am not calling for less regulation or disregarding safety. I am talking about a cultural shift to view laws as adaptable, designed to provide safety and not simply check boxes. So anytime someone says you shouldn't do something because there is “a lot of liability,” ask them what they mean? Do they mean risk? Because most people naturally understand risk, and their own risk tolerance. Most people don’t understand “liability,” so they should ask a lawyer who does, and ask them for solutions. Not more problems.
Glen Abernethy MLA Great Slave
For questions, concerns or comments please contact me at: (867) 767-9143 ext 12186 firstname.lastname@example.org mla-greatslave.ca
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FOUND FOOD Pictured is a seared seal loin with warm wild berries, spruce tips and beef fat snow.
Seared Seal Loin and Wild Berries
Recipe by CALVIN ROSSOUW | Photo by ANGELA GZOWSKI
THIS IS A RECIPE for a sustainable Canadian meat that’s becoming more popular in
restaurants across the country. Inuvialuit and Inuit have known forever about the many nutritious benefits of eating seal meat. Many Yellowknifers were fortunate enough to taste some samples at this year’s Long John Jamboree. If you missed out on the free samples don’t worry, as many Yellowknife restaurants expressed interest in selling seal themselves. It’s a beautiful meat that can be compared in texture to beef fillet mignon and tastes like liver. This recipe makes a great appetizer and pairs well with warmed wild berries, mushrooms, pickles and preserves. I know many people have a big bag of cranberries (saskatoon berries, blueberries) stashed deep in their freezer, this is the time to haul them out!
Flavour Trader at the Museum Cafe Lunch Hours 11:30-2:30 Mon-Fri –
If you’re not lucky enough to have your own country food connections to seal from the NWT or Nunavut, you can purchase raw seal meat and many other seal products (the best omega-3 oil) from Quebec and Newfoundland online through www.seadna.ca.
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• 1 seal loin • 2 Tbsp clarified butter or any high smokepoint oil (i.e. canola or grapeseed oil) • ¼ lb butter • Salt and pepper
1. H eat a heavy bottomed pan on medium-high.
depending on the thickness of the loin.
2. L ightly season the seal with salt and pepper.
5. Flip and add the butter, baste the loin with the butter and let cook for another 1-3 mins.
3. P our your oil/fat into the pan and place the seal directly in. 4. S ear for 1-3 minutes
6. Remove from the pan and let rest for 8-10 minutes.
7. Warm the wild berries in a saucepan with a splash of water until heated through. 8. Slice the seal and serve immediately or let cool and serve cold.
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THOSE '70s STORIES
Two urgent calls for help Glenn Smith was barely out of his teens when he arrived in Yellowknife in the early ‘70s looking for work and adventure. In short order he was hired to participate in one of the world’s most infamous search and rescue efforts, the downed aircraft of Marten Hartwell. But it was another man’s call for help that continues to haunt him to this day by GLENN SMITH Yellowknife, Fall 1972 THE MINES at that time were not hiring so I found a job building houses in town with a small crew. I had done house construction as a summer job while going to school in Toronto, starting as a labourer and would be classified as a carpenter’s helper by this point. I was always good working with wood, having made my own "Minimax" speedboat from blueprints when I was 14. But it always made a mess of my hands so it was a love-hate type occupation.
We worked on a couple of houses and when the real winter cold came we moved inside and did the finishing work. In those days a finishing carpenter used hand tools and I learned from a real master. He was an young Inuit man and was probably a master carver, such was his touch. His approach to using hand tools was pure Zen: have the proper sharp tools and don’t fight it, let the tool do the work – a lesson that I still carry to this day and reformulate to many applications in my life. When our indoor jobs were finished, I was laid off. The Canadian Forces were asking for volunteers to be spotters on a search plane looking for a downed aircraft lost somewhere in the Barrenlands, the vast muskeg above the treeline leading up to the Arctic. The missing pilot had been preparing to leave Cambridge Bay and deadhead back to YK when he was flagged by an arriving plane and asked if he could take some passengers with him. There were two patients, a pregnant woman and a teenage boy from Taloyoak with appendicitis, and a nurse. They had to get to Yellowknife pronto. The pilot accepted the task and on November 8, 1972, off they
went. His bush plane was the only choice that day, but the problem was he didn’t yet have his night instrument flight qualifications, as I remember. That meant he was only qualified to fly in daylight with good visibility. This was the pre-GPS, magnetic compass era, which was hit-and-miss being so close to the pole, and they relied on radio beacons to guide them. There was some weather and the plane disappeared without a trace. We were told to be at the Yellowknife Inn early in the morning where a bus would shuttle us to the airport. The search plane would be going up every day, weather permitting, for a couple of weeks or till they were found. There were ten or 20 of us as we boarded a Hercules, the workhorse multi-prop cargo carrier of the military. The interior of the plane was basic, a cargo hold with some bench seating along the sides by the windows. Once in the air we got instructions on what to look for as we headed north to the Barrenlands. We flew in the dark until the first rays of dawn broke through. All I can say is that everyone should get to see that vista as the morning sun comes up once in their life. It looked like the Sahara Desert, white and endless beyond comprehension. Some of us spotters could take a turn on the "tailgate,” where they wrapped you in a sleeping bag wearing every stitch of clothing possible, tied you down to the rear cargo hatch and lowered the gate to a horizontal posture. As they flew low over the frozen tundra the tailgater's head was hanging directly over the edge with an unimpeded view of the terrain below. It was very cold and each shift lasted twenty minutes or so and I believe this thinned out the volunteer pool over time. We also took shifts spotting up front in the pilot’s cabin. I’ll never forgot the view from there as we seemed to hover over a very spooked large ungulate on the run in the deep snow, fighting with all his power to run from the noisy creature stalking him from above. I continued to spot on and off over the following weeks and we found nothing. Eventually the search was suspended. A week later a military plane picked up an emergency beacon and they found the crash site on December 7th, so far off course up by Great Bear Lake that our search efforts hadn’t even gotten close. The plane’s emergency beacon was suddenly turned on after 30 days. The pilot and the boy were the only ones who survived the crash after a few days. The pilot had broken both ankles and a knee on impact and was immobile, so the boy had handled all the tasks necessary for survival but died after a few weeks. Everyone in YK knew that the food on board was minimal and that surviving the extreme cold would demand many calories. The unlikely rescue drew international attention and Yellowknife was flooded with media, mostly looking for the gory details about how the pilot survived. Eventually it came out that the May/June 2019
Left: Coroner Walter England released this picture of the makeshift camp where Marten Hartwelll spent 32 days. Right: A photo of pilot Marten Hartwell from March 5, 1975. Photos courtesy United Press International.
pilot had resorted to cannibalism and none of us were surprised. It was the only option to live, but the boy, 14-year-old David Pisurayak Kootook, had refused and consequently died 20 days into the ordeal. That pilot’s name was Marten Hartwell and his search and rescue remains one of the most famous in the world. It created quite a stir and Stompin’ Tom Connors wrote a song about it. The mystery was solved, but something else happened to me shortly after that I still have no explanation for. They say strange things happen in the land of the midnight sun but it might be more appropriate to say strange things can happen to us when there is not enough sun. During the winter solstice, when the sun shows itself about 11 a.m. and feebly skirts the horizon till it disappears around 3 p.m., you spend more and more time indoors because of the cold. You have to keep busy as there’s a lot of time to overthink your way into psychological trouble. A lot of the men who would stay at the Pentecostal Church beside my shack, under the care of the kind-hearted Rev. Gordon and Ruth Bailey, were the same cast of characters, on and off the drinking wagon and bounced off their local couch circuit due to their misspent ways. Most were decent guys when not drinking, who just needed a place to stay. Living next door to the church and not being religious meant that sometimes the boys would come over to my place and sneak a drink or hang out. They didn’t want to disappoint the Reverend and I was okay with one or two civilized beers, knowing that most of them didn’t really want to quit the alcohol that held them in limbo. And I didn’t want to disappoint the Reverend either but life isn’t perfect. A young Indigenous guy around my age named Henry showed up at the church one day and his situation really cried out for help. Henry’s disposition could be summed up in one line, “as the wind blows.” He would follow whatever
influence entered his world at that moment with total abandon. He was something I hadn’t seen, a young guy on his own who had no control and was on a certain collision course. Even the older wizened hangabouts were concerned. He sniffed glue, gas, anything to get high, all the time with a sweet smile on his face. Once he came out of the Baileys washroom smelling like the "great outdoors" after spraying most of a can of Lysol room deodorizer into his mouth. But he was a real nice guy when he was sober and I liked chatting with him. He wanted to know about growing up in Toronto and I wanted to know about his native upbringing. We were both young and became friends. Maybe he thought I was his best pal who didn’t get stoned with him and I was probably the only one. I was really pulling for him to get his shit together, but he couldn’t help himself from his destructive behaviour. There was an impending doom about him that substance abuse would amplify very quickly and dangerously. One night I woke up in bed violently while having fits of uncontrollable coughing like I was gagging on something. It was out of the blue as my health was fine and persisted for a half an hour or so. It was very uncomfortable, and I was really getting worried when it subsided and sheepishly I went back to bed. The next day I heard that Henry was at a drinking party and died drowning in his own vomit. When I heard the estimated time of death the timeline was close to my gagging spell which I was still trying to figure out. I was shaken when I heard the news but not surprised that he had lost it. And it seemed that my violent attack in the middle of the night had a reason for happening. That was forty-five years ago and I’ve asked myself many times, did that really happen? Was my mind playing tricks, was I looking for a supernatural experience? Had I embellished history over time? I had never really told anyone about it because it sounded far-fetched but that’s how I have always remembered it. Somehow, he sent out an emergency beacon and I picked it up. I can’t believe it was a coincidence and it will remain a mystery to me. This is the third installment in Glenn Smith’s series Those ‘70s Stories. You can read them all at edgenorth.ca
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What will climate change do to our cool city?
by JESS DUNKIN ON MARCH 23, Yellowknife’s beloved Snowcastle
was forced to close for the season a full week ahead of schedule after seven days of unseasonably warm temperatures. Winter roads around the territories suffered a similar fate, stranding travellers and leaving communities without vital resources. These are just two observable impacts of climate change. Others include shifts in plant, insect, and animal distribution, thawing permafrost, an increase in wildfires, and more extreme weather events.
Since 1957, the average annual temperature in Yellowknife has risen 2°C, with much of that warming (~3°C) happening in winter. Global temperature rise in the same period was 0.6°C and 1.1°C since the Industrial Revolution. At present, the North is warming faster than many climate models predict.
So what happens next? THE PARIS AGREEMENT The Paris Agreement is an environmental accord adopted in December 2015 that calls for signatory countries, including Canada, to reduce emissions in order to limit global temperature rise to 2°C above pre-industrial levels (though efforts are encouraged to limit temperature increase to 1.5°C). Scientists believe that beyond the 2-degree threshold, the global impacts of climate change are likely to be “severe, pervasive and irreversible.”
How hot will it get? BUSINESS AS USUAL (HIGH EMISSIONS) In a business as usual or high emissions scenario, Yellowknife could see an additional 2 degree rise in temperature in the immediate future (2021-2050) and an 8 degree increase by 2100, though complicating factors like a global decline in cloud cover could result in an even greater jump.
MEDIUM EMISSIONS Even if signatories to the Paris Agreement meet their existing pledges (and many are not on track to do so), we can still expect an increase of 2.5-3 degrees globally by 2100 because these pledges, which are voluntary, are not aggressive enough. With Yellowknife warming at three times the global average, the medium emissions scenario estimates at least a 6.5 degree increase here by century’s end.
ZERO EMISSIONS A recent UN report contends that even if global emissions were halted immediately, winter temperatures in the Arctic would still increase 4-5°C by 2100 because of greenhouse gases already emitted and ocean heat storage. The increase may be somewhat tempered in subarctic Yellowknife, but the point is clear.
The Impacts WINTER Most climate models predict shorter, warmer winters for Yellowknife and much of the North. Fewer cold days will affect the formation and persistence of ice, which will make travel on the land more perilous. As we have seen in recent years, the erosion of winter affects hunters, skiers, and ice road truckers alike.
SUMMER Though we will continue to see dry and wet summers, these cycles will be more intense. We can also expect more summers like 2018 when Yellowknife broke rainfall records and flooded basements made headlines.
HEALTH Less or different kinds of wild meat and harvested plants will impact the health of local residents dependent on country food. With unchecked climate change, we can also expect to see a rise in vectorborne illness, like Lyme Disease and West Nile Virus.
A longer open water season will result in greater evaporation and more dramatic swings in water levels, though on the whole, local water levels are expected to continue to decline. Fishers will see an increase in warm water species like northern pike and less whitefish and lake trout. Even with declining water levels, the big lake will remain an important source of freshwater.
FORESTS Warmer temperatures, increased precipitation, permafrost loss, and more extreme fire events are and will continue to transform local forests. A study from the University of Alaska predicts that in a high emissions scenario Yellowknife forests in 2100 will look like those in Peace River today, though it’s unclear if our soils can support this change. More extreme wildfire seasons, like the Summer of Smoke (2014), will affect the physical and mental health of Yellowknifers.
Nearby caribou populations
have experienced drastic declines in recent decades. Extirpation is almost assured in both medium and high emissions scenarios, a devastating outcome for Dene, for whom caribou is much more than a food source. Moose populations are expected to suffer a similar fate, though over a longer period. As ranges shift with a warming climate, biologists predict an increase in “invasive species” like deer, which bring other challenges, such as chronic wasting disease.
Climate change could result
in increased agricultural productivity in the NWT, though this is more likely in places like Hay River and Fort Simpson than in Yellowknife, where our rocky topography and nutrient poor soils limit large-scale agriculture.
Sources: Climate Atlas of Canada (Prairie Climate Centre); Chloe Dragon-Smith; Environment and Natural Resources, GNWT; Environment Canada; Sam Gamble; Courtney Howard; Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; Nature Geoscience; Kevin O’Reilly; Andrew Robinson; Fred Sangris; Craig Scott; Jim Sparling; Daniel T’seleie; United Nations Environment Programme; University of Alaska Fairbanks; Chris Vaughn; William Gagnon, Ecology North.
Already we are seeing
the impacts of degrading permafrost around town as roads and runways rise and fall, water and sewer mains burst, and buildings sink, resulting in more frequent and costly maintenance. Increased snow loads because of warmer, wetter snow, pose particular challenges for the roofs and foundations of buildings constructed for a dry climate, while forest fires will affect critical infrastructure like transmission lines. Rising temperatures will further complicate safe arsenic storage at Giant Mine.
Becoming Climate Leaders Clearly, we need to aggressively decarbonize. An expansion of local hydro, electrified transportation, and the use of wood pellets/ chips for heat are all important and feasible goals, as is a rapid increase in public and active transportation. The city has already taken steps in the right direction. There is a growing network of trails in Yellowknife that supports self-propelled commuters. The multiplex, fieldhouse, public works garage, city warehouse, and firehall are all being heated by wood pellets – an environmentally and fiscally responsible move. Scandinavian countries have taken this a step further by capturing the carbon released by biomass heating systems and returning it to the ground. The result is negative carbon emissions. A new study by Ecology North shows that retrofitting homes for better fuel efficiency has tremendous potential to reduce carbon emissions while also growing the northern economy. Improvements in insulation and weatherproofing, and the installation of solar panels and energy efficient doors, windows, heaters, and appliances have the added benefit of reducing energy costs for homeowners. Ecology North estimates a retrofit program would generate 87 jobs and $11.8 million in GDP gains in each year the program operates.
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A DENE PERSPECTIVE ON CLIMATE CHANGE Fred Sangris is a former Chief of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation (N’dilo) and now works as its community negotiator. As a cultural historian, trapper and hunter, Sangris has witnessed many changes in the land over the past fifty-plus years. Jess Dunkin spoke with him about those changes. WHAT CHANGES TO THE CLIMATE HAVE YOU OR OTHER YELLOWNIVES DENE OBSERVED? When the Elders were young, it was in the ‘50s and ‘60s in the winter. You could hear the trees and the willows cracking and the ice making all kinds of crackling sounds because of the extreme cold. Today, the land is quiet in winter because it’s not as cold. We’ve noticed lakes and ponds disappearing because the permafrost that keeps the water contained is melting. This is a huge loss for us because it’s where we canoe and where we harvest medicines like rat root and animals like beaver. It means we have to find other places for these things and usually we have to go farther away. We’re not the only ones affected by the warming weather. The animals are too. Caribou used to come to Yellowknife Bay. Now they stay on the tundra because it’s warmer there and there’s less snow, so it’s easier for them to get food. The migration of animals will continue. We have seen cougars near Yellowknife. Salmon are coming up the Mackenzie River. Deer are moving north, so are the buffalo. Muskox are supposed to be on the tundra, but they live in the forest now.
WHAT ARE THE ELDERS SAYING ABOUT THESE CHANGES? Elders always talk about weather, climate change, the future, their fears. They wonder: Is the sun getting hotter? Is the earth getting tired? What will happen to our people? A few years ago, I was sitting with Michel Paper. Michel passed when he was 99 years old. He told me that in 100 years, we may be paddling on Great Slave Lake in the middle of winter. I think of that a lot now because the winters are changing. The ice isn’t as thick and there is more open water in the creeks and on the big lake. ARE THERE OTHER PROPHECIES RELATED TO CLIMATE CHANGE? Around 500 years ago, a prophet from the shores of Great Bear Lake called all the Dene to the lake. He had a message. The prophet spoke of the great changes that were coming. He said strangers will come from the south with red hair and beards and slowly the land will be destroyed. The prophet also spoke of a time farther into the future when money will blow in the streets and the land will be contaminated. Water will be more valuable than gold and people will hurt each other for things like
water and food. When this happens, he told the people, make your way to Great Bear Lake and you will be OK. One of the reasons the Elders think passing on traditional knowledge and skills to the young people is so important is because of these prophecies. The young people need to know how to survive on the land. IS THERE ANYTHING WE CAN DO TO SLOW CLIMATE CHANGE? We have to get off fossil fuels. Four years ago I switched to a wood stove. It’s good to get out for firewood. I spend time outside and I’m staying active. It’s harder to stop using cars and snowmobiles, but we could have better and free bus service here. And the young people have been asking about dog teams. I remember going by dog team to the East Arm for a caribou hunt in 1975 – there were about 30 dog teams in our camp. Dog teams can haul a lot, but they can also tell you if the ice is safe and they can help if you’re lost. And they don’t break down! HOW ARE THE YELLOWKNIVES DENE ADAPTING TO THESE CHANGES? The hunters and the monitors are the eyes and ears of the community. At community meetings and gatherings, we share information with one another. Two years ago, the Yellowknives Dene started a mapping project. We are putting the information hunters and monitors are sharing, like rivers and creeks that are risky for travel, on maps, so we can be safe when we go out. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. May/June 2019
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Transformation Going from able-bodied woman to multiple amputee meant seeking out places to find healing and belonging. Sometimes, that place is Yellowknife.
Story by THERESE ESTACION Photos by ANGELA GZOWSKI
Therese Estacion became a bilaterial below the knee and partial hand amputee after succumbing to an extremely rare, and often fatal, bacteria.
got sick,” is what I usually tell people when they ask me, “What happened to you?”
upper digits of both my left and right hands were amputated.
It was August of 2016 when this major, transformative life event occurred. That summer, while travelling home from Tofino, B.C. with my partner, I caught a rare bug named fusobacterium necroforum. Actually, the bug could have been inside of me the whole time. Dormant and still. My doctors could not give me an exact timeline as to how I came in contact with the bug, or our point of interaction for that matter. But what they did say was less than three people out of a million contract the bacteria, and when they do, only 20 percent of us ever survive. In my case, the bacteria caused my body to go into septic shock and proceeded to attack my reproductive organs, which led to an emergency hysterectomy. I was just 33 years old.
I was not born with a disability. I was born able bodied and went through a radical physical transformation. Before my transformation, I was working with the Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board as an elementary school teacher and lived independently in Toronto’s west end. I was able bodied, energetic and free. All of a sudden, my life was paused. My body, which was once a strong and capable machine, became weak and dependent on others. In some ways, I had regressed to a state of infancy. I had to integrate into a world that was not made for people with disabilities.
The events that followed have become fragmented and hazy since I was unconscious for the most part. However, I was told that the evening I was admitted, my partner was advised to phone my parents and tell them to fly to Trail, B.C., and say their goodbyes. Somehow, my body stabilized, but, with the aim of keeping me alive, my doctors administered high doses of blood pressure medication to pump blood away from my extremities and into the more important parts of my body – my vital organs and brain. As a result, my extremities slowly became necrotic.
In total, I spent six months in the hospital system. I bounced around from hospital to hospital with my necrotic feet and fingers until I was finally admitted to West Park Rehabilitative Hospital’s amputee unit in Toronto. By September, it was evident that my feet and fingers were unsalvageable and had to be amputated. Although this phase in my journey was incredibly surreal, it required a great deal of my energy to remain present. I knew that there was no use to being afraid since surgery was inevitable. Instead, I saw it as a task I was always meant to do. My sense of spirituality – which is influenced by the Catholic faith my parents raised me with, as well as animism and taoism – helped me accept the difficult transformation that was about to occur. However, there is no denying that my staunch support network, which includes my family, partner, friends, colleagues and psychotherapist, saved me from despondency and the perturbing thoughts I sometimes had. Throughout my whole stay in the hospital system, my parents missed only one day because of a snow storm. And instead, one of my best friends came and brought me dinner. The week before Christmas, my coworkers showed up to surprise me with Christmas carols and pizza.
In some ways, I’d regressed to a state of infancy.
And so, when my surgery dates approached, I was ready. on November 19, 2017, I went for my first round of amputations – my feet bilaterally below the knees. And on January 23, 2018, the
After my illness, I realized that in our world, ableism is an unchecked problem and was amazed at all of the structural barriers I encountered without my fingers and feet, or with a body that struggles to stand upright or bend down. Stairs, doorknobs, zippers and buttons, electrical sockets that are close to the floor, packaging and lids, and even the thin roll of toilet paper found in public washrooms that are sometimes too hard to pull apart, all require an insane amount of effort at times. It became evident that most spaces have yet to reflect the principles of universal design; a powerful concept which drives the notion that “what’s good for one is good for all” by ensuring that all spaces are barrier free. Since I moved to Yellowknife last fall, following my partner north after he landed a good job, I’ve discovered the wilderness and harsh Arctic climate make striving for the ideal of accessibility and universal design even more challenging. There is no circumventing Franklin Street’s hill, the icy parts of the sidewalk or the uneven, melted layers of snow that become a serious tripping hazard for me, and many others, in the springtime. Despite being a smaller city, Yellowknife has great infrastructure and many businesses continued on p.26
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that have been around for years could seize the opportunity to work towards making their spaces more accessible. Take Old Town for example. A handful of eclectic stores with outstanding reputations exist there. I have been in these stores and have thought, ‘Why aren’t they more accessible?’ If someone can build a house on a floating raft in freezing temperatures or a whole castle against the frigid wind, then someone can surely build a ramp – to code – to make these spaces more accessible. Or at least, shop owners can create designated accessible parking spots and ensure their steps and lots are well graveled. Old Town and its houseboats are not the only things that make this city unique. For a city with close to 20,000 people, there are a surprising number of events being offered all year round. From festivals to free workshops, burlesque shows and trivia nights, there is always something to do in YK. But your options become severely limited if you have a disability. These problems are not unique to the North. The marginalization of people with disabilities happens everywhere, but up here accessibility legislation is lacking. There is no formal accessibility act, unlike most provinces in Canada. In Ontario, for example, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disability Act exists to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities by creating standards and regulations through various policies at the provincial level. The AODA acts as a guide for both persons with and without disabilities. Yellowknife is a diverse and lively city with programs created like “Ladies Only Swim Nights” to help accommodate women of the Islamic faith, and paneled discussions entitled “Decolonizing the Media.” This is no backwater. There is momentum here. Surely an accessibility act would reflect the community’s desire for growth and inclusion? Still, the wild persists. It is nature that continues to test the resiliency and resourcefulness of all individuals. This is still a place that makes you realize that zipping up your coat can take you up to five minutes – and walking up and down the Old Town hill can seem like a trek to Mt. Everest. This community defiantly sits in the subarctic taiga, on the edge of a landmass that makes you wonder, “What is Canada and who can really own this land?”
For people with physical disabilities, that is also a question we face wherever we go. Across Canada, we – and many others – are faced with the question of belonging. Where do I and how can I belong despite encountering spaces that say, “You cannot enter” or “You may enter, but at your own discomfort.” A friend recently told me, “You’ve been frostbitten,” meaning that the North has nipped my heels the way a sun dog seems to stop people from going about their business, asking them to slow down and enjoy the meteorological phenomenon. And yes, I have been nipped, despite my grievances. It happened the moment I stepped foot out of the airport and was met by the dry arid air. At first, I came as a tourist. But after several months of flying back and forth from Toronto, I started to realize that the North was a place where I could find deep healing. This was a space full of fresh expansiveness and rawness; a great beauty and undeniable trauma seem to coexist here. You cannot ignore one and only live with the other. The wilderness will always find a way to give you the reality check or healing you need, even if it is for a moment. On Dene land, one can be mesmerized by the dancing fluorescent photons, or take a peek beneath the crevices of the cracking ice under the circumpolar sky. My hope is that someday soon, all individuals can experience that feeling of being reunited with the profound when they come to this land, regardless of their ability. a woman walks on the ice road she peeks into a crack silence is sitting with all the other sounds
Therese Estacion's hands became necrotic and required partial amputations after doctors administered high doses of blood pressure medication to pump blood away from her extremities and her vital organs and brain in order to save her life.
n Yellowknife EducatEio life! r fo g n ti a c u d .1 o N District Administration scolaire de district no 1 de Yellowknife vie! Une education pour la Top notch schools and excellent programs for all children! Come grow with us at YK1! - Junior Kindergarten & Kindergarten programs - Montessori programming - Advanced placement courses - French Immersion for Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12 - Intensive French Program - Indigenous Education - Sports Academies
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THE LAST CONTINENT Story by TOM MCLENNAN and ARIEL HOLMWOOD-BRAMWELL Photos by TOM MCLENNAN
Tom McLennan left his YK houseboat for a tent in Antarctica, fulfilling a dream to fly in polar opposite ends of the world. He shares his story and photographs.
Mac McCoy, engineer for C-FTFX, stands atop the plane in Antarctica whose call sign was passed down from the Bristol Freighter that greets guests on their way into Yellowknife.
leavE Yellowknife on a cold dark January morning. Before me lies a dream come true; the opportunity to fly a Twin Otter in Antarctica. I’m trading a subarctic winter for an Antarctic summer, five hours of daylight for twenty-four. Aside from warmer weather, I don’t know what awaits or whether I’ll have contact with friends and family. Nonetheless I’m excited. The last continent awaits. Four flights and 28,000 kilometres later, I step off a private jet in Antarctica. There’s a silence. I hear the breeze, the groomed snow crunching under my feet, and the tourists’ excited chatter. The magnitude of what I’m doing hit me on the flight from Vancouver to Hong Kong. These thoughts were pushed aside on the following flight to Cape Town, South Africa, but now they’re back with full force. As I watch the jet leave the icy runway, nerves and excitement fight for control. Like being dropped off on a riverbank at the start of a whitewater canoe trip, we’re on our own now. It’s time to head to camp and see my new home. The camp is called Wolf’s Fang, after the mountain that dominates the horizon to the south. I’m here flying for White Desert, a South African tourist company catering to the rich and famous. Our job is to fly clients between camps, taking them on scenic tours through mountains that look like the set of a Lord of the Rings movie and to shuttle fuel to keep the operation running. An endless sheet of white peppered with massive rocks surrounds Wolf’s Fang. These rocks are nunataks, the summits of mountains peaking through thousands of feet of ice. The horizon plays havoc on perspective; the Henrickson nunatak near camp looks close enough to throw a rock at, but no, it’s an hour’s hike away. The midnight sun reflects off ice and snow in all directions.
Fuel drums line the snow by the fuel depot, the Antarctic Ocean visible in the distance. These drums were used by the operators in the area and would be removed at the end of the season.
A penguin sits on the rocks at Rothera, icebergs in the distance. Proof that these pictures were taken in Antarctica and not in the Canadian North.
Wolf’s Fang mountain, as seem from the cockpit of C-FTFX. It really did look like the set of a Lord of the Rings movie.
Julie Green MLA Yellowknife Centre
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Chef Sebastian, serves elaborate meals such as salmon and caviar, even after the guests have all gone home.
In my free time I did what I normally do in winter in Yellowknife: I strapped on my cross country skis. The only snow around was the stiff ice crystals the crew chopped up to provide a smooth runway for the planes.
T A view of the camp: staff tents, mess tent, and machinery. A colleague built a fortress of ice blocks around his tent to ward off the wind that rattles the tent and keeps us all awake.
The bathroom at the fuel depot is reminiscent of the elaborate thrones at the Snowking castle in Yellowknife. At times we would spend the night at the fuel depot when bad weather prevented us from flying back to camp.
his is home: three sea cans; seven fancy heated weather havens for the clients and a large industrial one for our mess tent. The rest of the clients stay at a camp nearby (like the NWT “nearby” in Antarctica is 130 kilometres). As for the staff, we sleep in small tents, the type you would use to camp off the Ingraham Trail. These tents were stored at a nearby cache in the late ‘90s and were soon buried in the ice. Twenty years later, they have a second life and are none the worse for wear. The constant sun forces me from my sleeping bag by 7 a.m. and I get flashbacks to camping at Reid Lake or Big Hill. The camp has a weather haven for a bathroom. Like the houseboat I live on back home, there’s a bucket for number one. A waterless, compacting toilet called a Pacto serves for number two. To get around, we drive old snowmobiles, Yamaha VKs. Like the tents, these were also rescued from the ice at camp after twenty years. We spend our days flying, hanging out in the mess tent, or hiking and skiing. When clients are around, the staff squeeze into the kitchen part of the tent to give them privacy. We’re an international crew, hailing from Canada, South Africa, France, Australia, New Zealand and Russia. We share stories with the same fervour we use to dig into Chef Sebastian’s meals of chicken pot pie, ostrich, or caviar. continued on p. 34
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n Antarctica, I find myself at the
controls of a special Twin Otter, call sign C-FTFX. Otherwise known as Tango Foxtrot X-ray, this plane came to Yellowknife straight from the factory in 1971. Its call sign was passed on from a plane Yellowknifers may recognize - the Bristol Freighter that greets you as you arrive in town. This plane first operated for Max Ward at Wardair then for Ptarmigan Airways, First Air, Arctic Sunwest, and finally, Summit. It had never left town, until now. A few months before, it had been flown down the Americas and over to Antarctica, the same route I would use to return it to Canada at the end of the season. If there's a plane that symbolizes Yellowknife it's the C-FTFX. And yet, here it was, at the opposite end of the world. By the end of January the sun starts to dip below the horizon at night. The season is halfway done and I’m beginning to think of home. Without
C-FTFX stands at the ready. Equipped with “straight boards”, these skis let us land just about anywhere on the continent.
access to email or cell phones, an inReach and limited sat phone time are my connections to home. I’ll never forget a message that came to that inReach: “They’re dead hun.” A message from my partner, Ariel, letting me know that fellow pilots Zach McKillop and Will Hayworth were gone. They were incredible people and I was lucky to call them friends. The aviation community in Yellowknife is a big family and their loss hit hard. In the days that follow I’m thankful for the technology that allows me to speak to Ariel and a few close pilot friends in Yellowknife. Their tired voices on our spotty sat phone are invaluable to me. It's hard to be away in moments like these. continued on p. 36
A reminder of home hangs in the mess tent. Like many of the pilots in Antarctica, this licence plate had once resided in the Northwest Territories.
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The ridge of a mountain, its narrow spine reaching into the sky roughly a five-minute flight from camp.
inter is coming to Antarctica and
the weather will soon make it impossible to fly. We pack up camp and fly the C-FTFX back to Canada. When we stop to refuel at Rothera, the British base on the Antarctic Peninsula, we meet pilots from across the continent on the same journey back to Canada. Many of them had flown in the North prior to testing the skies in Antarctica; some I even knew from Yellowknife. Returning home is an adventure in itself, flying up South America, the Caribbean and the U.S. After two months in a place I never thought I’d get a chance to see and after a few stops along the way I’m back in my home on Akaitcho Bay. Ariel and I are hosting friends for a bonfire. The horizon is painted that subtle northern gold as the sun sets and I’m enjoying every second of it. Antarctica also has some spectacular scenery, but as I turn around and see my friends, I realize this is hands down the best view for me right now.
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The Basler, a converted DC3, sits off the runway at camp, silhouetted by the sunset as winter approaches. This plane was used to shuttle clients around Antarctica.
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As it celebrates 40 years as a hub of NWT culture and history, the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre is bursting at its seams, quite literally. Its archives are full so boxes of materials are gathering in other buildings, ceilings are cracked and leaking, poor heating and air conditioning threaten the preservation of items. A $400,000 study is underway to see what’s required to take the crumbling building into the next 40 years. Director Sarah Carr-Locke sat down with EDGE YK editor Laurie Sarkadi to talk about its past and the future.
place passed with flying colours. Bob Janes is actually very famous in the museum world now so it’s pretty exciting to me to say that he got his start here. He told me, interestingly, that we were one of the first museums to use firstperson narratives on the exhibit labels. A lot of museums will have an expert curatorial voice, right, where it’s experts talking about what they know about Dene culture or whoever. But we have always tried to make sure that communities are speaking about themselves. WHAT ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF THAT TYPE OF COLLABORATION, OF HOW WE ARE DIFFERENT FROM OTHER MUSEUMS?
The Yellowknives Dene exhibit was a really meaningful one for me. We worked really closely and they made decisions every step of the way of what they wanted to see and how
( This interview has been edited for length and clarity) EDGE YK: THE PRINCE OF WALES OPENED THIS HERITAGE CENTRE ON APRIL 4, 1979. WHY DID SUCH A RELATIVELY SMALL PLACE IN CANADA NEED A MUSEUM?
The reason for the founding of this place was to keep northern art and culture in the North. Because the NWT was also Nunavut at the time there was a lot of Inuit art. Inuit art was very popular in the ‘60s which was great for communities and great for profile around the country and stuff like that, but what was happening is that northerners didn’t have access to that art. One of the founding collections was from the Department of Indian and Northern and Affairs at the time and that was kind of repatriated to us when we opened. There was also a collection that came from this sort of mini museum before this place was built that was run by volunteers and a board called the Museum of the North. It was where Northern Images is now in that little blue building. And then the third reason was to create a place to base northern archeology and research out of so that archeological artifacts weren’t all going south as well. We have the NWT Archives in here which is also important to our founding, so it was really about making sure that northerners had access to their own culture and heritage. DO YOU THINK IT’S SUCCEEDING?
Yeah, I do. I came up here to do a study of it as a PhD student in 2013. My dissertation topic was about looking at collaborations between Indigenous peoples and museums and how museums work with Indigenous people to represent themselves in exhibits and this
Sarah Carr-Locke poses in front of an exhibit at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre. The museum's director says the 40-year-old building is in desperate need of renovations. Photo by Angela Gzowski.
they wanted to communicate about themselves. And something that I think is really special that we’ve done is this place is concentrated on cultural revival a little bit more than most. For example, Gwich'in seamstresses going down to the Canadian Museum of Civilization and visiting an item in a museum collection for the purposes of relearning how to make that outfit. And we had the caribou skin lodge that was collected in the Tlicho region, ends up in Iowa and ends up being one of two remaining in the world because it was an item that would deteriorate out on the land for normal use. When the elders in the community saw it they wanted to make replicas of it too so that they would now revive their knowledge about how to make it. When you get to see the lodge with a descendent of the person who made it that makes it so much more moving.
THAT’S POSSIBLE LARGELY BY VIRTUE OF THE FACT THAT PEOPLE HERE ARE STILL PRACTICING THEIR CULTURE, OR HAVE KNOWLEDGE OF IT, IN WAYS THAT MIGHT NOT BE HAPPENING IN A MAJOR URBAN CENTRE.
I think you’re right. What makes this place special, what’s a privilege to the museum people here, is the access to communities, right, and that’s like a two-way privilege where this wasn’t built as a place for white people to come and learn about Indigenous people, it was a place always built with the communities themselves. HOW MUCH OF WHAT YOU HAVE STORED HERE DOES THE PUBLIC ACTUALLY GET TO SEE?
I think someone crunched the numbers recently and I think 4.5 to 5 percent of our collection is on display right now. It’s definitely a stat that shocks a lot of people. That is very average so most museums have about 5 percent. We really have two functions and one is to put things out and tell a story; the other function is to keep things safe so that researchers and communities and the public can see some of those objects in a hundred, two hundred years...like the lodge that I was talking about.
Top: A 52 million year old metasequoia tree trunk discovered at Ekati Mine is proof the Arctic once was warm and part of the museum's behind-the -scenes collection. Bottom: The NWT Archives holds thousands of documents like this, but it's running out of space. Photos courtesy Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre.
We have archeology too so if anybody does any kind of archeology in the NWT we’re the official repository. Sometimes that means a banker’s box full of tiny little flakes or pieces of animal bone so those are counted as artefacts but they’re not interesting, you know, as something for the public to see (laughs). WHAT’S THE OLDEST THING YOU HAVE?
I know we have a dinosaur type fossil, an ichthyosaur jaw, that’s 110-million years old, found near Hay River. We have a metasequoia tree trunk piece that was found I think at Ekati that’s 52 million years old. So a sequoia tree is a warm weather tree, that it was found in the NWT shows you how different the climate was May/June 2019
Photos courtesy Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre.
Abovet: A 110-million year-old ichthyosaur jaw, belonging to a dolphin-like aquatic reptile, was found near Hay River. Right: A 2500-year-old pair of sealskin boots are a prized part of the museum's collection.
here 52 million years ago. Somebody there knew that it was significant and called us. That’s also the kind of thing we’d like to show people if we’re taking them on a tour, but it’s not really something we can put out. It’s too fragile. It’s not fossilized. I’m sure there’s all sorts of neat stuff coming out from those mines. We have this sealskin boot that’s 2500 years old and is a really, really special object in our collection but it’s just too fragile to be out. AND YOU’RE RUNNING OUT OF ROOM FOR ALL THIS STUFF?
One of the areas that we’re really constrained in is storage space, both for the archives, a little bit less for the museum collections, but we’re a 40-year-old building. We had a little renovation through the office spaces but it didn’t create more storage space for objects. A really important aspect of collection storage is the conditions of the storage areas so you have to have specific ventilation, temperature
control, light control, you have to make sure things are being stored safely and sometimes that means you don’t just throw things on a shelf, you have to create supports and all that. But yah, we’re a great building but we are getting old. I always cringe at the front steps that are deteriorating a bit and there are building issues and you know I think some of it is getting visible – the little cracks and leaks and those kind of things. But our most urgent issue is just expanding that storage and making sure that we are providing the right kind of facility to keep that stuff safe. WHAT ARE YOU HOPING TO SEE HAPPEN IN THE NEXT FEW YEARS?
I'm hoping that at the end of the building study there’s a plan for what would it look like to be able to have all the things we need together in one place, whether that looks like renovating this place up, or expanding outside, it’s way too early to tell. But we’re looking for someone who is
experienced in museum planning to really dig into all of that with us during this building study. Looking at what the collection’s needs are, what the programming needs are, what the building needs are. I’d like to work towards having a lot more of our collection online – we have 75,000 objects on the objects showcase – because you really want people to feel that this collection belongs to them. I also want to honour why this place was founded and what we’ve been doing and to continue all those traditions to the future. I hope that when people are in town at the hospital or picking up supplies or stuck here in a snowstorm or whatever it is, that they feel that this place belongs to them too.
Home for the summer? Get a checkup and hygiene before you head back to school. Call 873-2775 to book your appointment today!
Box 1118, 5209 Franklin Avenue,Yellowknife, NT X1A 2N8 24-hr Emergency: 873-1250 | P: 873-2775 | F: 920-2775 May/June 2019
Basketball NWT is partnering with the YK Golf Club to host the first annual BNWT Fundraiser golf event Friday August 9th at 12pm. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re a non-profit territorial sport organization aimed at growing the sport of basketball in the Northwest Territories. With the help of BNWT, basketball across the North has begun to take off in recent years and we have more youth athletes playing and learning the sport than ever before! With your help, our youth athletes will continue to receive the skill development, proper coaching and proper equipment needed to develop not only as athletes but as young men and women who will contribute back to their communities. To learn more about how you can help and possible sponsorship options, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org today! 42 EDGEYK
GAMBLE ON BUSINESS
Tradable vs. Non-tradable industries Why a new Virtual Reality studio could work in YK by SAM GAMBLE TWO YEARS AGO my son and I wandered into a Virtual
Reality studio in Ottawa, kicking off a very expensive habit. VR studios are popping up all over the south and are fast becoming the young generation’s arcades. Of course, as an entrepreneur, I can’t simply enjoy the experience – my brain starts ticking along: would this business work in Yellowknife?
If it seems like the business model would work here, I create a financial model to determine the profitability and investment requirements. Those numbers are based on revenue and cost assumptions, which are only as good as my understanding of the local economy. I believe the best model for understanding the northern economy is through the lens of a small rentier state. Rentier states are an economic term for jurisdictions that receive a high proportion of their income from an outside source, regardless of the productivity of its population. For the NWT, that source of external income is the large federal government transfers, which distort the structure of the economy in two ways that directly affect businesses. The first is that wages are pushed upward by well-paying government jobs. As a business owner, you are always competing with the large public sector employers. The second distortion is that the economy will skew toward nontradable industries at the expense of tradable industries. Tradable industries include goods and services that could easily be imported and exported – things like manufacturing, financial services, agriculture, forestry, high tech, film and TV production. I worry when I see plans for northern businesses that sell things we can easily buy for less from elsewhere. It never goes well for us, and we never seem to learn. Non-tradable industries need, realistically, to be carried out on location by local labour. These include government (and services to government), health care, tourism, retail, education and construction. That’s the kind of business that does well in Yellowknife, and as long as we are a rentier economy, those are the industries that will thrive here.
While the cost of a new car in Yellowknife is exactly equal to the cost of a car in Edmonton plus shipping (tradable), the cost of haircut depends on the local labour market (non-tradable). These categories are not completely static. There is a large window of opportunity for businesses who manage to wrestle an industry from the non-tradable to the tradable category. The internet has disrupted many previously nontradable industries, like home entertainment, replacing movie rentals with Netflix. This is leading to the re-imagination of retail worldwide, not just the North. What successful local retailers have found is that offering the customer a great experience can ensure that you will never be replaced by a website. Your customers want to be able to see and touch the physical product, to interact with knowledgeable staff and to receive related services. Overlanders is a great example of this in Yellowknife. Like a dealer at a high stakes poker game, landlords like me get an interesting birdseye insight into business models that work – without necessarily playing in the game. Our company has a couple of dozen tenants operating a wide range of industries, including construction, tourism, education and health care. The one commonality among the most successful businesses is that they operate, to some extent, in non-tradable industries. Let Me Knot is a great example of a successful business operating in an industry that, at first glance, appears tradable. Sarah, the owner of Let Me Knot, has two business lines: retail flowers and event/wedding planning. While it might be feasible to order flowers from down south, a southern retailer couldn’t ensure the flowers would be delivered to Yellowknife in good condition. Similarly, a couple could probably find a wedding planner on an online marketplace like Fiverr, but Sarah from Let Me Knot will ensure the happy couple’s wedding takes place lakeside at Long Lake – and not at Fiddlers Lagoon. What looks like a consulting business is really more aligned with the tourism industry. So can your business idea survive against southern competition? Is it possible for Amazon to get into your business line? If not, you’re halfway there. If anyone would like to start a VR studio, it’s just the kind of non-tradable business that does well in Yellowknife. Come talk to me! Sam Gamble is a managing director of CloudWorks Adventure Capital, a Yellowknife-based real estate investment company. His column aims to explore the second and third order economic effects of decisions facing the North. May/June 2019
NWT ARTS ARTIST’S CORNER
gone fishing Charlotte Overvold saves fish bones and scales from the trash can and turns them into delicate wonders by SARAH SWAN
CHARLOTTE OVERVOLD’S kitchen doubles as her studio. The table is strewn with fish scales, glues, pigments. The freezer is full of trout and whitefish skeletons from Great Slave Lake. The best feature though, is her burbling, bright-eyed, six-month-old daughter Océane Snow, who is waving happy fists in the air and refusing to go down for her nap. The bustling kitchen-nursery-studio makes for a particularly accurate portrait of Overvold. For her, as an artist-activist-mother, there is no separation between art and life. Her daughter’s presence in the world has strengthened her commitment to learning the Dene traditions of fish scale art and fish bone butterflies. “My mother taught me this art from a young age, but I continue to search for new knowledge. It’s a part of me, but I’m also a visitor to it,” she says.
Overvold’s original home is Fort Good Hope, though she was raised in Yellowknife by her adoptive family. She studied Fine Arts and Social Work at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, B.C. “Having my daughter has
Left: Charlotte Overvold holds her pink butterfly made from whitefish bones on a birchbark background.
helped me feel re-born, in a way. I’ve been learning more about my identity. I say yes to all workshop invitations now, as it will help my daughter learn about her identity,” she says. Her profound respect for the art form is contagious. She shows me a relic from her childhood, a ziplock bag full of subtly-coloured fish scales, dyed with rosehips. She explains how plants were once used to dye the scales before the tradition was contemporized. At one point, artists began leaching the dye from torn tissue paper, and now it is most often bingo dabbers or Rit clothing dye that are used. The results are ultra-bright neon colourations, a unique pop-art/nature-art hybrid. Overvold layers tie-dye pigments and nail-salon hardeners in her own work, and she has pushed art in a new direction – vertebrae adornments with a definite punk-rock esthetic. “These are made for warriors,” she says, holding up a spiky pair of earrings, “but they are also delicate.” She places a tiny square of birchbark in my hand, on which one of her students, a child,
had glued a fish scale flower. The stem is made of a single, slightly curved fish rib. “I want to change the dialogue around fish bodies,” she says. “They should not be thought of as garbage. The bones and scales are so intricate and beautiful. We value the land. We can also value the gifts of the water.” Learn more about Charlotte Overvold’s art at nwtarts.com/artist-profile/charlotte-overvold
Top left: An intricate 3D scene consisting of a whitefish bone butterfly perched on a birchbark flower, fish scale covered birchbark cocoon, and grass accents made out of whitefish fish ribs. Top center: These dots on birchbark are earrings made from whitefish vertebrae. Top right: A whitefish bone butterfly with natural accents from the land.
Connect with artists and learn Where to Buy NWT Art at nwtarts.com
“I do,” I would counter.
“You are stupid.”
That is where I would stop defending myself. That is where he was right. It is a phrase I hear daily. Whether it be from friends, teachers, or my father himself. You are stupid. Sometimes it’s blunt, other times it’s hidden within the words being spoken, only visible as an underlying tone that doesn’t pass by me.
Reach for the Stars The winning fictional story from this year’s Northwords Youth Writers Contest by LAGURENH JANSE VAN RENSBURG Three judges from Yellowknife, Hay River and Inuvik selected this story about a resilient teen as the winner of a trip to the summer 2019 Youthwrite Camp in Calgary. Congratulations to author Lagurenh Janse van Rensburg, 17, of Yellowknife. A SLIGHT BREEZE blew my hair back. The only sounds were the crickets chirping and the whirl of the wheels from my bike rolling over dirt. The night air was cool, fresh, but it burned my lungs and stung my eyes. Trees towered over me, surrounding me. They blocked the little light I was given from the moon, but I wasn’t worried. I knew the trail like the back of my hand; every bump, every dip. Around me on the branches of trees hung rotten peaches, their sweet juices dripping to the ground. The smell intoxicated me, pulled me away from the judgmental father who slept soundly back at the house. It wasn’t until I got to the pond that the smell was replaced by one of wet earth and algae and fish. I didn’t slow down as my bike raced through the mud, a sucking sound following behind me. Mud flung up and splattered across my back and my legs. I had escaped through my bedroom window not even an hour ago. I had climbed through it, grabbed my bike, and pedalled like Hell was on my tail. There was only so much lecturing a person could take before they needed to find peace and serenity again. It was like this every time a report card was sent out. Every time there was a call home or a three-way conference. My father would huff the second he stomped through the door, loud enough for me to hear and my stomach to drop. He would find me in my room – locked away from the world – and begin throwing insults.
“You are lazy,” he would say.
“I am not,” I would respond.
“You don’t pay attention,” he would go on.
You should practice more.
Have you considered extra credit?
A tutor would help.
It had all started to sound the same to me.
My legs burned as I finally pedalled past the pond and onto hard dirt again. I stood, gaining speed as the meadow stretched out on flat ground. The stars watched me from above, keeping a careful eye on what I was doing. They beckoned me to a place I will never reach. With failed classes and barely passing grades, it wasn’t a surprise that people thought I didn’t have a single brain cell between my ears. The world would band together in spite, lashing me with words that stung my skin. Insults fired at me like torched arrows that burned through my flesh. They stuck inside me, the sharp points splintering and scratching my veins when I tried to pull them out. To save myself from crumbling apart, I built a shield. It protected me from the words that clawed at me, but unlike the unlimited supply of ammunition, my shield didn’t last forever. It split and it broke, sometimes falling to pieces. An afternoon picking peaches or pedalling to the meadow always sealed it back together. I stopped pedalling, the bike raced forward another couple yards before I was too still to balance. I climbed off, dropping the bike to the ground. I lied down in the grass and the stems itched my back. Throwing my arms behind my head, I stared back up to the stars. They call me stupid. They say I will never make it past high school. A smile dances across my lips, the stars gleam brighter as they move closer. I will prove them wrong. The insults my father throws at me, the disappointed teachers, the mocking friends. They can call me stupid, they can add fuel to the fire burning within me. I will set flame to the meadow, to the orchard. I will create my own star.
You’ll never get there, they will snarl.
I will reply, eyes narrowed, shield raised, and my own weapon crafted from burnt wood and melted steel in my hand: Watch me. The 2019 NorthWords NWT Festival will take place in and around Yellowknife from May 30 through June 2. For a complete schedule of authors, workshops and events go to northwordsnwt.com
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