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011413 Geography of the Canadian North.doc

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GEO 605
David Atkinson

GEO605 Geography of the Canadian North 011413 Geography of the Canadian North WHAT IS NORTH? • North has ice and polar bears; it is not a cottage in Barrie • Northern community, such as Resolute Bay, are living off the land for survival (i.e. hunting and gathering) o Perishable food is flown to the north, which make shipping costs make food more expensive • North can be described based on permafrost level (frozen ice/coldness) o Continuous permafrost is easy to build on using certain building methods but with climate change, it affects building structure and stability o Permafrost is defined by vegetation; referred to as tree line (tundra)  Trees do no grow as quickly because roots cannot be embedded into the soil • North can be described based on Arctic Circle where the sun does not set or rise during certain times of month • North can be described by the boreal forest region which is the largest ecosystem in the world • Northern Quebec (Nunavik) is not a separate territory but is autonomous region o Territories cannot be defined as north WHY DO WE CARE? • The north is a concept and a place • The north is a significant part of the Canadian identity and an important component of our history, our geography and our future o Culturally, the north is part of Canada; we use it as an imagery to define the country • The north is rich with natural resources, possessing immense potential and posing immense challenges (i.e. oil, gas, and base metals) • Northern people have differing characteristics and associated needs based on their locations DEFINING THE NORTH • Louis-Edmond Hamlin devised an Index of Northness • Nordicity: a state or level of "northness", real or perceived o 10 criteria (latitude, summer heat, annual cold, types of ice, total precipitation natural vegetation cover, accessibility other than air, air service, residence population, degree of economic activity) o Each criteria scores a location between 0-100 o Value of 200 is considered the southern limit of the north • Advantages of nordicity o It formalizes the concept of northness in terms of northern salary benefits and tax benefits o It considers northern environmental factors, including permafrost and precipitation • Disadvantages of nordicity o Criteria are arbitrary and may not be universally applicable o There is no ranking to the classes (some may be more important) o It is culturally biased  "Both indigenous people and whites dislike the winter season most" o
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