Thanks Tuk

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Raised by 70 people in 19 months
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Helping an Arctic village to cope

Starting this summer - 2018 - the High Arctic hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk (pop. 965) is about to be invaded by an armada of tourists and adventurers. While this may seem like great news, this invasion is not of their doing, it is the result of the construction of new section of gravel highway from Inuvik to the Arctic Ocean. Tuk is a very remote and precariously fragile village; it needs additional resources to handle this influx. Our project will, to some humble measure, contribute to this Inuvialuit community's ability to greet and cope with the thousands who will be driving up the Dempster hoping to reach the Arctic Ocean.


On the shores of the  Arctic Ocean, there is a tiny town that has been the dream of all adventurers for decades. Tuktoyaktuk, aka Tuktuyaaqtuuq, and aka Tuk, was, until recently, a destination reserved for ice-road truckers, the native Inuvialuit population and the usual suspects from the territorial and federal governments. I have been fortunate enough to visit Tuk several times, the first time in 1976 while working in Gjoa Haven with my dad,  again in 1981 while serving with the Canadian Armed Forces and twice more as an adventurer. The reason so few people went up to Tuk is simple, there was no road. Yes, there was the winter ice road, made famous on television – Ice Road Truckers – and there was the airport, but that's it. Tuk was basically an isolated hamlet of 965 residents, at latitude 69 North, about 3000 miles due north of the US / Canada border.

Until recently, the nearest road was the gravel Dempster Highway that ended in Inuvik, over 100 miles south of Tuk.

All this changed in November 2017 when the Canadian and Northwest Territorial governments finally completed the construction of the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk section of the Dempster. That's right, one can now drive all the way up to Tuk from Alaska, the Continental US or any of the Canadian provinces or territories - you can drive to Tuk 12 months a year!

That's great news, right?

It is and it isn't great news.

Tuk is about to be invaded by thousands of tourists and adventurers. They are going to go up there by motorcycle, 4x4, RV, some will even bicycle there. Our first reaction is to think that this is great for the community. Tourists are going to arrive and spend lots of dollars. Unfortunately, Tuk is under-equipped to handle this sudden avalanche of tourists. They don't have a hotel, the village is about to open its first eatery, there are no campgrounds, waste management is insufficient for all these visitors and RVs will have no dumping site... remember, this is a tiny tiny tiny native Inuvialuit community on the shores of the Arctic Ocean!

My idea

A few months ago, I was reading a thread on an adventure motorcycle forum I belong to. There was a thread asking the question: "What can we do for Tuk?" Many, rightly believed that we should arrive with respect and realistic expectations. Some forum members suggested bringing toys for the children. One suggested we actually help to build a hotel, Habitat for Humanity style.

It got me thinking. Being a photographer and designer, as well as an adventure motorcyclist and amateur radio operator, I was looking for a project that spoke to my own experience and could be a win-win for anyone who supported the project, for the community of Tuk and for its visitors.

Here it is... Travelers to distant lands want to buy a sticker or a badge. I always do. My stickers are proudly stuck on my motorcycle saddle bags.  So I called the Tuktoyaktuk Economic Development office and spoke to Annie Steen, the Economic Development Officer. Apparently, they currently do not have any stickers they can sell, so I asked her how she would feel if I could get several thousand stickers printed, brought them up myself this coming spring, and gave them to the Tuktoyaktuk community for free. They in turn would sell them to visitors thus making a clean profit that they could use to reinvest in the community's tourism infrastructure. She loved it. In short, we have the support and blessing of Tuk's Council. They are looking forward to something they can sell to visitors.

Your donation

Your donation will pay for the printing of the stickers that Tuktoyaktuk's Council will then sell. If I raise all the money I hope to raise, and print at least 10,000 high-quality, outdoor stickers. Tuk will then sell each sticker for $5 or more, In the end, they will have raised at least $50,000. For Tuktoyaktuk, that is a lot of money to reinvest in the community!

I said it was a win-win project. It is, because we - the visitors - will be able to buy these stickers and display them proudly. My only selfish act is to hope that I can be the first one to buy a sticker and stick it on to my motorcycle; I'll buy a second one for my accompanying Jeep (the Jeep will be carrying the stickers!).

Note that any money left beyond what is needed to print and ship the stickers, will go directly to Tuk in the form of a donation.

The sticker

This is the design. I hope you like it. The sun represents Tuk's 24-hour summer sun - aka, the Midnight Sun. The thinning ice under the polar bear represents the melting of the ice cap due to climate change. The latitude is obviously the latitude of Tuktoyaktuk. Last but not least, in looking for a good phrase, I thought it would be nice for buyers to be able to brag that they had made it all the way up the Dempster, as far as Tuk, on the shores of the Arctic Ocean. Few people have that bragging right!

Beyond the sticker

Beyond this campaign, it is my intention to cede all rights for this design to the Tuktoyaktuk Council, thus allowing the Hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk to use it in coming years to print additional stickers, embroidered patches, t-shirts, etc. **Edit** We have decided to produce embroidered patches this year!! We're trying to get them done well but quickly. Details on our Thanks Tuk Facebook page.

About Tuk

If you'd like to know more about Tuktoyaktuk, visit their website here: http://www.tuktoyaktuk.ca or the Tuk wikipedia page here:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuktoyaktuk

About me

This campaign is not about me, it is about the people of Tuk. But in case you would like to know about me, my little one-man company Excess Noise LLC is a documentary filmmaking and photography firm. See my portfolio here: Excess Noise Art 

About the delivery

I was initially going to deliver the stickers in person. Instead, we have decided to ship the stickers up there as soon as each batch is printed to give Tuktoyaktuk more time to sell more stickers.


To all my motorcycle, 4x4, overland, RV and other adventurer friends...
You know the impact people have on native communities. I hope we can all come together and lend a helping hand.

To my Amateur Radio friends...
This will not be a formal DXpedition, but I will be transmitting on HF from Tuk. Before leaving, I will give you all the spotting details. 73s. K3MRI.

To my photographer and filmmaker community...
I hope you'll come up to Tuk someday, in summer or winter. You will be breathless, not just from the cold, but from the beauty that surrounds you.

To my military colleagues...
You've always been there for me. I thank you and hope that you will support me.

To my friends and family...

Please help me spread the word. Share away... This is not a grand, big-scheme project, it is simply a humble means of helping a fragile North American Native Community to remain sustainable.

Thanks to all...

Cemil (Jim) Alyanak

R1200GSA-LC 2014
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It’s done. My very long, boring for some, dizzying for others, time-lapse covering my Spring 2018 ride from D.C. to Tuktoyaktuk.

Should you choose to watch the whole film, you will subject yourself to a 55-minute ride across America and up to the Arctic Ocean

The film starts where I started, in Washington D.C. and makes its way across the entire U.S.A., up through Alberta, along the entire mythical Alaska Highway, through Whitehorse where I met up with Anne and Eddie, and finally up the Dempster from Dawson to Tuk, passing through Eagle Plains and Inuvik. If you like long distance riding, I encourage you to watch the whole thing. If, however, you'd like to just watch portions, by all means, no offense taken, I have listed the milestones below.

The first 11 minutes take us from Washington D.C. to Dawson Creek, B.C., in Canada.
The Alaska Highway portion starts at: 11:40.
The Dempster Highway portion starts at: 24:06.

I list my thank you's in the film, but allow me here to especially thank all those who donated to the Thanks Tuk campaign and to those who bought an 'I Made It To Tuk' sticker once they got to Tuktoyaktuk.

I hope this film will inspire you to travel up the Dempster. If you do, be respectful of it and thank all those you come into contact with; remember, they live there.

Enjoy, but I repeat, watch at your own risk and please, don’t tell me it’s too long, I know, I was there!
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Hi Everyone. It's been a while. Well, since my last post, much has happened. For one, I went up to Tuk (don't worry, the trip was paid by my film company, not the donations:-))) The ride was amazing. As a bonus, I was the first motorcycle ever to ride up the entire Dempster and make it into Tuk. The stickers are doing amazingly well. People on motorcycle forums are posting about them. As soon as visitors get to Tuk, the first thing they want is the Made it to Tuk sticker!! All this thanks to your amazing donations. To date, they have sold over a thousand stickers and the road has only been reopen for just over a month! We are currently preparing the second batch of stickers and also some embroidered patches to send up for next season. As for the photo here, this is me, with Annie Steen in Tuk, buying my own sticker for $5! It was the greatest feeling. Again, thanks to all!!
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Dear friends, time for an update on the Thanks Tuk campaign.

Frankly, I am overwhelmed by all the support we've received. So far, we have printed several thousand stickers, enough for a couple of years, and they are all safely in Tuk waiting for visitors to buy them (including me!).

I also ordered 750 embroidered patches but they arrived defective {very defective} :-( The supplier refunded me but I don't want to work with them again. I won't have time to recommission them from someone else in time for my departure (in nine days) so I'll get them done during the summer. I have also offered to design and print some postcards for Tuktoyaktuk, with photos I take while I'm up there. I'll keep you posted.

Please note that I am going to keep the campaign open for another week but then I'll close it down.

Thanks again to all those who contributed. Annie Steen, Economic Development Officer of Tuktoyaktuk sends all her thanks as well.

Big hug to all.

Cemil 'Jim' Alyanak / K3MRI
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HAPPY!!! The first batch of stickers, several thousand, are now IN TUKTOYAKTUK!! They have arrived! Annie has told me how pleased they are with them. They will be going on sale shortly. She has promised me that she would be the very first client!! Annie and I are going to talk tomorrow about what else we can do together for Tuk. Maybe patches? Reflective stickers? We'll see... In any case, THANK YOU to all who have contributed and please, if you still believe in this project, share it with others. We'd like to keep going and give Tuk that little bit of extra help. Really very happy right now!!
Annie with the first batch of stickers
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$3,656 of $5,000 goal

Raised by 70 people in 19 months
No Longer Accepting Donations
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