Snow accumulating up to 15cm (just over five inches) over the next few days will give the region a little more of a Winter look… contrary to the feel Churchillians are getting from the continued “warmer” air temperatures that have returned once more. Temperatures are now hovering just below the freezing mark with not a whole lot of existing snow- cover. Although the wind-chill surely won’t allow for tee shirts and shorts, nobody seems to be complaining about the October-like reprieve.
Local Dene elder Caroline Bjorklund was out riding around with a friend and they came across an arctic hare scampering around the outskirts of town. A few foxes, of the red and arctic variety, also were out looking to take advantage of the shallow snow cover and store up some last energy morsels before the inevitable turn to true Winter conditions. Although polar bears have not been spotted recently, Caroline and friend saw some fresh paw tracks just near the grain elevator at the port.
The relationship between bears and people in Churchill is truly a strange, dichotomous one. Without polar bears the town would surely be quite different…..and, although locals by and large are not big polar bear lovers due to the safety risk, the bears seem to be the heart and soul of the town. When they are mostly gone in late November, stories of finding fresh tracks or hearing Manitoba Conservation cracker shells echo in the distance ring like forlorn tales of lost friends. After all, the two month focus on polar bears surely is exciting and once done the void seems great. The sensation one feels after losing a limb…feeling the appendage is still there…is probably not an apt analogy but I think you get the idea, eh?
The Churchill Northern Studies Center is nearing the completion of its’ massive reconstruction project way out East at the end of the highway. A new state of the art research and housing facility is hoped to be finished by Spring.The building looks like a grounded “Noah’s Arc” according to Caroline Bjorklund and other locals. I guess if global warming accelerates considerably in the future, Churchillians and the researchers will all be in the same “boat”. Now that would be some reality series.
The Northern Studies Center and Parcs Canada are conducting a science symposium in Winnipeg on January 19-21, 2011. Each year the Churchill Northern Studies Centre hosts a Research Symposium in southern Manitoba and every other year Parks Canada hosts a Wapusk National Park Research and Monitoring Meeting. This year the two have joined together to present a CNSC-PC two day science symposium. It will be a platform for researchers to present and discuss ongoing and completed projects worked on this past year. For more details go to the center’s website at www.churchillscience.ca.