REBECCA, OUR DAUGHTER, has delighted in her summer treasures: an explosion of flowers across the tundra. My wife, Annie, is surprised to discover these plants. She wonders aloud why they weren't in those places when she was a child in Pangnirtung.
"Less than 30 years ago," she said, "the snow stayed on all of these mountains all through the year. There were even one or two small glaciers." We notice that this summer the greens and browns have overcome the whites.
In July and August, 1995, three Canadians from Nanaimo sailed a seven-metre, steel-hulled boat from west to east through the Northwest Passage. Winston Bushnell, the captain, said that he was relieved, but amazed, to encounter so much open water. Scientists, working north of Resolute in that summer could confirm this, because they experienced more fractured ice than they'd ever seen.
Every year, from January to April, a collection of shacks on the ice of Cumberland Sound announces the fishing season is in progress. A community of fishers break through the nearly two-metre thick ice to harvest the halibut below. The resulting catch provides a welcome income for many people in Pangnirtung. However, in the past two winters, the unstable ice conditions have made these rich grounds hazardous to …