Siku girl encounters Covid-19…on paper

Where did the time go? Since the beginning of March to now there has been one story in my life: COVID-19.

Here are all stories I wrote for Nunatsiaq News, which I am putting here as a reference as much for myself as for anyone else who is interested in the infection, or fear of the infection, throughout Canada’s North. It’s affected the entire region: people, education, travel, mining…

At a later time, I will probably organize these stories by themes. But for now, you can follow my reporting about COVID-19 from the bottom to top along with some of the photos I posted on Twitter.

Nunavut government urges residents to take “staycations” this summer

Face coverings become mandatory for airline workers

Federal funds to provide urban Inuit with country food

Nunavut monitoring health of elders in Ottawa facility after two staff test positive for COVID-19 

Ottawa announces $650M more for Indigenous needs during pandemic

Agnico Eagle plans phased return of Nunavut workers to its gold mines

 Montreal’s reopening increases COVID-19 risks for homeless, says Indigenous coalition

The cold and hot spots of COVID-19 in North America

Arctic conference considers the challenges posed by COVID-19

Western Nunavut businesses crying out for government help, says chamber of commerce

Plans to replace Kugluktuk’s new power plant delayed

Canada moves to bar most pleasure craft from Arctic waters

Baker Lake’s Abluqta Society sends out food for the hungry

Staff member tests positive for COVID-19 at Ottawa seniors home with Nunavut residents

Nunavut resident on medical travel tests positive for COVID-19

Canadian North “temporarily” suspends seat selection on many flights

Western Nunavut eatery reinvents itself to survive the pandemic

COVID-19 pandemic delays construction of Nunavut elders facility

To boost COVID-19 prevention efforts, more Nunavut hamlets adopt booze bans

Lost your job due to the pandemic? Quebec housing corp. to help with rent

Nunavut’s Hope Bay goldfields to be bought by China’s SD Gold

Nunavut teachers’ union criticizes premier’s recruitment plans

Food arrives in Nunavut’s Clyde River 

Nunavut’s Kivalliq communities adopt more COVID-19 preventive measures 

Aurèle St-Amant, a pioneer of Nunavik’s co-op movement, dies at 83 from COVID-19

Temporary shelter offers homeless Inuit in Montreal protection from COVID-19

Increased Nutrition North subsidies take effect in Nunavut

Build an inuksuk, show your strength, TI urges urban Inuit youth

School’s out in Nunavut, and one mother says the kids are alright—most of the time 

Ottawa Inuit organization focuses on food security during pandemic

 Migratory geese and ducks are free of COVID-19: researcher 

In Cambridge Bay, schools reach out with activities and food

Nunavik health officials declare two more COVID-19 infections in Puvirnituq

Warrantless entries not justified to enforce Nunavut’s ban on gatherings, says official

When travelling by air, northern travellers now need masks

 Nunavut musician Becky Han steps onto Alianait’s virtual stage on Friday

 Subsidy keeps Agnico Eagle’s Nunavut mine workers on payroll

Nunavut’s ban on gatherings goes too far, says civil liberties watchdog

 Food for the hungry in Cambridge Bay

 COVID-19 restrictions move Inuit arts workshops online

 Canadian Rangers ready for patrol in Kuujjuaq

 Western Nunavut town moves to enforce COVID-19 bans

 Nunavik’s Raglan mine reopens despite outrage from Makivik Corp.

 In COVID-19 measure, Gjoa Haven bans sale of homemade baked goods

 Nunavut government worker’s creation lands on territory’s telephone book cover

 Coronavirus reaches Nunavik community of Inukjuak

Nunavik co-op workers gear up for COVID-19 prevention

After COVID-19 self-isolation, Nunavut student restarts his life

Nunavut canteen chef helps feed the hungry during COVID-19 hard times

 Inuk artist Asinnajaq wins a 2020 Sobey Art Award

 QIA commits $1.5M to aid small Inuit-owned businesses during pandemic

Keep schools closed, teachers home, says Nunavut Association of Municipalities 

Feds announce millions to help the North deal with COVID-19 

Nunavik declares tenth COVID-19 case in Puvirnituq

Nunavut mayors to discuss GN’s decision to recall teachers from outside territory

 After 11 COVID-19 infections, Greenland plans to slowly reopen Nuuk

Quebec may call back Nunavik school staff to help in health care 

Iqaluit man faces charges in connection with weekend firearms incident

Updated: Nunavik declares its 10th case of COVID-19

Under Nunavik’s COVID-19 lockdown, only charter flights travel to the region

If COVID-19 strikes, this Nunavut community is ready

Mining company helps fill hampers in Nunavut community

Nunavik’s COVID-19 alcohol restrictions lead to long lineups in Kuujjuaq


Creative SocialDistancing: many Nunavut residents have been getting outside and using snow to make great sculptures. This colourful drummer by Bernard Walsh of Cambridge Bay.

Nunavut asks out-of-territory teachers to return by April 21

Kivalliq Inuit Association directs COVID-19 money to elders, traditional activities

Canadian Rangers step up during COVID-19 crisis

To fight COVID-19 spread Greenland erects tent camp for homeless

COVID-19 could have big implications for Nunavut’s mining industry

Nunavik declares three more COVID-19 cases

Southern teachers in Nunavik remain on standby to leave region: union

Nunavut legal aid offices remain closed, but you can still call

Kitikmeot Inuit Association announces support for elders, on-the-land activities during pandemic

Studies underway to see if TB vaccine lessens COVID-19 symptoms


Remarkable #COVID19 generosity: Erik Hitkolok of Kugluktuk filled his sled with more than 200 frozen white fish and went on social media to offer them to people in his western Nunavut town.

COVID-19 leads to more Canadian North schedule changes

Northern airlines trim passenger service to the basics

Studies underway to see if TB vaccine lessens COVID-19 symptoms

Cambridge Bay bans alcohol imports for two weeks, citing COVID-19 concerns

Qikiqtani Inuit Association rolls out pandemic support plan

Western Nunavut gold producer TMAC reduces operations at Hope Bay


SocialDistancing during COVID-19 pandemic: Thomas Akilak won this weekend’s snow sculpture contest in Baker Lake, Nunavut: “It is important for us as a community to remain physically active and now that the weather is warming up we can enjoy time outdoors,” the hamlet said.

Greenland introduces temporary ban on alcohol sales in three communities

Snow sculptures keep Nunavut community creative during COVID-19 shutdown

Nunavut RCMP to don masks, gloves during COVID-19 pandemic

Nunavut mine goes into “lockdown” to reduce risk of COVID-19

Nunavik declares its first confirmed COVID-19 infection in Salluit


A terrific snow sculpture from Arviat, Nunavut where the hamlet organized a community-wide competition to get everyone out of their houses, respecting COVID-19 social distancing: here a large owl by Thomas Aniksak and a polar bear over a seal hole by Angie Curley.

Baffinland continues measures to keep COVID-19 out of Nunavut

Montreal day shelter offers lifeline to homeless Inuit women during COVID-19

Amid COVID-19 restrictions, TMAC keeps Nunavut gold mine going

Inuktut book titles available online for free during COVID-19 school closures

Quebec’s COVID-19 measures force Agnico Eagle to reduce operations in Nunavut

Nunavut artists will take a hit from this year’s Arctic cruise ban

Nunavik’s Raglan mine put into care and maintenance due to COVID-19

Canadian North changes schedule following new COVID-19 measures

Cambridge Bay pulls together to fight COVID-19

Passengers on Canadian North jets face new screening questions

Nunavik’s Raglan mine plans to send northern workers back home

Nunavut RCMP will ask callers about COVID-19 contact

Nunavut air travellers will face restrictions under N.W.T. travel ban

Nunavut mining company tries to quell concerns about potential for COVID-19


Love this bunny by the family of Jeannie Evalik in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut.

COVID-19 prompts Air Inuit to cut back flight schedule

Nunavut tells post-secondary students not to book travel home

To prevent COVID-19, Agnico Eagle will let Nunavut workers go home

COVID-19 closes Inuit organization offices in Nunavut

COVID-19 concerns prompt suspension of church services in Nunavut, Nunavik

Nunavut workers at TMAC gold mine will head home to avoid COVID-19

Quebec COVID-19 measures mean Nunavik man can’t visit his mother

Ottawa’s Inuit orgs batten down the hatches during COVID-19 emergency

Canadian North, Air Inuit reduce Arctic air services

Nunavut RCMP takes measures to reduce spread of COVID-19

Canadian High Arctic Research Station acts to reduce COVID-19 risk

Airlines serving Nunavut, Nunavik tighten COVID-19 prevention efforts

More Nunavut communities take measures to keep COVID-19 at bay

Nunavut’s Baffinland gears up its crisis management plan for COVID-19

Stay home and healthy, says Nunavut’s chief medical officer

To fight COVID-19, Nunavut mining company plans to screen workers

Three Nunavut communities ask visitors to stay away due to COVID-19 concerns

Nunavik’s regional airline steps up measures to prevent new coronavirus

Canadian North ramps up coronavirus plan

Nunavut Mining Symposium cancelled due to coronavirus

Nunavut mining company updates infectious disease plan for coronavirus

Greenland evades coronavirus for now


Like an iceberg, 1997 cont., “Qaggiq and hockey”

Like an iceberg, 1997 cont.: “Qaggiq and hockey”

An outside hockey game in Igloolik, (PHOTO/ PROJECT NORTH)

An outdoor hockey game in Igloolik. (PHOTO/ PROJECT NORTH)

It was a typical Saturday afternoon in Igloolik, January 1997: The temperature was minus 30 C with blowing snow, so more like minus 60 C. It was still pitch black outside, despite the increasing minutes of sunlight around noon every day. Inside the Kipsigak arena, a brisk game of hockey was underway.

There I found James Ungalaq and Celestino Uyarak discussing the weekend hockey tournament between the Igloolik Suns, the Assassins, Aqviqs and Eskimos. With no paid staff, their volunteer-run hockey association kept the arena open and found coaches and referees for the many players in the community.

It was taking volunteers an hour and a half to sweep the arena, then another hour to flood the ice. On weekends, there was more even work and 14-hour-long days at the arena. If the rink had been able to have a zamboni to groom the ice, the ice might have been ready much earlier for the kids, who looked forward to skating every day after school.

That’s why Ungalaq and Uyarak set their sights on a zamboni — the hamlet was willing to give them $50,000 if, by March 31, they could fundraise the additional $20,000 needed to buy the ice-grooming machine. In January, they were still $9,000 away from meeting that goal.

Maple Leafs fan Uyarak, who was unemployed in 1997, spent nearly all his time at the rink.

“I’m not a hunter, either. This is one thing I was never good at. If I have a choice to go hunting or play hockey, I’d play hockey,” he said.

Hockey had helped him over the previous two years, he said.

Igloolik as the sun returns. (PHOTO/ WIKIPEDIA)

Igloolik as the sun returns in mid-winter. (PHOTO/ WIKIPEDIA)

“When I’m at home, I’m a little upset, or a little confused, it helps relax [me]. It probably helped others too… you can’t go up to punch and whack someone. You can’t do that. You just play, and the best you can do it. Then the game’s over. That anger is gone. It helped me. Something else to think about. Something positive.”

Ungalaq, then a student at Nunavut Arctic College, said he didn’t think there was a problem with Inuit turning from traditional activities to hockey.

“It’s always been a matter of survival for us. If it makes them happier… they should be hockey players,” he said.

“I wish kids could turn more to sports rather than go and do something bad. Igloolik has a sniffing problem and we have a drug problem… If we can take these children into places like this, it doesn’t hurt.”

Ungalaq said he couldn’t wait until there would be an Inuk player in the National Hockey League — which didn’t happen until  2003, when Jordin Tootoo of Rankin Inlet joined the Nashville Predators.

NHL player Jordin Tootoo stands in front of an iceberg in Qikiqtarjuaq in 2013 (PHOTO BY DAVID MURPHY/NUNATSIAQ NEWS)

NHL player Jordin Tootoo stands in front of an iceberg in Qikiqtarjuaq in 2013 (PHOTO BY DAVID MURPHY/NUNATSIAQ NEWS)

“There’s about 24,000 Inuit up North and if the NHL gets one Inuk player, all those 24,000 Inuit will root for the team, that’s for sure,” Ungalaq said.

But I learned that the game of hockey, as it was played in Igloolik, wasn’t quite the same as in the South.

“The first night I played in the arena, there was a stick duel going on. It was a pick-up game before the teams were formed for the season,” said the high school principal, Doug MacLean, when we crossed paths in the arena.

“I was a little bit shocked, mentioned my discomfort to a fellow player. He turned to me and said ‘it’s ok, they’re brothers.'”

Still MacLean said he saw respect for age played out at the rink, with younger kids obeying the older ones.

“It’s not a traditional kind of respect because it’s in a non-traditional setting, but it does underscore a traditional set of values which does exist in the communities, and a place where you’ll see it” — unlike at school, he added.

When I left Igloolik after more than two weeks in the community, on a flight scheduled between two storms, I arrived back in Iqaluit where it feels light and balmy, although it was still way below zero.

Iqaluit's Kamotiq Inn (PHOTO/NUNATSIAQ NEWS)

Iqaluit’s Kamotiq Inn (PHOTO/NUNATSIAQ NEWS)

I meet a journalist at the Nunatsiaq News (where I would start to work full-time only later in 1997) for pizza and beer at the Kamotiq Inn, an igloo-shaped landmark at Iqaluit’s main intersection, the Four Corners — which was torn down in 2008.

The Kamotiq Inn at Iqaluit's Four Corners intersection is torn down in 2008. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)

The Kamotiq Inn at Iqaluit’s Four Corners intersection is torn down in 2008. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)

Afterwards, I went to a friend’s apartment where I cuddled up under a warm quilt. The stomach pains which plagued me in Igloolik were gone and I felt sunny again.

Not long after my visit to Igloolik, I learned that a zamboni was on order for the Kipsigak rink.

The next instalment of Like an iceberg goes live May 9.

You can read earlier instalments here:

Like an iceberg: on being a journalist in the Arctic

Like an iceberg, 1991…cont.

Like an iceberg, 1991…more

Like an iceberg, 1992, “Shots in the dark” 

Like an iceberg, 1992, “Sad stories”

Like an iceberg, 1993, “Learning the language of the snows”

Like an iceberg, 1993 cont., “Spring”

Like an iceberg, 1993 cont., “Chesterfield Inlet”

Like an iceberg, 1993 cont., more “Chesterfield Inlet”

Like an iceberg, 1994: “Seals and more”

Like an iceberg, 1994, cont., “No news is good news”

Like an iceberg, 1994 cont., more “No news is good news”

Like an iceberg, 1994 cont., “A place with four names”

Like an iceberg, 1995, “More sad stories”

Like an iceberg, 1995 cont., “No place like Nome”

Like an iceberg, 1995 cont., “Greenland”

Like an iceberg, 1995, cont. “Secrets”

Like an iceberg, 1996, “Hard Lessons”

Like an iceberg, 1996 cont., “Working together”

Like an iceberg, 1996 cont., “At the edge of the world”

Like an iceberg, 1996, more “At the edge of the world”

Like an iceberg, 1996, cont. “Choices” 

Like an iceberg, 1997, “Qaggiq”

Like an iceberg, 1997, more “Qaggiq”

Like an iceberg, 1997, “Qaggiq” cont.