Saturday, February 26, 2011

Whiz Kid: Brian Bell Climbs Mt. Kilamanjaro

A Hilltopper Indeed
Summit High grad shows his Hilltopper spirit atop one of the world's largest mountains.

Patch Whiz Kid of the Week 
•  Whiz Kid's Name(s), Age(s): Brian Bell
• Whiz Kid's School/Church/Community Center: 2009 graduate of Summit High School
• Whiz Kid's Accomplishment: Brian Bell recently climbed Mt. Kilamanjaro in Tanzania Africa with a group from Chapman University to create a 3D Expedition documentary. The 8 day expedition took the spectacular and not-as well-traveled “Lemosho Route" to the summit of 19, 334 feet high. The expedition documentary was partially funded by the Ryan McGeough Memorial Scholarship.  The documentary will be entered in several film festivals.  

• Whiz Kid's Key to Awesomeness: Brian is a sophomore in the Dodge School of Media and Television of Chapman University in Orange, California. 
Have a Whiz kid you want to nominate? E-mail us at with the above information. Make sure to include a photo!

CLIMATE CHANGE - Terra Antarctica - Rediscovering the Seventh Continent

Notes From Sea Level | |

Our big, brand new, high def film about our expedition along the Antarctic Peninsula premieres spring of 2009.

Friday, February 25, 2011

IHOP March 1st 7-10am - National Pancake Day - free short-stack - generous donation to Childrens Hospital

IHOP National Pancake Day, March 1, 2011

Flip for Free Pancakes!

MARCH 1, 2011

Join IHOP on Tuesday, March 1, 2011, 7 a.m. - 10 p.m., for National Pancake Day and receive one complimentary short stack!* In return for the free flapjacks, we ask you to consider leaving a little something behind for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals and other designated local charities. Thanks to our guests' generosity, IHOP raised more than $2.1 million last year. IHOP began its National Pancake Day in 2006, and since then, has raised $5.35 million for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals and other local charities and given away more than 10.1 million buttermilk pancakes.

Antarctica: Empty raft found, still no yacht BERSERK

20110303 - UPDATE

WELLINGTON, March 3, 2011 (AFP) - - Norwegian adventurer Jarle Andhoy rejected criticism Thursday of his ill-fated mission to Antarctica and said he clung to hope the three crewmen missing from his yacht will be found.
"There is still a little hope as no evidence of (a) sunken ship is found," he said in a statement, adding he strongly rejected "all criticism which is not based on facts" about the expedition.
Andhoy and Samuel Massie were travelling across Antarctic by quad bike heading to the South Pole when their support vessel with three crew on board disappeared in a fierce storm.
Sea and air searches have only found the boat's damaged and ice-encrusted liferaft.
New Zealand rescue officials, responsible for searches in the area, have said there is no hope of finding survivors.
Antarctica New Zealand chief executive Lou Sanson said the 48-foot (14-metre) sailboat The Berserk was in Antarctic waters at one of the coldest times of the year and when the area was prone to fierce storms.
"At this time of year we close the (Antarctic) bases for a very good reason," he said.
But Andhoy said in a statement the disappearance of the vessel was a mystery as shortly before its emergency beacon was activated the captain had "reported of a happy ship".
He said they were equipped to be self-sufficient in all climates and conditions with security and safety a priority.

20110301 - UPDATE

Norwegian sailors defend Antarctic expedition as hopes fade for three crew mates feared dead following ferocious storm

The two survivors of a controversial Norwegian sailing expedition to the South Pole, in which three crew are missing, presumed dead, have defended their journey.
Jarle Andhoy, 34, and his 18-year-old companion Samuel Massie spoke of their ordeal after being airlifted from Antarctica to Christchurch by a United States Operation Deep Freeze flight.
They had trekked for a week to a U.S. base at McMurdo Sound, but three other members of the Wild Viking expedition are believed to have perished in the Southern Ocean after their 14-metre vessel, named Berserk, disappeared.
Survivors: Jarle Andhoy (left) and Samuel Massie spoke of their ordeal after they were airlifted to Christchurch when their quad bike expedition to the South Pole was hit by disaster
Survivors: Jarle Andhoy (left) and Samuel Massie spoke of their ordeal after they were airlifted to Christchurch when their quad bike expedition to the South Pole was hit by disaster
Among the missing is Leonard J. Banks, 32, who holds dual British and South African citizenship, alongside Norwegians Tom Gisle Bellika, 36, and Robert Skaanes, 34.
The five members of crew had embarked on their journey to follow in the footsteps of legendary Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen earlier this month

Read more:

(By Jon Amtrup) Berserk’s life raft has been found, but still no sign of the three people aboard the Norwegian sailing yacht. The raft was pretty beat up. Sea Shepherd searched the whole area and are convinced that there are no survivors. The skipper and one of the crew are racing towards the coast in two ATV's. 

The life raft was discovered 45 miles north of the position where the distress signal was issued and is consistent with the drift and wind. 

- The life raft was unoccupied, half filled with water, encrusted with ice and the canopy had been clearly torn half off by strong winds. Sea conditions at the time of the recovery were ideal – glassy waters, no swell, clear skies, and excellent visibility, writes Sea Shepherd in a press release. The Steve Irwin has searched the area for 24 hours with dinghy's, helicopter and the ship. Captain Paul Watson is convinced that the three people on board the Berserk are ”lost at sea sea and the recovery of their bodies is very unlikely.” 

- All indications are that Berserk has sunk and that it sank very quickly. The conditions at the time were extremely high winds, extremely low temperatures, very heavy seas, and numerous and very dangerous growlers, says Watson on their homepage. 

No other debris from the missing yacht has been found which could be a good sign for the crew. The raft could have been ripped off the boat during the bad weather and deployed in the water. 

The three missing are two Norwegians Robert Skaanes (34), and Tom Gisle Bellika (36), and South-African Leonard J. Banks (32). 

The Steve Irwin will continue the search Friday but that’s it. They are the only ship searching the area. 
Meanwhile Berserk skipper Jarle Andhøy (33) and his crew Samuel Massie (18) are racing towards the McMurdo base on two belt driven ATV’s (All Terrain Vehicle). 

The purpose of the expedition was according to Andhøy: "Berserk is under sail towards the South Pole to reconquer the pole 100 years after Roald Amundsen. The expedition started in fall 2009 from the top of the world (Northwest Passage ed.) and will be completed at the bottom by the “Pizzageneration” that are crewing the Berserk. The Berserk crew will try to follow in the footsteps of those who built Norway; war sailors, whale hunters and polar explorers. They all grew up in a much harder reality than our generation is living in today." 

Jarle Andhøy and crew sailed down the west coast of America and over to New Zealand before setting off to the Ross Sea in Antarctica. Once there they reassembled the two belt driven ATV’s they had stored on board during the crossing. The plan was that Andhøy and Massie should drive to the South Pole, but they didn’t get far before the news about the missing Berserk reached them. 

About charter yacht Berserk
Skipper Jarle Andhøy has been to Antarctica before, then in a 27-foot sailing boat. A high profile sailor in Norway, Andhøy has appeared on several TV shows and in the news. He was fined and sentenced in Norway for trying to ”talk to the Polar Bears” on Svalbard.

Accused of smuggling a crew member who had been sent out of the country on charges of being a Hells Angel, on his last trip through the Northwest Passage Canadian authorities cuffed Jarle Andhøy and flew him back home to Norway. 

BERSERK web home page: AND

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Why didn't the navy save us? The Chandlers reveal how they were captured by pirates under the gaze of British patrol


Last updated at 8:39 AM on 29th November 2010
Moments after storming aboard Paul and Rachel Chandler’s yacht, the pirates’ leader began haranguing them with one question that was clearly of vital importance to him. 
‘Nationality? Nationality?’ he shouted repeatedly in thickly-accented English, as the couple were taken below decks at gunpoint.
Amid the chaos of the assault, the British red ensign that had ­fluttered proudly from the Lynn Rival’s stern had been torn down, and they quickly realised that the gang chief, Bugas, was terrified that they might be French.
The Somali kidnappers of Paul and Rachel Chandler were initially desperate to confirm the couple were not French as the country takes a notoriously intolerant of pirates
The Somali kidnappers of Paul and Rachel Chandler were initially desperate to confirm the couple were not French as the country takes a notoriously intolerant of pirates
They had no idea why he was so anxious about this; it only became clear to them much later.
Six months before their kidnap, when another band of Somali pirates hijacked a yacht from Brittany cruising in the same stretch of ocean, French commandos had staged a ruthless rescue operation. 
In a ferocious gun battle, the ­captured skipper was tragically killed, but as the boat was retaken, two of the pirates were also shot dead and the rest were captured.
Sanctioned by the French Defence Minister, Herve Morin, it was a show of force designed to send out a message to the pirates — that one nation, at least, was no longer prepared to stand by and let them plunder the seas with impunity.
So when the Chandlers assured Bugas they were British, his relief was immediately obvious. 
‘The pirates don’t mess with the French any more,’ says 60-year-old Paul. ‘Their forces are too gung-ho.
‘But I think they see the other ­Western navies who patrol the area as a bit of laughing stock.
‘They know that if they have just one hostage at gunpoint, then these navies — with all their might — are impotent.’
'Little more than an irritant spoiling their fun': The Chandlers revealed their Somali pirate kidnappers did not take the Wave Knight (above) seriously
'Little more than an irritant spoiling their fun': The Chandlers revealed their Somali pirate kidnappers did not take the Wave Knight (above) seriously
Since we now know that the ­Chandlers were kidnapped under the compliant gaze of the Wave Knight, a Royal Navy supply ship armed with cannon and machine guns and ­carrying 25 Royal Marines, the pirates’ ­contempt is all too understandable.
But two crucial questions have ­lingered since the supply ship’s ­inglorious role in this nightmarish saga was first revealed.
Should the Admiralty have adopted the same tough stance as the French and ordered the Wave Knight to attack? 
And if they had, would the Chandlers have been spared a 13-month ordeal which saw them flogged, mentally ­tortured and threatened with death?
Told today for the first time, the Kent couple’s gripping, first-hand account of their capture on October 23 last year finally provides the answers to these questions — questions which have cast a long shadow over the Royal Navy’s proud reputation. 
In helping the Daily Mail piece together the minute-by-minute sequence of events that evening, Paul Chandler has also supplied us with his log and a diary containing transcripts of two tense conversations with the Wave Knight’s skipper.
As he thumbed through the ­documents — compiled with the meticulous precision one would expect from a Cambridge-educated civil ­engineer — all the drama of that night comes vividly into focus.
They record the Chandlers’ last ­contact with the outside world before being spirited away to the pirates’ lair and reveal how Paul was forced to beg the nearby British vessel to turn away.
Hostages: In November 2009 the Chandlers were made to talk on a video while being held at gunpoint
Hostages: In November 2009 the Chandlers were made to talk on a video while being held at gunpoint
‘Our captors will kill us if you don’t stand off. We are terrified,’ he told the Wave Knight over the yacht’s radio as he struggled to maintain his composure.
Of course, as he was speaking AK-47s were being pointed at him and Rachel.
Today, after replaying those fraught final moments of freedom in his mind for 13 long months, he sees things very differently.
‘Our reasoning is: “We’d had a good life. We have enjoyed it. It’s no great loss to the world if we don’t survive any longer,”’ he says in measured tones as his wife nods sagely.
‘I thought, someone has got to deal with these bastards and not take it lying down.
‘If you kill ten baddies that’s fantastic — it’s ten less evil guys in the world. 
‘It always worried me that people were too conservative and too safety conscious. I really think you have to try. 
'I think it’s quite right to have a go if there’s a reasonable chance and I don’t think anybody should be criticised if a rescue attempt goes wrong.
‘Somebody has to face up to these gangsters. The more rescue attempts there are, the more they get nervous. They see it as “They’re standing up to us — they’re not just sitting there watching.”’
‘If they were under attack from the Navy, their response would have been to save their own lives.
‘Bugas was a bully but deep down he was also a coward and he would have dropped his gun and run away.’ 
Though they are soul-mates, the Chandlers are two fiercely ­independent thinkers, and Rachel’s views are not quite so clear-cut as her husband’s. 
She says: ‘I think there would have been bloodbath. There’s very little you can do without facing the risk of loss of life — not just of hostages but the troops who go in, so you have to think very carefully before you do that.’
In one noble respect, however, the Chandlers are united. 
Soul mates: The Chandlers following their 13-month ordeal being held captive by the Somali gang of pirates
Soul mates: The Chandlers following their 13-month ordeal being held captive by the Somali gang of pirates
Recalling how Scottish aid worker Linda Norgrove was killed when U.S. troops tried to free her from a Taliban hideout in Afghanistan, they believe strongly that there are circumstances when the sacrifice may be worthwhile. 
And, looking you squarely in the eye, they say they were quite prepared to die to make the seas safer for others.
No one could be in a better position to make such a judgment than this devoted couple from Tunbridge Wells, Kent. 
Their dream of an adventurous ­retirement, meandering from ­continent to continent in their lovingly restored 38ft yacht, bought from a friend for £30,000 in 1995, was shattered just hours after they left the Seychelles bound for Tanzania.
On the day they set sail, Wednesday, October 22, 2009 a taxi driver had told them grimly: ‘I will pray for you if you are going that way.’
Yet the Chandlers were undeterred. They had, they thought, taken every possible precaution and their intended route would take them no closer than 770 miles from the nearest point on the Somali coast. 
At 2.30am on October 23, as Paul dozed in his quarters and his wife was on her four-hour watch duty, they got their answer.
Speeding across the waves in two flat-bottomed skiffs, seven armed pirates were upon them almost before they had time to think, followed by their fearsome leader Bugas and two more gang members.
baddies on deck, we're terrified
Woken by gunfire, the usually ­unflappable Paul experienced a rare and brief moment of panic. 
Then, drawing on his lifelong experience of sailing, he switched on the yacht’s distress beacon, knowing this was his one hope of getting help.
The device was programmed to send an SOS to Falmouth, 5,200 miles away, and this was ultimately relayed to the EU NAVFOR, the anti-piracy task-force given the thankless job of ­patrolling the vast equatorial waters around the Horn of Africa.
Now the search for the little British sailing yacht should have begun — and it should have been easy. The ­Chandlers had logged their course with the authorities before leaving and were still only 60 miles from the Seychelles. 
And the Lynn Rival was limping along at barely two knots per hour, her engine labouring as she towed the pirates’ skiffs.
For some reason, however, it took four days before one of the EU force’s helicopters finally spotted the hijacked yacht and a rescue plan — of sorts — was activated.
Cruising in the vicinity to supply the patrol fleet, the 36,000-ton Wave Knight set a course to try to intercept Lynn Rival.
Meanwhile, rattled by the sight of the military helicopter hovering overhead and realising a warship would soon be on its way, Bugas had used the ­Chandlers’ satellite phone to call his accomplices.
These fellow pirates had taken over another boat, 14 days before the Chandlers were kidnapped — a Singapore-flagged container vessel, Kota Wajar.
Frustrated by the yacht’s painfully slow pace and knowing it could not outrun a patrol ship, Bugas planned to use the far more powerful cargo ship to transfer his hostages to the Somali coast.
So now, all three ships in this fast-unfolding episode were about to converge. 
Paul’s meticulous diary records that they came together on the waves as dusk was falling on October 28. 
On paper, at least, the slate-grey Wave Knight was a well-armed Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship which could ­easily outgun the two vessels under the pirates’ control from her final ­position, only 200 yards away from the Lynn Rival.
From experience, though, the gang seemed cock-sure that the British would not attack them, and Rachel says they regarded the Wave Knight as little more than an irritant ‘spoiling their fun’. 
Determined to ensure the transfer went smoothly, however, Bugas ­levelled his semi-automatic weapon at Paul and ordered him to contact the British ship on the VHF radio. 
He did so and seconds later he was conversing with an archetypal British naval officer, who ‘spoke like an air ­traffic controller talking to planes in the movies — totally calm and matter-of-fact.’ 
According to Paul’s records, the conversation which would seal the Chandlers’ fate ran as follows:
Lynn Rival: EU warship — this is sailing yacht Lynn Rival. We are two British, one male, one female. We have been kidnapped. We are both well and unharmed. Please turn away or we will be killed. 
Wave Knight: Lynn Rival — understood. We are turning away now. We confirm one male, one female unharmed. Are you directly threatened?
LR: Correct. Not threatened at present.
At this point, Bugas seized the radio and ordered the couple to pack their bags ready to decamp to the Kota Wajar. 
As they did so, the radio crackled to life again and they heard the British ship threaten the pirates aboard the ­captured cargo vessel.
WK: Kota Wajar. You are in my security area. Alter course to the north please. 
[There was no reply to this warning, and indeed the Kota Wajar failed to respond to any of Wave Knight’s entreaties. This was because, the Chandlers later learned, the pirates on board were beating the container ship’s skipper — one of 21 crew members being held hostage — over the head with a water bottle]. 
WK: Kota Wajar, you are threatening my security. Alter course to the north. Please acknowledge.
Once again, Bugas forced Paul back on to the radio to tell the British ship to stop its threats.
LR: EU warship, this is sailing yacht Lynn Rival.
WK: Lynn Rival, I am under attack from a previously pirated ship. I will come back to you.
[From his position below deck, Paul could not see or hear gunfire, but the Ministry of Defence told the Daily Mail the pirates onboard the Kota Wajar opened fire on the Wave Knight with their machine guns. 
Under the military Rules of Engagement, the British vessel could now have launched a deadly assault against them, but did not do so because of the 21 crew held hostage on the cargo ship.]
WK: Kota Wajar, you are threatening my security. Alter course towards north ­immediately or I may take action.
LR: We are very frightened. We have been told we will be killed if you do not stand off.
WK: Kota Wajar, you are threatening my security. Alter course towards north ­immediately or I may take action which may include the use of lethal force.
LR: Our captors say they will kill us if you don’t stand off. We are terrified!
At this point, apparently satisfied he had bought them enough time to evacuate, Bugas ordered Paul to turn off the radio and ram his beloved yacht into the stern of the Kota Wajar.
This was to get them close enough to climb the rope ladder that had been lowered by pirates on the high-sided container ship.
His ploy worked, and the Chandlers were transferred to Kota Wajar while the crew of the Wave Knight looked on.
It was, indeed, a fiasco. As a patriot and a seafarer, Paul is reluctant to criticise our Navy, but as he remarks — what was the point of the ship being there if it couldn’t help them?
As he was on deck, Paul was forced up the rope ladder first. His wife, who had been kept below in the cabin, was allowed out only once he was aboard the Kota Wajar.
Rachel fights back tears as she recalls how she left the yacht which had become their home, and embodied all their dreams, ­convinced she would never see the Lynn Rival again. 
The Wave Knight did train its searchlight on the Lynn Rival, but took no action as the hostages were forced up the ladder and onto the cargo ship, where they disappeared into the ship’s hull.
The team of elite Marines — armed to the teeth and in full combat gear of black fatigues, balaclavas and nightvision goggles — could only watch, frustrated and incredulous, as the Kota Wajar slowly turned and steamed away towards Somalia.
A source would later say: ‘The mood among the Marines was one of intense anger and frustration. These guys were right up for it — absolutely champing at the bit. It was ­precisely the situation they had trained for.
‘We had all watched them practising rapid-roping [descending at speed on ropes from a helicopter] and sea-borne assaults. They knew exactly what to do. They were poised there like a bunch of Ninjas and the adrenaline was pumping.
‘They couldn’t believe the orders to stand down . . . We had a chance to strike a real blow at the pirates and send a message that you don’t mess with the British.’
That chance had evaporated and the next day, as they headed towards an uncertain future in Somalia, Paul reluctantly unpacked the log book he had smuggled off his yacht and wrote a final, sad entry.
‘October 29th, 0200 (Approx): Removed from Lynn Rival by kidnappers, transferred to MV Kota Wajar. Lynn Rival abandoned!’
Additional reporting: Vanessa Allen

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

SOLE Club gears up for new year

The University's outdoor program, Student Outdoor Leadership Expeditions (S.O.L.E.), was created by Daniel Bowan, a person wanting nothing more than to share the outdoors with local college students. As their mission statement reads, "Programs will emphasize skill acquisition, leadership development, team building, environmental awareness, safety and fun."
With activities such as skiing, snowshoeing, whitewater rafting, ice climbing, fly fishing, rock climbing and their annual hut trip, students will always be satisfied. These trips are also very affordable – even for the poor unfortunate college students – and the prices are all below $100.
Not only do they plan trekking excursions, but they also have free tuning workshops. Rather than make an appointment at an expensive bike shop, SOLE provides students with basic knowledge and maintenance assistance. Equipped with professionals, students can expect reliability and effective help when needed.
Although, for activities such as kayaking and rock climbing, you may have to visit the Recreation Center for information about required preps before your trip, but they require nothing too strenuous.
If you're worried these trips are too intense for your beginner level, never fear, because they accommodate all levels of experience to ensure everyone is enjoying themselves. For those without proper gear, these items can be rented at day, weekend or weekly rates.
According to the website, the Outdoor Center is open from 2 to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. Students can rent essentials from backpacks, sleeping bags and tents (2- and 4-person), to things such as stoves and backcountry packages.
Depending on available space, students can usually invite a guest.
This group offers students an opportunity to not just go to school in Colorado, but to experience the elements of Colorado that make living here so desirable.
So go snowshoeing sober, have a Carpe Diem moment in the thick brush of a national forest and scream yourself silly white water rafting.

Arctic Explorer Wants to Save The Poles

Just Chillin'
His hair long and shaggy, his face sunburned and wind-chapped, Eric Larsen looked like the last person who would be speaking to students in the University’s Business Opportunities in Leadership and Diversity program. Larsen had gone without showering for up to six weeks at a time on his Save the Poles expedition to reach the South Pole, the North Pole and the summit of Mount Everest within a continuous 365 days. Now clean-shave, he braved the Ithaca cold on Feb. 15 to speak about extreme leadership and his efforts to raise awareness on climate change.
Larsen is the first American to reach all three “poles” and the first person ever to accomplish this feat within one year. He grew up in Minnesota and joked that his most unusual characteristics are his love of winter and love of camping.
“[I] judge quality of life by how many nights I can spend in a tent,” Larsen said.
After graduating from college, he joined the Student Conservation Association and worked as a backcountry ranger in Alaska, where he explored the Canadian Arctic.
When his interests shifted from recreation to education, he went back to school for a master’s degree in environmental education. After working at an environmental center for four years though, he delved back into expeditions, convinced that kids need outdoor experiences to fully engage in environmental learning.  
In 2006, Larsen made the first ever summer expedition to the North Pole with the goal of getting polar bears listed as an endangered species. The fracturing of Arctic ice, which threatens the livelihood of the bears, also threatened the expedition, which many thought to be impossible.  
For Save the Poles, Larsen set his sights even higher, intending for the three-part expedition to serve as a “springboard for telling story of global climate change,” Larsen said.
Since the world has long since been charted and mapped, Larsen considers the word explorer to be an artificial term and instead views himself as a storyteller of “how unique, beautiful, seemingly pristine these places are, [yet] how fragile and changing,” he said.
Moreover, Larsen added that there is a “powerful, automatically interesting aspect” to the environment, and it need not be value-laden with a political agenda.  
Throughout the presentation, Larsen conveyed an easy-going and self-deprecating attitude. He professed to not being the strongest, smartest, or fastest person but believing that we all have an “innate ability to excel and survive”  
Larsen and his team encountered “a lot of situations where you’re really pushing the envelope of safety,” he said.  
In Antarctica, there are “so many ways to fail,” Larsen said, from falling into a crevasse to hypothermia, to broken equipment, to getting lost or disoriented, especially in white-outs. “Put blank sheet of paper in front of your face, and that’s like skiing in Antarctica,” Larsen said.
One of Larsen’s many mantras is “No one of us is as strong as all of us.” He had to operate within three different teams, in three different places, under three different situations, yet he equated the expedition with baking cookies, and each day as “stamping out one cookie. Hopefully we can do that enough time to be successful and reach our goal.”
On Save the Poles, Larsen simultaneously played a leader and a team member – both unconventionally defined. As a leader, he always volunteered first for the worst jobs, such as physically breaking ice sheets with his body, choosing to lead by example. As a team player, he was selfish about conserving his energy because every ounce of energy saved contributes to the team’s overall success.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Arctic Bay food price pics spark quarrel over Nutrition North
Retail prices for grocery items deemed to be of poor nutritional value have risen across the eastern Arctic in recent weeks, sparking fears about the potential impact of the Nutrition North Canada program, which starts April 1. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

Retail prices for grocery items deemed to be of poor nutritional value have risen across the eastern Arctic in recent weeks, sparking fears about the potential impact of the Nutrition North Canada program, which starts April 1. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

Residents question new subsidy scheme’s eligibility list


Blaming the federal government’s Nutrition North Canada program, Arctic Bay residents complained loudly this past week about skyrocketing food prices in their community.
To press their case, some residents used the internet to distribute digital pictures of food items that, in a transitional measure, became ineligible this past Oct. 3 for the outgoing food mail freight subsidy.
“Many items, such as cream for baking and cooking, bacon, are now shipping at $13.23 a kilogram. Have you ever paid $15 for a pound of bacon? How about $8.00 for a pint of cream,” Arctic Bay resident Clare Kine wrote in a letter to Nunatsiaq News.
Side bacon, along with many other food products containing high levels of sodium and sugar, became ineligible for air transportation subsidies as of last October.
Other items, many of them non-perishables, were also dropped, on the grounds that such goods should be shipped via sealift.
The Nutrition North program, which doesn’t start up until April 1 this year,  is intended to force airlines to compete with each other for retailer freight business.
It also eliminates the use of awkward mandatory entrance points like Val d’Or, Quebec, from which most eastern Arctic food mail has been shipped.
After April 1, retailers may hire airlines to ship eligible food items directly from wholesalers based in areas like southern Ontario, where wholesale goods are likely cheaper.
But many Nunavut residents aren’t convinced that the program will reduce food prices and they don’t like the elimination of transport subsidies for items like Cheez Whiz and Ocean Spray cranberry-flavoured drinks.
Ron Elliot an Arctic Bay resident who represents the Quttiktuq constituency in the Nunavut legislature, said last week that his constituents fear what the new program will bring.
“Although there are high expectations that this program will serve to improve access to, and lower the cost of, nutritious food for tens of thousands of Northerners, many of my constituents are understandably concerned about the new model of program delivery,” Elliot said in a letter to Elizabeth Copeland, the chair of an advisory council set up to monitor the new program.
And Yukon MP Larry Bagnell blasted the federal government over Nutrition North in the House of Commons this past week.
“Low-income northerners were shocked at massive price increases in food prices caused by the government’s removal of subsidies,” Bagnell said Feb. 14.
John Duncan, the minister of northern affairs, responded by saying the Nutrition North program doesn’t start until April 1, and can’t be blamed for the price increases that Bagnell complained about.
“Mr. Speaker, the food mail program was in effect since the 1960s. The Liberal government never made any changes. It became very inefficient. This is not a cost-cutting exercise. We are spending more than was ever spent under the Liberals,” Duncan said.
Posted by nunavut is gone! on February 15, 2011
hey Eva, (premier)
i will never forget what you said before “by 2030 no child or family will go hungry” is that even true? with these prices, everyone will go hungry by 2030. Or should i come to your house when ever i get hungry? i guess thats only way child or family will not go hungry! come on people, lets protest for the high prices we pay up here! let us speak and let our voices be heard!

Posted by Daniel on February 15, 2011
I dear John Duncan, the minister of northern affairs to live in the north for a year.  Or wait, he won’t !!

Posted by Saxifrage on February 15, 2011
Inuit need TO BE GIVEN A CHOICE not Inuit need to be making better choices… There are a lot of unemployed people, not by choice who are on social assistance and they have no choice but to buy less expensive options and less nutritional because they can only spend so much… sure it would be nice to be able to make better choices or rather have a variety of options but then life intervenes, power bills come, rent is due, food prices go up… on and on!

Posted by claude gadbois on February 15, 2011
i myself have for some years made a sealift of all non perishable everyday food needed and i do save alot of money i am lucky that i can afford this and have room in my house to store these items there are alot of others who on fixed income have to purchase on a weekly basis what they security,unemployment incomes are not much different in the north than in the south but yet store items are 2 to 3 times higher our choice of buying nutritious foods depends on how deep our pockets are reading about arctic bay prices is mind bloging i find prices in kuujjuaq high at northen $1.45 for one apple $7.49 for a small pack of rasberries but we have no choice thank god our freezers are full of country food and that we still can afford to go hunting for now and also that we still traditionnaly share with others less fortunate our harvests otherwise there would be alot of hungry people out there if we only depended on stores to feed ourselves but i must say nutritious or not sometimes its nice to have a hot dog with cheese whiz