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[LINK] Joe O’Connor in the National Post on the Nunavut suicide epidemic

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Joe O’Connor’s heartbreaking National Post article looks at a terrible Canadian social ill.

Rex Uttak liked to laugh, especially when his aunt, Mary Ann Uttak, got him going, as she loved to do, because he could get her right back by cracking a joke or doing something silly. Then they would both start laughing until their eyes watered, and they would try to choke back their giggles until the next joke flew.

That was Rex, says his aunt, an 11-year-old boy full of laughter and light. Mary Ann remembers coming home on August 10, 2013 and seeing her nephew and one of his cousin’s asleep on a living room couch. She touched his cheek and whispered goodnight. By the next morning Rex was dead. The little boy who liked to laugh had hanged himself.

Rex Uttak was one of 45 Nunavut Inuit to take their own life in 2013, a cascade of tragedies that triggered a special coroner’s inquest into the high rate of suicide in the North that convened in Iqaluit on Sept. 14 and concludes Friday.

Since 1999, 479 Inuit have killed themselves in the territory — by hanging, gun, overdose and stabbing — out of a population of about 28,000. To put the numbers in perspective: an Inuit age 15 years and older is 9.8 times more likely to commit suicide than a Canadian living in the south, while the suicide rate among Inuit children, aged 11-14, is about 50 times the national average. Of the 45 suicides in 2013, 12 were women and 33 were men, mostly between the ages of 15-25.

Rex Uttak was the youngest. The oldest was 72.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 25, 2015 at 7:36 pm

[LINK] “Nunavut communities struggle with junked vehicles”

CBC News’ Kieran Oudshoom reports on a serious problem in Iqaluit, Nunavut’s capital.

It’s that time of year — back to school for students and back to work for adults returning from vacation — and the renewed “rush minute” means the streets in larger Northern communities are packed with vehicles during peak hours.

Making matters worse, hundreds of new cars and trucks arrive in Nunavut by sealift every year with no means of removing the derelict vehicles they’re replacing, and that’s a big problem for communities such as Iqaluit.

Iqaluit Coun. Terry Dobbin says there are nearly 6,000 vehicles in the territory’s capital, but only 30 kilometres of road. He says that’s a huge number given the city’s population, estimated at just above 8,000.

Dealing with old vehicles shouldn’t just be the responsibility of the city, Dobbin says.

“If there was a small import levy that you could place on those vehicles when they were brought into the city, that way a system would be in place — a fund would be in place and available — when it’s time to ship these vehicles back south.”

Written by Randy McDonald

September 1, 2015 at 1:25 am

[LINK] “Nunavut’s social housing faces billion-dollar shortfall”

CBC’s John Van Dusen reports on the appalling housing shortfalls in Nunavut.

More than 3,000 households in Nunavut are estimated to be homeless and waiting for g​overnment-assisted housing, according to the Nunavut Housing Corporation. Under the government agency’s definition, a household can mean parents with children, a single person, or some other family arrangement.

Getting through the backlog can take years.

[. . .]

Half of Nunavut lives in social housing, many of the units overcrowded.

“I’ve seen as high as 22 people staying in a three-bedroom unit that was 1,200 square feet,” said Lori Kimball, the president and CEO of the Nunavut Housing Corporation.

Right now, there are 2,313 households on the waiting list to get into social housing, though Kimball estimates the need is much higher. Many don’t bother applying, she says, because of the severe shortage.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 17, 2015 at 9:56 pm

[LINK] “A lake in the Northwest Territories is about to fall off a cliff”

The Globe and Mail shared Bob Weber’s Canadian Press article describing how global warming will lead to a lake in the Northwest Territories falling off a cliff.

Some time in the next few months, a small northern lake will burst through the shrinking earthen rampart holding it back and fall off a cliff.

“It’s got a ways to travel,” says Steve Kokelj of the Northwest Territories Geological Survey. “This lake happens to be perched about 600 feet above the Mackenzie Valley.”

[. . .]

The doomed lake, which has no name and sits in the northern corner of the territory near the community of Fort McPherson, is a victim of the region’s geology and changing climate.

Permafrost in this part of the N.W.T. contains a high percentage of ice in headwalls, which can be up to 30 metres thick. That ice has been there since the retreat of the Laurentide Ice Sheet 20,000 years ago.

Trouble starts when parts of the headwalls are exposed by erosion from wind or rain. The ice melts, which causes the soil and rock on top to collapse. That exposes more ice, which also melts and extends the collapse, and the cycle keeps repeating.

“It thaws in the summertime and will continue to work its way back upslope until you run out of ice or the headwall gets covered by sediment,” Kokelj says. “The slumps chew their way upslope.”

Written by Randy McDonald

July 22, 2015 at 10:30 pm

[LINK] “Nunavut announces funds for a feasibility study for Arctic university”

The Globe and Mail shared the Canadian Press’ report about Nunavut’s interest in establishing a local university, one based in the territory and reflecting Inuit values. Given the lack of opportunities locally for higher education, I think there’s a case for doing something.

The government of Nunavut has announced it will take the next step toward creating an Arctic university by funding a feasibility study.

“The purpose is to enable access to higher education at home that represents our diverse land,” Nunavut Commissioner Nellie Kusugak said Tuesday in a speech opening the new session of the territorial legislature.

[. . .]

The idea for a university in Canada’s Arctic has been around for years, but it has gained new energy after a recent high-level report written by northern educators, government and land-claim organizations.

That report recommended a university be located in Iqaluit and suggested the school would need to be independent of government and Inuit organizations. While it would be open to all, it would mostly serve Inuit students from across the North.

Classes in traditional Inuit knowledge and language would be mandatory. Elders could be given the same status — and salary —as full professors.

The report proposed an initial course list of Inuit studies, fine arts, linguistics, political science and indigenous governance, education, health, natural science and law.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 5, 2015 at 10:46 pm

[BLOG] Some politics and economic links

  • 3 Quarks Daily had a roundup of reactions to the PEN/Charlie Hebdo controversy.
  • City of Brass notes the role of the Nation of Islam in keeping the peace in Baltimore.
  • Crooked Timber considers if the British Labour Party might gain by creating a separate Scottish Party, and wonders what British Euroskepticism means for Ireland.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes the new importance of immigration from China and India for the United States, looks at China’s negotiating of a naval base with Djibouti, wonders if Russia while buy Chinese naval vessels, and notes the Ukrainian capture of two Russian soldiers.
  • A Fistful of Euros argues that Greece, for all of its faults, is facing doom in order to consolidate the Eurozone.
  • Geocurrents’ Martin Lewis examines the Latin American political spectrum.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money wonders what a Korean war might look like, examines the risks faced by Indonesian migrants, and looks at the India-Bangladesh border.
  • The Map Room’s Jonathan Crowe shares an unduly controversial map of shrinking sea ice in the Canadian Arctic.
  • Marginal Revolution notes that immigration does not undermine institutions, wonders about the need for Scottish separatism, examines the myth of abandoned British austerity, wonders how to fix Ukraine, and suggests urbanization can boost economic growth.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw reflected on the Indonesian executions.
  • Registan predicts political crisis in Kyrgyzstan.
  • Towleroad notes</a that a European court has ordered the compensation of LGBT activists attacked in Georgia in 2012.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy considers Iranian attacks on a ship registered to the American protectorate of the Marshall Islands and Libyan attacks on a ship registered to New Zealand’s Cook Islanders.
  • Window on Eurasia argues that the European Union’s Eastern Partnership has failed, looks at Ukrainian hostility to Russians fighting in the Donbas, argues Russian cannot hold the Baltic States, looks at Russian Muslim demographic boosterism, notes the decline of Russian in southern Kazakhstan, looks at Armenia’s alignment of its Muslim institutions with Iran, notes the plight of Ukrainian refugees and returning Donbas fighters in Russia, and notes Russia’s loss of influence in Ukraine.
  • The Financial Times‘ The World notes Polish concern over the Night Wolves, a Russian motorocycle gang.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell argues that British Labour should rebuild by opposing things and not working on the more difficult task of finding new policies.
  • </ul?

[LINK] “Go north, not west: Yukon lures businesses with new company rules”

CBC’s Paul Haavardsrud wrote at the beginning of the month how Canada’s northern Yukon Territory wants to make its autonomous government a potent selling factor for business, by making Yukon a preferred place to incorporate businessses. Leveraging its sovereign jurisdiction in this way could work: Look at Delaware.

What do a Chilean mining company, an Illinois-based pharmaceutical firm that just sold for $12.8 billion, and a gold producer from Colorado operating in Turkey have in common?

They’re all registered in Yukon.

That Alacer Gold, Catamaran, or Orosur Mining don’t do any work in the territory is a quirk of Canadian regulatory history that Yukon wants to make less of an oddity. So today, Yukon is changing its Business Corporations Act in a bid to convince even more far-flung companies that part of the answer to tapping Canada’s capital markets can be found north of 60.

“If you want to send a message to the business community that this is a good place to come, what better way to say it than you’ve got really good business legislation,” says Paul Lackowicz, a partner at Lackowicz & Hoffman, a Whitehorse law firm.

[. . .]

How much of a difference can some esoteric changes to business legislation really make? For a province like Ontario or Alberta, not much at all. But for a remote locale with a population of only 36,500, even a little economic activity can move the needle.

In that regard, Yukon is in the same boat as Delaware, a tiny state that’s so amenable to business that nearly half of the public companies in the United States are incorporated there. Yukon’s regulatory changes don’t include tax benefits, so no one should expect it to become Delaware North.

Registering for a business licence in a jurisdiction is also different than incorporating there as a legal entity. Still, in a sparsely populated territory that raised its employment rate 2.1 percentage points in 2013 by adding an extra 400 jobs, even changes at the margin can matter.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 13, 2015 at 2:04 am


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