Canada’s ice road to diamonds

A late March blizzard has finished blowing over much of Canada’s Northwest Territories and Ron Near’s job just got more interesting.

A retired Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer, Near is in charge of the world’s longest ice road that connects Yellowknife, the territorial capital, to three diamond mines: Ekati, Diavik and Snap Lake.

Dreams made of diamonds

Matevos Harutyunyan has to fly across Canada from Yellowknife, the capital of Northwest Territories, to Montreal to do what he loves the most.
Harutyunyan is an expert diamond cutter and polisher but ever since the Arslanian Cutting Works factory in Yellowknife shut its doors two years ago, the only chance he gets to practice his beloved craft is during short visits to Montreal.

Quebec Inuit brace for higher food prices

Montreal – Residents of Quebec’s northernmost communities are bracing for a steep increase in their grocery bill as a new federal food subsidy program kicks in on April 1. Gerard Duhaime, a sociologist and the head of Canada Research Chair on Comparative Aboriginal Condition at University of Laval in Quebec City, said the expected price increase in Nunavik and other Arctic regions of Canada is no April Fool’s joke. “We’re expecting about 60 per cent increase in consumer prices,” Duhaime said. “And this is considering…

Sealskins on ice

Joelie Sanguya raised his axe, paused for a moment, then with a swift blow swung it at the frozen seal carcass.

Behind him a chorus of hungry sled dogs filled the arctic air with a cacophony of excited howling and barking in anticipation of a well-deserved dinner.

Sealskins on ice: a by-product that was once a form of income for the Inuit now lies scattered as waste on the frozen tundra

CLYDE RIVER – Joelie Sanguya raised his axe, paused for a moment, then with a swift blow swung it at the frozen seal carcass.

Behind him a chorus of hungry sled dogs filled the arctic air with a cacophony of excited howling and barking in anticipation of a well-deserved dinner.

Sanguya, an Inuit hunter, artist, filmmaker and an expert musher, continued to work his axe on the frozen carcass, removing the head. Then, bracing the seal body with a hook, he used a butcher’s knife to cut through the skin and into the blubber. He was methodical, cutting chunks that looked like oversized cubes, and tossing them aside. “Don’t step in that. It’ll stick to your boots and stink up the tent when it warms up.

“I’ll leave the skin and the blubber for crows and Arctic foxes – dogs only eat the blubber when they’re really desperate,” he explained, returning to his axe to hack at the skinned animal. Dark maroon in colour, the frozen seal meat shattered like pieces of broken pottery with each blow.

Canadians return minority Conservative government to power

Montreal – Prime Minister Stephen Harper came within a stone’s throw of a majority government Tuesday as Canadians re-elected a minority Conservative government. Early returns showed Conservatives elected or leading in 143 ridings, which would be a gain of 16 seats. The opposition Liberals were elected or leading in 75 ridings. The separatist Bloc Quebecois, which runs candidates only in the French-speaking province of Quebec, was leading in 49 ridings, and the socialist New Democratic Party was leading in 38 ridings. The Green Party, which…

Haunting images of pain and loss; Canadian Reporter-Photographer Paul Watson has written a breathtakingly compelling and candid account of his experiences as a foreign correspondent

Montreal Gazette Saturday, August 18, 2007 LEVON SEVUNTS There are moments in every reporter’s life when a story brings you to a moral conundrum. It can be something as simple as making that dreaded call to a grieving mother to get a quote about her dead child, or shoving a microphone into the face of a man who has just lost everything in a house fire. But sometimes, the circumstances are so extreme, so outside the norm, that nothing in your previous life can prepare…

Two deaths, two very different cases

Two deaths, two very different cases; A Russian diary, by murdered journalist Anna Politkovskaya, is a ringing indictment of the course charted by president Vladimir Putin; death of a dissident, which reads like a spy thriller, looks at the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko Montreal Gazette Saturday, August 11, 2007 LEVON SEVUNTS A RUSSIAN DIARY By Anna Politkovskaya Harvill Secker, 323 pages, $45.95 DEATH OF A DISSIDENT: THE POISONING OF ALEXANDER LITVINENKO AND THE RETURN OF THE KGB By Alex Goldfarb with Marina Litvinenko Free Press,…

Drama and 'democracy'; Mark MacKinnon's incisive look at Post-soviet politics

Montreal Gazette Saturday, June 23, 2007 LEVON SEVUNTS The New Cold War: Revolutions, Rigged Elections and Pipeline Politics in the Former Soviet Union Mark MacKinnon Random House Canada, 313 pages, $34.95 If you’ve never read a book about the politics in the former Soviet Union, make an exception for this one. And if you’re interested in post-Soviet politics, then Mark MacKinnon’s The New Cold War is a must. It’s a real-life political drama, a non-fiction page-turner that will keep you up at night and provoke…

Witness to suffering; A foreign correspondent writes home

Montreal Gazette Saturday, May 19, 2007 LEVON SEVUNTS ECHOES OF VIOLENCE: LETTERS FROM A WAR REPORTER By Carolin Emcke Princeton University Press, 340 pages, $29.50 – – – What did you really see? What do you really think? Friends ask me these questions every time I come back from some faraway assignment. They want to know what I – the person they know, not the supposedly unbiased reporter I try to be in the field – have witnessed and felt. These questions seem straightforward enough,…

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