Me in Comic Books:
Me in Comic Books
Whatever Happened to the District of Keewatin?
One night at a party, my friend Ginny and I are playing a geographic trivia game which involves getting chits in the right order without knowing what other chits are, and it's hard. My chit is either the Canadian arctic District of Mackenzie or Keewatin, and I have to guess which one.
- My guess is even harder because the Districts basically don't exist any more. The District of Keewatin which consists of Arctic mainland and Hudson Bay islands, along with practically all its neighboring District of Franklin which consists of Arctic islands, seceded from the Canadian Northwest Territories to form the Eskimo territory of Nunavut in 1998. The remaining District of Mackenzie is the Northwest Territory now
- At the time, the Canadian government smiled indulgently, congratulated itself about its policy of self-government for the native peoples, and kept sending subsidies. But then, it became fashionable for small dependencies of democracies to declare independence for real. Like in the Caribbean, and Greenland.
- That trend started in 1992, when the renegade superhuman Stephen Wolcott (a.k.a. Ellipsis) and his Total Conversion Foundation full o' superhumans got in trouble with the U.S. government, and took refuge in the Bahamas. Eventually in 1996, they fought back against George Bush's triumphant government - and won.
- At the time, the nominal British overlords smiled indulgently at having superhumans around that they could theoretically command. But then, other Caribbean islands started declaring independence and getting their own superhumans. This nearly caused a world war, and certainly complicated things in 1999 when the end of the world came. Really. Luckily, the world got better.
- After that, the United Nations took over command of most superhumans. Ellipsis wound up in Greenland, of all places, bankrolling a bid for independence there.
- Now that Greenland is successfully independent, parts of Nunavut want that too. Apparently not all of Nunavut wants it, because that government teat sure is addictive when your island is even colder and less self-sufficient than Greenland.
- The District of Keewatin is now part of Nunavut. It's on the North American mainland, but it's the most isolated part of North America. It is very lightly inhabited, with all its small settlements clinging to the shores and islands of Hudson Bay.
- Ships have to dodge icebergs year-round to get into the Bay, but the Bay itself is ice-free (at least in summertime), and a couple of railroads go there from Ontario and Manitoba to bring supplies and the occasional tourist.
- Most of the Canadian Arctic is tired of traditional Western civilization, wherein politicians move them about like cheap wargame pieces into (relatively) high-population areas. For them, a town of 10,000 residents is a megatropolis... and they just can't handle it. I know; I've seen them in their trashy squalor. It's even worse than Alabama.
- A lot of Nunavut was ready to return to the "old ways", which (in modern terms) is like hopping in your mobile home, heading for the countryside, and living off the land. I have to admit, it sounds attractive. But they, like most people, can't pull it off... unless they have something to attract more money from outside. They have those few tourists, but they needed just a bit more than that.
- This is where Ellipsis comes in. He throws a lot of money around, when he feels like it. It's like he's a money factory or something. Actually, experts say he does have transmutation powers...
- So, it didn't take much for Ellipsis to get Keewatin to buy into his approach to governance. The District seceded from Nunavut, and built a capital city from scratch on Charlton Island nearest the head of James Bay.
- They chose a suitable Inuit name for the place, but they also call it Keewatin City. And unofficially the authorities are trying to call it the Costa del Keewatin. In tourist brochures, though, it's showing up as the Arctic Riviera. And that isn't scaring people off. Go figure.
- The new capital has a casino, with lots of Ontarioan and Quebecois guest workers, and water shuttles (or ice shuttles or even helicopters, depending on season) from the railheads at Moosonee, Ontario and Port Rupert, Quebec.
- What railhead at Port Rupert, Quebec? Well, it seems that once Ellipsis declared an interest in James Bay, the Province du Quebec was so interested in developing its Baie-James watershed after all these years that it finally commissioned a railroad leading there. They'll have to burn through 300 km of Arctic swamp to get there, but there are superhumans who can help them out for a suitable fee.
- Commentators think the new railroad will enhance the province's ability to hold onto the non-French-speaking Quebec northlands if Quebec should finally secede from Canada. The Canadian government is starting to get worried.
Personally, I think Ellipsis is awfully good at helping out the downtrodden subject peoples when it's benevolent Western democracies treading on them. He should go try to help the Kurds or the Tibetans sometime. Until he manages something like that, I have to say that for all his power, he's not all that good at freeing people where it really matters. Common soldiers seem to be better at that than he is, and they don't need superpowers for that. Armor and heavy ordnance, surely...
(4 April 2003)