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.

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