“These roads are the only way our people can survive,” said Alvin Fiddler,
grand chief of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, which represents 49 indigenous
communities in northern Ontario, including 32 that are isolated from Canada’s
highway network and electrical grid and depend on the winter road system to
replenish stocks of fuel, food and building materials. Some of those
communities nearly ran out of diesel fuel because an ice road opened
several weeks late, Mr. Fiddler said.
ON THE TLICHO WINTER ROAD, Northwest Territories — In Canada’s northern latitudes, the frigid winter means freedom. That is when lakes and rivers freeze into pavements of marbled blue ice. For a few months, trucks can haul fuel or lumber or diamonds or a moose carcass to the region’s remote communities and mines that are cut off by water and wilderness, reachable for most of the year only by barge or by air.
But Canada’s ice roads — more than 3,300 miles of them — have been freezing later and melting earlier, drastically reducing the precious window of time that isolated residents rely on to restock a year’s worth of vital supplies, or to simply take a road trip. Continue Reading →