Wow, we made it for another lap around the sun. A journey of 4 million kilometres begins with a single moment, it seems.
I began 2019 some 3,177 km away in what increasingly feels like a different world. For me it was a life-changing year, starting out with promise but events left me without a newspaper to write for and my career in free-fall.
“If you’re falling off a cliff, you might as well try to fly. You have nothing to lose.” – John Sheridan.
Well, here I landed and I haven’t really looked back since.
Being the fourth editor of the Inuvik Drum this year, I don’t really have first-hand experience of how much of the year went, but from what I’ve read in our archives it was as transformative as my own.
Inuvik said goodbye to two much beloved institutions in 2019, first the Fruit Man, who brought fresh produce from the Vancouver coast, finally put his truck to rest after 33 years in the business. Then, a much loved coffee house, Bon Cafe, closed its doors on April 6 after the owners moved on to new opportunities elsewhere on the Earth.
2019 was a year of many firsts for the region — most mind blowing for me was the fellow who drove his electric car all the way from California to Tuktoyaktuk, which really proves the capabilities of the technology. But more holistically it was also the year Inuvik switched from hosting a ‘Petroleum summit’ to an ‘Arctic Development Expo’, which is far more significant than just the symbolism of the change. The Inuit Climate Change strategy was also unveiled this year at Ingamo Hall and the Porcupine Caribou User Agreement was finally inked after 34 years of consultations.
Inuvik also contributed two of the nine women elected to the legislature in a historical territorial election.
Looking forward, 2020 promises to be as rich with opportunities and challenges as any other year. Following the federal election, Ottawa is promising to put a new surge of energy and investment into the Arctic. Upgrades to the airport for the Canadian Forces are already in the budget and by sounds of things, more money for housing and infrastructure may be on the horizon.
It is up to northerners to decide the direction our world will travel. With less than 50,000 people between our borders, it should be a lot easier to have an informed, mature dialogue about what is at stake.
A warming Arctic is going to result in more population up here. This is a given, especially as new resources are exposed along the circumpolar north. We would be well advised to look at what has been done in terms of development in the past, since what works and what doesn’t is very well documented in history.
This was the year the north roared. From four brave Tuktoyaktuk youth producing a documentary about the eroding coastline in their home — and then showing it to the world at the United Nations COP25 conference in Madrid seven times — to the launch of Totally Arctic Wrestling, the Beaufort Delta has made its presence known on the global stage.
Let’s keep that momentum going for our next lap around the sun.