ONS: Excerpts (texts and documents)

August 2006: Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper gives speech in Iqaluit, Nunavut.

I am here today to make it absolutely clear there is no question about Canada’s Arctic border.

It extends from the northern tip of Labrador all the way up the East coast of Ellesmere Island to Alert. Then it traces the western perimeter of the Queen Elizabeth Islands down to the Beaufort Sea. From there it hugs the coasts of the Northwest Territories and Yukon to the Canada-U.S. border at Alaska.

All along the border, our jurisdiction extends outward 200 miles into the surrounding sea, just as it does along our Atlantic and Pacific coastlines.

No more. And no less….

Ladies and Gentlemen, for far too long, Canadian Governments have failed in sovereignty in the Arctic. They have failed to provide enough resources to comprehensively monitor, patrol and protect our northern waters.

As a result, foreign ships may have routinely sailed through our very territory without jurisdiction or permission. Any such voyage represents a potential threat to Canadians’ safety and security. We always need to know who is in our waters and why they’re there.


He closed the bar early one spring afternoon and walked towards the Rasmussen Whaling Station. The smooth sound of dead-bolt sliding into the lock seemed especially warm and liberating. On the landing, by the gutting station, he slowed his pace a bit and threw his wallet into the flotilla of intestines bobbing near the surface of the sea. It floated momentarily in the sunlight, before disappearing into the red, murky water. The retirees, the workers, the men with helmets with headlamps will be beginning to wonder, he thought. They’d soon be getting anxious and irritable. Stepping off the groomed trail, the ground gave up to a slight rise that granted him a panoramic vista of the town. His new life took a step ahead of him, ahead of the death-rattle of his old life, and he followed it with curiosity into the great white expanse.


His preferred punishment for inmates who have been sentenced to life in prison consists of ear-splitting round-the-clock broadcasts of the famous films, music works of art and literature that best represent the humanistic ideals of compassion, beauty and love. These, he argues, remind prisoners of what they are missing in their lives, or have lost, and will never have. The warden’s punishment is seen as a unique embodiment of hell by the inmates, who oscillate between bouts of disabling sadness and self-pity, violent irritation, and deadening boredom.


The Museum of Discarded Valuables honours citizens who choose to part with their possessions of value: diamonds, gold and other precious minerals or jewelry; TVs, stereos and personal computers; art and domestic decorative items; colourful or impractical garments; heirlooms and items of nostalgia. Each item is frozen in block of ice and stacked into something approaching the ancient towers of Petros. The civil servant oversees a staff that freezes the items, manages the tower’s evolving construction, and ensures that all patriotic citizens who liberate themselves from the useless and profane are acknowledged for their service and are approved for their tax break. He takes reports from the head of the security detail, whose job it is to ensure that these items are not taken back by the criminals who have had a sudden turn of heart. The civil servant works in an unassuming office that is also made from blocks of ice, a bureaucratic version of a winter palace. He spends his days signing papers with a battery heated pen that prevents the ink from turning to crayon.

Excerpt from IGLOO THOUGHT essay

The origins of the igloo dome design—an ingenious innovation which offered the structural integrity needed for larger, multi-person dwellings and multi-seasonal habitation as well as the modular adaptability to allow for the use of fire, indoor heating and cooking—is not known with any certainty. Some anthropologists speculate the development of the igloo was perhaps inspired by the  Arctic  pingos—the occasionally habitable periglacial formations that rise from the polar landscape, the result of extreme, punishing permafrost within and below the most solid of bedrock. These geological wonders grow only two centimetres per year, beginning as a fingertip-sized blister within the earth, but can extend to a half kilometre in diameter, over 50 metres high, and last over a thousand years before breaking apart under their own weight. At times Pingos crack open in sections, becoming a rare windbreaker or cave for travelers on the ice flats of the arctic tundra. Inside these formations, the idea for the igloo’s keystoning support system could easily have been imagined while witnessing the structural precision of bedrock settling into solidity as the permafrost advanced and receded under these hydrolaccolithic structures…

It is unclear whether the Prime Minister’s vision for developing and populating the north includes the use or study of igloos, or even pingos for that matter, but perhaps he should. How would he construct these outposts, villages and front-lines of defense within the logistical constraints of transportation, power infrastructure, and long periods of crippling cold. What would this northern military society look like? The igloo, that region-exclusive, vernacular folly in the history of housing, perhaps offers some ideas, as does a sustained look at the history of the people who have settled in the region…

“Like hunters, tracking every backcountry mile of the Arctic tundra,” she said. “Map where you’ve been, and bring back something good.”

Harper’s speech: Stephen Harper
All other text: Lance Blomgren, 2008-09.
Images: Lance Blomgren and Google