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Friday, February 23, 2024

UPDATED: Yoopers for Ukraine, community groups welcome two visiting "ambassadors" for Ukraine

By Michele Bourdieu

Visiting Ukrainian poet Yuliya Musakovska displays a "Stop Putin Stop War" sign during the Feb. 4, 2024, Walk for Ukraine in Houghton. Pictured with her are the three Loosemore children -- from left, Kaitlin, Jethro and Jacob -- who attend the Walks for Ukraine regularly with their Dad, John Loosemore (holding sign and American flag in background). (Photo courtesy Yoopers for Ukraine)

Yoopers for Ukraine have attracted more supporters this month with two visitors from Ukraine joining the weekly Walk for Ukraine on the Portage Lift Bridge and giving presentations at various events both at Michigan Tech and in the local community. Ukrainian poet Yuliya Musakovska, who was here in early February, was invited by Michigan Tech Associate Professor M. Bartley Seigel, Creative Writing and Literature, Director of the Michigan Tech Writing Center as well as 2021-2022 U.P. Poet Laureate. Following her visit, Emily Marie Rutkowski of Detroit, who travels back and forth to Ukraine delivering first aid kits and other useful items for Ukrainian soldiers, came to Houghton for several days of fundraising for her group, Misha's Angels. Emily was invited by Nadija Packauskas, co-founder of Yoopers for Ukraine, who organized several community events to assist in the fundraising.

Emily Marie Rutkowski, founder of Misha's Angels, is pictured here, third from left, with members of International Neighbors, one of the community groups she visited in Houghton earlier this month. (Photo © and courtesy Nadija Packauskas)

Visit by Yuliya Musakovska, Ukrainian poet

Yuliya Musakovska is from Lviv, Ukraine. An award-winning poet, translator, and member of PEN Ukraine, Yuliya is the author of five poetry collections in Ukrainian, most recently The God of Freedom (2021) and a bi-lingual collection, Iron in Polish and Ukrainian (2022). She has received numerous literary awards in Ukraine and her works have been translated into more than twenty languages.

In addition to reading some of her poems and their English translations, Yuliya spoke during a panel discussion on Ukraine at Michigan Tech on Feb. 1. She spoke about her friends, colleagues and fellow writers who have been killed during Russia's war of aggression in Ukraine. She also noted she believes in traveling and sharing her poetry because sharing her culture is an act of resistance against an aggressor who is trying to eliminate Ukrainian culture.*

"Russia is a machine of hate and destruction, and it can only be stopped by force," Yuliya said. "Let's stop this evil together and let justice prevail."

Yuliya also participated in the Feb. 2 opening of the Michigan Tech art exhibit, "Simple Machines: Poetry, Letterpress, and the Art of the Little Magazine" in the Rozsa A-Space Gallery. The exhibit, which continues through March 30, is an interactive poetry exhibit where participants can hear poets reading their work.

Ukrainian poet Yuliya Musakovska joins Michigan Tech Professor and poet M. Bartley Seigel at the opening of the Michigan Tech art exhibit, "Simple Machines: Poetry, Letterpress, and the Art of the Little Magazine" in the Rozsa A-Space Gallery on Feb. 2, 2024. (Photo © and courtesy Nadija Packauskas)

Nadija Packauskas, co-founder of Yoopers for Ukraine, attended the art exhibit and invited Yuliya to join the weekly Walk for Ukraine.

"The community is very grateful to M. Bartley Seigel and Michigan Tech for bringing such a world-renowned poet to the UP!" Nadija said.

On Feb. 4, Yuliya joined the weekly Sunday Walk for Ukraine and spoke afterwards during a reception for her held by Yoopers for Ukraine in the Downtowner restaurant in Houghton.

Here Nadija Packauskas of Yoopers for Ukraine welcomes Yuliya and supporters to the Feb. 4 Walk:

As the 2-year mark of the war in Ukraine approaches, Nadija Packauskas, co-founder of Yoopers for Ukraine, addresses participants in the Feb. 4, 2024, Walk for Ukraine in Houghton.(Videos by Keweenaw Now)

The Feb. 4 Walk for Ukraine begins:

Carrying flags and signs, participants in the Feb. 4 Walk for Ukraine in Houghton head for the Portage Lift Bridge to Hancock.

Karen Liimatta came from Marquette to join the Feb. 4 Walk for Ukraine.

Karen Liimatta of Marquette, MI, who came to Houghton for the Feb. 4, 2024, Walk for Ukraine, tells Keweenaw Now how her church is welcoming Ukrainian families who have come to Marquette since the beginning of the war.

Elizabeth Flynn, Michigan Tech Emerita Professor of Reading and Composition, also participated in the Feb. 4 Walk. 

"I went to the walk in support of Ukraine because the country needs our help in its heroic fight against imperialist Vladimir Putin," Flynn told Keweenaw Now. "I also went because our Congress needs to pass legislation to provide desperately needed aid. I remember when the domino theory explained aggression such as Putin’s. If he wins, he won’t stop there."

After displaying their flags and signs to passing traffic in Hancock, participants in the Feb. 4 Walk for Ukraine return to Houghton.

Led by visiting Ukrainian poet Yuliya Musakovska, participants in the Feb. 4, 2024, Walk for Ukraine return to Houghton, MI, from Hancock on the Portage Lift Bridge.

Following the Feb. 4 Walk, participants attended a reception for Yuliya in the Downtowner restaurant in Houghton. She spoke to the group about Ukraine and also read some of her poetry.

Ukrainian poet Yuliya Musakovska speaks at a reception held for her by Yoopers for Ukraine on Feb. 4, 2024, following their weekly Walk for Ukraine.

At a reception for her following the Feb. 4, 2024, Walk for Ukraine in Houghton, MI, Ukrainian poet Yuliya Musakovska reads a translation of one of her poems.

Miriam Pickens, local resident and artist, who has assisted Nadija Packauskas with several Yoopers for Ukraine projects, commented on the Feb. 4 Walk and reception.

"I really enjoyed meeting new people who were walking -- loved the energy!" Miriam said. "The afterparty was great; got to hear some amazing poetry. Nadija is an amazing organizer."

Miriam Pickens, right, is pictured here with Yoopers for Ukraine co-founder Nadija Packauskas during the reception for Ukrainian poet Yuliya Musakovska on Feb. 4. (Photo © and courtesy Nadija Packauskas)

Emily Marie Rutkowski of Misha's Angels raises funds for Ukrainian soldiers

Who would think that a young woman from Detroit would visit Houghton for a few days and receive more than $5,000 in donations from local community groups for Micha's Angels -- a Kyiv-based organization she founded in Michigan that supports several military units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine? In fact, the group has provided over $50,000 worth of aid for Ukrainian soldiers since October 2023. That includes the following:

  • Individual first aid kits (IFAKs)
  • Winter gear, including thermal socks, thermal underwear, gloves, hand and toe warmers
  • Mine detector
  • Ballistic glasses
  • Tactical medical supplies
  • Christmas gifts for children of fallen heroes

The fundraising group is named for Misha, a black kitten rescued from the trenches by a group of soldiers in Ukraine. His dad is a friend of Emily's and a US Marine veteran who served with the Ukrainian Marines and is now on the eastern front with the 3rd Assault Brigade. Emily, his mom, volunteers to help keep Ukraine defenders safe by raising funds for much-needed items.

Emily Marie Rutkowski, second from left, displays a photo of Misha the kitten during one of her visits in Houghton. Also pictured, from left, are Nadija Paskaukas; Emily's parents, Nancy and Dale; Nadija's dad, Vytautas Packauskas; and Emily's aunt, Rose Zidzik. (Photo © and courtesy Nadija Packauskas)

On Feb. 15, Emily spoke about Misha's Angels and her volunteer work of fundraising to provide needed items for Ukrainian soldiers at two local community groups -- International Neighbors (pictured above) and the Rotary Club and received a donation from each, with a combined total of over $1,000.

Emily Rutkowski chats with Nadija's dad, Vytautas, at the International Neighbors visit. (Photo © and courtesy Nadija Packauskas)

Emily speaks about Misha's Angels at the Rotary Club in Houghton. (Photo © and courtesy Nadija Packauskas)

On Feb. 16, Nadija and the NISU bakery in Hancock held a Wine and Cheese event, where Emily spoke for an hour about her work and collected $645.

Supporters of Ukraine pause for a photo during the Wine and Cheese fundraiser for Misha's Angels at the NISU cafe in Hancock on Feb. 16. (Photo © Nadija Packauskas and courtesy Miriam Pickens)

"In total with funds from Yoopers for Ukraine collected for IFAKs Emily left the UP with $5,045!" Nadija reported.

On Feb. 14, for Valentine's Day, Yoopers for Ukraine held an extra Walk for Ukraine across the Portage Lift Bridge, followed by a reception for Emily and her family. She also spoke with Keweenaw Now about Misha's Angels and her work.

Yoopers for Ukraine walk across the Portage Lift Bridge from Houghton to Hancock on Feb. 14, 2024. Visitor Emily Marie Rutkowski of Detroit, founder of Misha's Angels, joins the Walk.

Participants in the Feb. 14 Walk for Ukraine return from Hancock.

Following the Feb. 14 Walk, Emily and her family enjoyed a reception in the Downtowner restaurant, where she spoke with Keweenaw Now about her work for Misha's Angels and her interest in helping soldiers with PTSD.

During the Feb. 14 reception for Emily and her family in the Downtowner,  Emily tells Keweenaw Now about the group she founded, Misha's Angels, and the work they do in donating first aid kits (IFAKs) to Ukrainian military units.

Emily also described many other items the funds for Misha's Angels have been able to supply to Ukrainian troops, especially helpful in the cold winter -- the hand and toe warmers, warm socks and thermal underwear. Some of these soldiers are stationed as close as three miles to the Russian border and in need of supplies. The funds raised here are mostly used to purchase Ukraine-made items, thus saving money and helping the Ukrainian economy as well.

Emily shared photos of safety gear such as night vision devices and a mine detector.

Emily shows Keweenaw Now a photo of a mine detector purchased with Misha's Angels funds.

"Ukraine's actually the most heavily mined country in the world right now," Emily said, "and actually night vision is also really important because one of the units we were helping, without night vision ... the guys were having to hold on to each other when they're walking around at night, which is really dangerous because if they do hit a mine it's going to be not just one person that's injured but a bunch."

They are also in more danger from Russian shooting or bombing when they're all clustered together, she added.

Visiting a facility that helps Ukrainian soldiers who have PTSD inspired Emily to consider such work as a future career for herself.

During an interview with Keweenaw Now, Emily Marie Rutkowski of Detroit speaks about a PTSD center in Ukraine that helps soldiers. She also shares photos of Ukrainian soldiers on the front lines.

If you wish to contribute funds to help Misha's Angels with their work, you can email or for Pay Pal: @EmilyRutkowski

Events this weekend: 2-year anniversary of invasion

Yoopers for Ukraine will hold several events this weekend since Saturday, Feb. 24, marks two years of Ukrainian resistance against the Russian invasion:

Noon, Saturday, Feb. 24, at Houghton Pier, near Portage Lake District Library: A rally to recognize the two-year anniversary of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine

6:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24: Prayer Vigil at Veterans Park

7:15 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 25: Sunrise Community Prayer Service at Houghton side of Portage Lift Bridge.

3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 25: Walk for Ukraine. Meet on Houghton side of Portage Lift Bridge.

For more info on Yoopers for Ukraine, visit them on Facebook.

* Editor's Note: Click here for a video recording of the panel discussion with Yuliya -- videotaped by Nadija Packauskas.

Wednesday, February 07, 2024

REQUIEM FOR THE OVERLOOKED, exhibit by Cynthia Coté, opens at Finlandia Art Gallery: Feb. 8 - Apr. 3

Cynthia Coté, Calumet artist and founding director of the Copper Country Community Arts Center, has an exhibit of her work, REQUIEM FOR THE OVERLOOKED, at the Finlandia Art Gallery in the Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock, through April 3, 2024.

HANCOCK --  REQUIEM FOR THE OVERLOOKED, an exhibit by Calumet artist Cynthia Coté at the Finlandia Art Gallery, is open!

A reception for the artist will take place from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 8, at the gallery, with an artist talk beginning at 7:20 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

Ink beadwork by artist Cynthia Coté. (Photos courtesy Finlandia Art Gallery)

REQUIEM FOR THE OVERLOOKED is an installation of drawings, collage, beadwork, and fiber art constructions, displayed alongside a collection of objects that inspired the work.

From the gallery installation of Cynthia Coté's colored pencil drawings.

Gallery installation of ink drawings by Cynthia Coté.

Finlandia Art Gallery is located in the Finnish American Heritage Center, 435 Quincy Street, Hancock, 906-487-7500 or email

Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday. REQUIEM FOR THE OVERLOOKED continues through April 3.

Tuesday, February 06, 2024

Cirque FLIP Fabrique to present BLIZZARD Feb. 9, 10, at Rozsa

FLIP Fabrique -- a circus company based in Québec, Canada -- will present BLIZZARD, an enchanting snowstorm that blends creativity with daring choreography, at 7:30 p.m. this Friday, Feb. 9, and at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 10, at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts. (Image courtesy Rozsa Center)

HOUGHTON -- This Friday and Saturday, the Rozsa stage will transform into an enchanting snowstorm, whether or not the snow is falling outside! Cirque FLIP Fabrique's BLIZZARD will open at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9. A Sensory-Friendly Matinee at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 10, is designed to invite all members of our community into the magic of the event without sensory worries, including those on the autism spectrum, young children, individuals with sensory sensitivities, and first-time theatergoers.

Born out of the dreams and the friendship of circus performers in 2011, Cirque FLIP Fabrique is renowned around the world for combining astonishing feats with true visual poetry. (Photo courtesy Rozsa Center)

With BLIZZARD, FLIP Fabrique takes you on a crazy, poetic and gentle journey in the dead of winter, and invites you to lose yourself in a moment of complete wonder. With performers at the peak of their art and outstanding visual poetry, BLIZZARD promises to blow away everything in its path.

The show will last 75 minutes, no intermission. Seating is Reserved. Click here for tickets.

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Indigenous Peoples' Participation at COP28

By Nyasha Milanzi*

Prior to attending the COP28 climate conference -- held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), from November 30 to December 12, 2023 --  my knowledge of Indigenous Peoples in the environmental justice space was primarily centered around Native American communities in Michigan, which I had learned about through my present role as a research assistant for a ReJUST project at Michigan Tech. Our primary focus is on studying the air quality of an indigenous community in Michigan, specifically evaluating the impacts of a local energy generation facility that predominantly employs a mix of polluting fuels such as wood, paper, plastic, and tire-derived materials.** Inset Photo: Author Nyasha Milanzi is pictured here at COP28 while attending a session on climate finance for youth projects hosted by the Financial Times. (Photo courtesy Nyasha Milanzi)

However, at COP28 I had the privilege of meeting Indigenous Peoples advocating for climate action from various corners of the world -- Africa, Australia, South America, Asia, and Europe. A particularly enlightening moment for me was the conversation I had with Jean Mary Tjiohimba, a San indigenous from South Africa, who delivered a moving closing speech at the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Multi-stakeholder High-Level Dialogue at COP28. During our discussion, she shared insights about the presence of San and Khoisan indigenous peoples in Zimbabwe, a revelation that went beyond the historical narratives I was taught in high school and marked my first encounter with a San individual.

Phase out fossil fuels

Collection of art displayed in Indigenous Peoples Pavilion Building at COP28. (Photo courtesy Nyasha Milanzi)

Indigenous Peoples who participated at COP28 passionately advocated for a fast phase-out of fossil fuels, whether through impactful demonstrations or expressive art forms. This platform served as another crucial opportunity for Indigenous Peoples to highlight the disproportionate toll of climate change on their communities and ecosystems. Simultaneously, they emphasized the adverse effects stemming from the extraction and utilization of fossil fuels. One of the demonstrations that moved with me depicted a poignant scene -- a nurse tending to a patient, representing the Earth, within the confines of an emergency room. The symbolism was striking, as the nurse conveyed a powerful message: the Earth's recovery hinges on our collective commitment to cease the burning of fossil fuels worldwide.

A recent study conducted within the United States has brought to light alarming public health hazards associated with air and water pollution throughout the fossil fuel life cycle, with a starkly disproportionate impact on Black, Brown, Indigenous, and economically disadvantaged communities. Analyzing 2018 Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators data revealed that 56 percent of the toxic burden from refineries is borne by minorities, who constitute 39 percent of the population, while 19 percent is carried by poor individuals, representing 14 percent of the population. Additionally, pollution attributed to natural gas infrastructure poses an elevated cancer risk impacting one million Black/African-Americans.

The authors of that study further say the concept of racial capitalism both elucidates why Black, Brown, Indigenous, and poor communities are disproportionately affected by fossil fuel health hazards and also underscores why more than 30 years of international climate negotiations have thus far failed to curtail fossil fuel production. Notably, it's unprecedented that, for the first time in the history of 28 climate change negotiations, the phrase "phasing away from fossil fuels" appeared in a document agreed upon by all 197 parties at COP28.

Indigenous and Traditional Technologies, Sciences, and Innovations Multi-stakeholder dialogue at COP 28

The Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform (LCIPP) within the 2022-2024 work plan is tasked with organizing discussions involving various stakeholders, including Indigenous Peoples, local communities, Parties, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).*** The primary goal is to enhance the involvement of Indigenous Peoples and local communities in the development and implementation of global climate change policies.*** The incorporation of indigenous knowledge, with fair and ethical treatment of these groups, aligns with the overarching objective of the Paris Agreement -- which emphasizes the promotion of climate action rooted in the best available science and, when suitable, traditional indigenous knowledge. 

The Indigenous and Traditional Technologies, Sciences, and Innovations Multi-stakeholder dialogue at COP 28 includes discussion of ethical and equal treatment of indigenous knowledge. (Photo courtesy Nyasha Milanzi)

Interplay between scientific knowledge and indigenous knowledge

In this dialogue, a thought-provoking point was raised: Researchers' work typically spans 3-4 years, while indigenous methods have proven effective for thousands of years. The question arises: which do we trust today, the former or the latter? With a background in electrical engineering, I might assume my colleagues prioritize the former. However, delving into social sciences methods as part of my Masters degree study has led me to a nuanced perspective. I refrain from asserting trust in one over the other, recognizing the unique merits and contexts that each brings to the table. Here are my reasons.

Repeatedly, science and engineering solutions have unveiled unintended and sometimes severe consequences, such as climate change. Acknowledging that both science/engineering and indigenous knowledge have their shortcomings, I push for a collaborative approach that leverages the strengths of each for the benefit of our planet and its inhabitants. Reflecting on the unintended consequences of technologies like AI and solar, I recognize the need to critically assess potential harms, even amid the excitement about their positive aspects.

A Sustainable Development class in fall 2023 challenged my Western views on sustainability, emphasizing the valuable contributions of indigenous knowledge to scientific endeavors. From the stories of African pastoralists to instances like the study on fire-spreading birds in Australia, it is evident that Western scientists often dismiss traditional knowledge unless it aligns with their claims. The study on firehawks, while novel to Western science, had long been known to indigenous peoples in northern Australia, revealing a double standard in accepting traditional knowledge within Western science. This discrepancy calls for a re-evaluation of the relationship between these two knowledge systems.

Integrating indigenous knowledge into climate initiatives

Panel discussion organized by Shruti Punjabi, Virginia Tech, at the Dominican Republic Pavilion at COP28. Pictured here, from left, are Jerry Huang, Harvard; Nyasha Milanzi (author of this article, with microphone), Michigan Tech University; Erika Lopez Lara, UCLA; and Neel Dharwadkar, Duke University. (Photo courtesy Kathy Halvorsen)

Sherilee Harper, vice-chair of Working Group I at the IPCC, candidly recognized that many United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) working groups have ample room for improvement in incorporating indigenous knowledge. Nevertheless, the engagement of various stakeholders within the UNFCCC, actively listening to the concerns of indigenous peoples, left a positive impression on me. In addition, Harper highlighted a study by Pasang Dolma Sherpa, the Indigenous Peoples' Representative to the U.N., who has consistently advocated for indigenous voices in the UNFCCC. Historically, global discussions on climate change have overlooked these voices.

Of the 197 parties at COP28, fewer than 100 had negotiators aligned with the Indigenous Peoples' agenda. My perception is that the UNFCCC is taking steps to listen to and encourage the active participation of indigenous voices, notably through the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform (LCIPP). However, it is crucial to move beyond mere acknowledgment and ensure the implementation of sound policies.

I recommend future initiatives should focus on guaranteeing that indigenous peoples are not adversely impacted by UNFCCC policies established during annual COP conferences. The emphasis should shift towards empowering indigenous communities with the necessary resources for comprehensive climate change action, encompassing both adaptation and mitigation, without prioritizing one over the other. A critical component of this approach involves substantial funding for the LCIPP platform, ensuring that those most affected, such as indigenous peoples, play a role in shaping policies that directly impact their livelihoods. Moreover, efforts should be made to include individuals from indigenous communities in party negotiating teams -- especially from Africa.


* Nyasha Milanzi of Zimbabwe, author of this article, is pursuing a masters degree in sustainable communities at Michigan Tech University. In her research she merges Geoscience and Social Science methods in studying Socio-Ecological and Socio-Technological Systems in the United States and Sub-Saharan Africa. Click here to read about her reasons for attending COP28. Read about her take on the UAE Consensus here.

** In her current role as a research assistant, Nyasha Milanzi is contributing to a project funded by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at Michigan Tech, in collaboration with the Center for Energy and Environment in Minneapolis. The primary focus of the project is on studying the air quality of an indigenous community in Michigan, specifically evaluating the impacts of a local energy generation facility that predominantly employs a mix of polluting fuels as she mentions above. The researchers investigate the air quality impacts from the facility as well as the drivers of energy transitions, encompassing fuelwood use, efficiency improvements, and beneficial electrification, with a dedicated effort to assess the broader impacts of transitioning to renewables.

*** See: LCIPP Third Annual Gathering of Knowledge Holders -- Dialogue with Parties and other stakeholders | Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform.

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Keweenaw Green Burial Alliance presents progress in local cemeteries' acceptance, development of green burial options

Signs in Chassell Township cemetery indicate an area reserved for green burial. (November 2023 photo by Keweenaw Now)

The Community Room at Portage Lake District Library was nearly standing room only on November 20, 2023, for a presentation by Keweenaw Green Burial Alliance (KGBA) President Stephen Jukuri on "A Tale of Two Cemeteries: Chassell Township Outperforms with Green Burial."

The event was KGBA's first "post-pandemic" community update on what this non-profit educational and advocacy organization has been learning in the past few years about both successes and failures of green burial in local Upper Peninsula cemeteries -- from Chassell to Nisula.

Jukuri prefaced his presentation by introducing some of the KGBA Board members who were present at the Nov. 20 event:

At the beginning of Keweenaw Green Burial Alliance President Stephen Jukuri's Nov. 20, 2023, community update on green burial, KGBA Board Members Jenn Donovan, Candy Peterson and Sue Ellen Kingsley speak briefly on their interest in green burial and how they became board members for this organization. Jukuri notes funeral director Jeff Dennis is also a KGBA board member. (Videos by Keweenaw Now)

Stephen Jukuri opened his presentation by explaining why the usual definition of green burial, i.e., burial 

  • with NO Conventional embalming fluids
  • with NO Vault
  • and With biodegradable materials
is true but no longer sufficient.

During his Nov. 20, 2023, presentation on green burial, Keweenaw Green Burial Alliance (KGBA) president Stephen Jukuri discusses why the original definition of green burial is insufficient. He notes various reasons why people prefer green burial.

Noting that, beginning in 2015, Joe Youngman of Chassell developed the areas in the Chassell Township cemetery for their aesthetic qualities -- for example, a natural, woodsy environment with many trees -- Jukuri gave several reasons for Chassell's success in providing green burial opportunities.

Stephen Jukuri cites the number of green burial plots that have been sold in the Chassell cemetery in just five years (76 of 102 plots were sold) as evidence of its success, noting the importance of aesthetics and a connection to the natural world.

A bridge leads to one of the green burial areas located along the side of the Chassell cemetery. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Next Jukuri compared the Chassell Township cemetery's achievements for green burial to Portage Township's less successful efforts to provide for green burial at Forest Hill cemetery. Both townships launched green burial in the fall of 2015.*

Stephen Jukuri explains why Forest Hill cemetery in Portage Township, has not been successful in providing green burial plots -- as opposed to Chassell cemetery, where 76 plots have been sold since 2015.

The Marquette cemetery's green burial area dates from 2019. Jukuri noted considerable progress in what they offer and a recent surge of interest in green burial as evidenced by 27 of 250 plots sold, including 12 just last summer, even though their plots are expensive.

Recounting his disappointment during a visit he made to the Marquette cemetery green burial section, Jukuri points out improvements made since then. At first their area for green burial lacked aesthetics, but local residents have removed invasive plants such as spotted knapweed and the new sexton is working to make positive changes.
Jukuri noted this progress in Marquette indicates "people are opting for green burial even if it's less than perfect."
Finally, Jukuri mentioned smaller cemeteries in the U.P. that are developing green burial areas, including Evergreen Cemetery in Eagle River, Jacobsville, Herman, Nisula and more.
Evergreen Cemetery, which is fully plotted (no room for additional plots) has designated certain rows for green burial. They have also eliminated the vault requirement for the cemetery.

Jacobsville Cemetery, Jukuri said, decided, just before COVID, that they would no longer require vaults.

"They allow green burial throughout the cemetery and have no residency requirement," Jukuri added.

Herman Cemetery in l'Anse Township, Baraga County, recently allowed green burial as of last summer (2023). They no longer require vaults and are planning to have some simple green burial rules. Since they are small, Jukuri said, they do restrict burial to people who have lived in Herman or who have close family who have lived there.

Jukuri also described development of green burial in some small cemeteries, including Nisula and Champion, and one large one -- Lake View Cemetery near Calumet.

Stephen Jukuri speaks about some local cemeteries that have recently begun to allow or plan for green burial areas and policies. 

Nisula has recently done surveys to determine how much land is available to include green burial. Champion has received a donation of an attractive piece of property that is designated for green burial. Lake View Cemetery is a private cemetery with shareholders and has indicated they are planning for green burial, but so far haven't announced details (as of the time of this presentation).

Arlene Ross of l'Anse, who attended the Nov. 20 presentation, said green burial is something she's been interested in for many years.

"Great!" Ross commented on Jukuri's presentation. "I think it's the wave of the future. Less land wasted and no carbon footprint. Traditional burial has a large waste of resources and land and contributes to pollution."

Roseann Terry of Houghton said she heard about the presentation from KGBA Board Member Candy Peterson.

"My husband died about a year and a half ago and he was cremated," Terry said, "but this sounds like something I would like to do. This was a great presentation! My whole thoughts on the future are changed now...and I wish more people would think this way." 

KGBA Board Member Jeff Dennis, manager of Pearce Funeral Home in Lake Linden, spoke with Keweenaw Now after this presentation on his support for green burial as a funeral director.

"I think that in general we're seeing a shift in people's attitudes -- being more environmentally conscious -- and that attitude is even trickling its way into the funeral industry," Jeff Dennis said. "People are getting more aware of the environmental impacts their choices make, and they want to be more environmentally friendly. I think there's a trend overall in all their choices, and even in their funeral choices, to be more environmentally friendly."

As a KGBA Board member, Jeff succeeds his father, Mark Dennis, manager of the O'Neill-Dennis Funeral Home in Hancock, who served on the KGBA Board for a three-year term.

One KGBA board seat is available to local funeral directors who have demonstrated strong support and commitment to green/natural burial practices. This seat is open to all such funeral directors on a rotational basis.

Learn about green burial, local cemeteries that support it, how it differs from conventional burial and cremation, and more on the KGBA Web site:

One first step for anyone interested in green burial is to check out KGBA's Green Burial Planner. Planning ahead includes free consultation with a funeral director. Also, while it may be a little more common to purchase cemetery lots ahead of time, buying them is not necessary for planning ahead.

* Editor's Note: Chassell Township Cemetery is presently the only local cemetery that allows green burial in winter, with some caveats. For details, click here for their Green Burial Section Rules.

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Enter Sew Cranky's "Snowflake Challenge" now for prizes; enjoy family fun at Jan. 19 "Hobbyhorse Hoedown"

Sew Cranky invites you to drop in at 322 Quincy Street in Hancock to create a snowflake for this year's "Snowflake Challenge." Cash prizes! (Poster courtesy Ginger Alberti of Sew Cranky)

HANCOCK -- This winter's Heikinpäivä festival in Hancock includes two family events -- the "Snowflake Challenge" at Sew Cranky and the "Hobbyhorse Hoedown" at the Finnish American Heritage Center.

Snowflake Challenge

Sew Cranky is a unique shop in Hancock where you can create a snowflake using a hand-crank sewing machine and enter it in the "Snowflake Challenge" any time from now to February 16, 2024, for cash prizes or a gift certificate. You can drop in at 322 Quincy Street in Hancock and Sew Cranky will supply the machines, materials and help. Snowflakes must be made on Sew Cranky's antique hand-cranked machines. The contest is open to all ages. Cost is only $3 to enter a snowflake, and the money goes to the cash prizes. All skill levels can win prizes. This is a drop-in project, but if you have a group you can call to check how busy they are. Winners will be announced on Feb. 23, 2024. You do not have to be present to win.

During the 2022 "Snowflake Challenge," Mike Sabo of Sew Cranky offers Jethro Loosemore advice on using a hand-crank sewing machine to create a snowflake for the a drop-in project for all ages that is happening again this winter at the Hancock shop. Also pictured, from right, are Maureen Loosemore, assisting son Jacob, and Kaitlyn Loosemore. (Keweenaw Now file photo)*

Sew Cranky is open from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. every day except Sunday. Call 906.523.5803 or 818.606.0065 to check availability. The Snowflake Challenge is part of Heikinpäivä, a Finnish Theme Committee, City of Hancock, winter event.

Hobbyhorse Hoedown

The Hobbyhorse Hoedown offers fun for the whole family. (Poster courtesy Ginger Alberti of Sew Cranky)

The Hobbyhorse Hoedown (Family Fun Night) is also part of Heikinpäivä, a Finnish American winter festival in Hancock that will occur in January 2024. Bring the whole family to the Hobbyhorse Hoedown from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 19, 2024, at the Finnish American Heritage Center, 435 Quincy Street, Hancock. If you made a Hobbyhorse, bring it for Hobbyhorse games for young and old, a Grand Gallop March, Hoedown Dances, Finnish Dances and snacks. Music will be provided by Oren Tikkanen, Dave Bezotte and Matt Durocher. Bring a horse, borrow a horse, or just come and dance! Admission is only $5 per family.

You can also ride your Hobbyhorse in the Heikinpäivä Parade on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024.

The Hobbyhorse Hoedown offers fun for the whole family! (Poster courtesy Ginger Alberti)

This event is sponsored by Heikinpäivä / Finnish Theme Committee and the City of Hancock. For more info call 818.606.0065 or email

*Editor's Note: CLICK HERE to see our Feb. 13, 2023, Keweenaw Now article on last winter's Snowflake Challenge.

Saturday, December 09, 2023

Yoopers for Ukraine hold emergency Rally urging messages to legislators on funding for Ukraine

By Michele Bourdieu

Organized by Yoopers for Ukraine, an emergency Rally for Ukraine on Thursday, Dec. 7, attracts local residents who wave flags and display their signs and new banner on the Houghton side of the Portage Lift Bridge. The demonstration called attention to the need to contact legislators in Congress and request  funding for Ukraine. Click on photos for larger versions. (Photo © and courtesy Nadija Packauskas of Yoopers for Ukraine)

HOUGHTON -- Yoopers for Ukraine, a local group promoting activities in the U.P. to support Ukraine, held an emergency Rally for Ukraine on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023, in Houghton. Their new banner announced, "Support Ukraine Above Politics," a message to voters to contact legislators who have been unable to agree on US funding for Ukraine. 

According to organizer Nadija Packauskas, a co-founder of Yoopers for Ukraine, it is crucial that Congress vote to extend the aid to Ukraine before their session ends for the holiday break. The House of Representatives is scheduled to remain in session only until Dec. 14 and the Senate until Dec. 15, 2023.

Here is an excerpt from Nadija's explanation of this situation:

During an emergency Rally for Ukraine on Dec. 7, 2023, in Houghton, Nadija Packauskas of Yoopers for Ukraine speaks about the importance of contacting legislators on the urgency of voting for funding to support Ukraine. (Video by Keweenaw Now)*

The following poster summarizes the steps citizens can take to contact legislators as soon as possible to request that they vote to support funding for Ukraine before the present funding period expires:

This poster provides an easy way to contact legislators with a one-minute phone call to request a vote for aid for Ukraine. (Poster courtesy Yoopers for Ukraine)

Hancock resident Miriam Pickens, who has participated in a number of Yoopers for Ukraine events and activities, told Keweenaw Now why she attended the Rally.

"I attended the Rally for Ukraine because I want people to know that we will continue to support the Ukrainian people in their fight against Russia," Pickens said. "I admire Nadija’s passion and perseverance, and I feel privileged to stand with her." 

Bill Binroth, whose community activities include serving free meals for senior citizens and others, has been participating recently in the weekly Walks for Ukraine on the Portage Lift Bridge and joined the Rally to show his support. Here he tells Keweenaw Now why he considers support for Ukraine important:

Bill Binroth speaks about his participation in the Rally and in weekly Walks for Ukraine. (Video by Keweenaw Now)

Beth and Tom Maki of Lake Linden often join the weekly Walks for Ukraine and were present at the Rally as well. Their son, Matt, is a teacher in Ukraine who has stayed there in spite of the war, helping students in the region who wish to study in the US.

Beth Maki, left, and Miriam Pickens display the Yoopers for Ukraine banner as the Rally begins. At right is organizer Nadija Packauskas. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Tom Maki, left, takes a turn carrying the banner with Nadija. (Photo courtesy Yoopers for Ukraine)

John Loosemore of Hancock, a US Army veteran -- who has participated in almost all of the Walks for Ukraine on the Portage Lift Bridge and in other activities sponsored by Yoopers for Ukraine, usually bringing his three children -- told Keweenaw Now why it was important for him to attend the Rally.

"It was important to me to attend the rally because I'm really shocked and disappointed by what is going on in Washington," Loosemore said. "As I see it, the Republican Party is playing political games that encourage Putin to hold on tighter and fight harder, which is causing more Ukrainians to die every day. Ultimately it will make the conflict longer and more destructive. It is no exaggeration to say that the Republicans are giving aid and comfort to the enemy -- and I say that as a pretty conservative person. I've voted for Republicans a lot in the past."

US Army veteran John Loosemore displays flags and a message to Putin in Veterans Park during the Dec. 7 Rally for Ukraine in Houghton. (Photo © and courtesy Nadija Packauskas)

During the Dec. 7 Rally for Ukraine in Houghton, Nadija Packauskas of Yoopers for Ukraine pauses for a photo in Veterans Park. (Photo © and courtesy Nadija Packauskas)

Nadija thanked the participants at the Rally for coming out on a cold, windy day on short notice and reminded them of the importance of calling Senators and Representatives on both sides of the aisle, since this is a bi-partisan issue, to ask them to vote for aid to Ukraine before they leave for the holiday break this coming week. You can call any time of the day or night and talk to a staff member or even leave a message. See the poster above or visit #Call4Ukraine for details.

Rallies like the one in Houghton are being held across the country to call attention to the need for funding for Ukraine at this crucial time. Visit Yoopers for Ukraine on Facebook for more information.

The weekly Walk for Ukraine on the Portage Lift Bridge is now being held at 3 p.m. on Sundays through the winter.

Saturday, December 02, 2023

UPDATED: From Michigan Advance: Michigan Public Service Commission votes to advance permitting for Enbridge’s Line 5 tunnel project

By Kyle Davidson*
Posted Dec. 1, 2023, on Michigan Advance

Republished here with permission through Creative Commons

"Why make this public commission anyway if it’s planned out to disagree with us," said Moses Biber, 9, following the Michigan Public Service Commission’s approval of Enbridge’s Line 5 tunnel project. Click on photos for larger versions. (Photo © Kyle Davidson of Michigan Advance)

The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) on Friday, December 1, approved a permitting proposal for Enbridge’s controversial Line 5 tunnel project, despite calls from within the packed Lansing meeting room for commissioners to shut the pipeline down.

The tunnel project was proposed as a solution to safety concerns with Enbridge’s Line 5 pipelines, located in the Straits of Mackinac.

Line 5 -- which stretches from Superior, Wis., to Sarnia, Ontario -- includes two pipelines located on the lakebed in the environmentally sensitive Straits of Mackinac. Line 5 transports up to 540,000 barrels of crude oil and natural gas liquids per day, according to Enbridge.

Environmental activists and tribal nations have called for a shutdown to the pipelines out of concern for a potential oil spill in the Great Lakes.

According to For Love of Water (FLOW), a nonprofit dedicated to protecting water health in the Great Lakes Basin, the pipeline was built in 1953 and was designed to last 50 years. Since 1968 Line 5 has failed at least 33 times, spilling at least 1.13 million gallons of oil on land and in wetlands.

MPSC Chair Dan Scripps outlined the concerns created by the pipeline in its current state, noting the largest threat to the pipeline's failure comes from an anchor strike.    

Michigan Public Service Commissioner Chair Dan Scripps offers comments ahead of the vote on whether to approve a siting permit for Enbridge's Line 5 tunnel project. Pictured at the table with Scripps are Commissioner Katherine Peretick, left, and Commissioner Alessandra Carreon. (Photo © Kyle Davidson of Michigan Advance)

While Commissioner Alessandra Carreon abstained from the vote, citing her appointment to the board four months prior and the more than 1,500 filings in the case, as well as more than 20,000 public comments.

Scripps and Commissioner Katherine Peretick voted to approve the siting application.

"Nor is such a threat purely theoretical. It happened just five years ago, when an anchor struck and dented the dual pipelines lying on the bottomlands of the Great Lakes," Scripps said. "Fortunately, the pipeline didn’t rupture in that case, but there’s no guarantee we’d be so lucky the next time. It’s clear. We need to get those pipelines off the bottomlands and out of the Great Lakes."

In reviewing potential alternatives to the pipelines, the commission found Enbridge’s proposal to relocate the pipelines into a concrete lined tunnel embedded in the bedrock below the lake represented the best option to mitigate the danger the pipelines currently present, Scripps said.

While Commissioner Alessandra Carreon abstained from the vote, citing her appointment to the board four months prior and the more than 1,500 filings in the case, as well as more than 20,000 public comments.

Scripps and Commissioner Katherine Peretick voted to approve the siting application.

While the company has received approval for the project from both the MPSC and the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) -- which is currently being challenged by the Bay Mills Indian Community -- it must also receive approval from the U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers (USACE).

Earlier this year, the USACE announced it would be delaying a key step in its review of the pipeline replacement project, which Enbridge spokesperson Ryan Duffy said could delay the start of construction to 2026.

Enbridge must also meet four conditions set by the MPSC:

  • Enbridge must receive required governmental permits and approvals and make no significant changes to the route and location of the Straits Line 5 replacement segment within the tunnel.
  • No third-party utilities may be co-located within the tunnel without application and approval by the commission.
  • Enbridge must exceed minimum federal regulations to ensure the safety, integrity and reliability of the Straits Line 5 replacement segment.
  • Enbridge must also submit a detailed risk management plan to the State of Michigan before beginning construction.

Enbridge issued a statement following the approval of the permit.

"With the MPSC’s decision, the Michigan agencies involved in the permitting process have given the go ahead for this critical project. We recognize the tremendous investment of time and deliberation by the MPSC and staff leading to this decision. The MPSC carefully examined this complex issue and considered many viewpoints, questions, concerns, and ideas," the statement read.

"Enbridge would like to thank everyone who provided public comment on the project. We are also grateful to the organizations that intervened in the MPSC approval process to advance the project, including the National and Michigan Propane Associations, and the Michigan Laborers’ District Council. The input from intervenors on both sides of the issue raised important questions that challenge us all to get this right."

Following the approval of the siting permit, the commission faced a flurry of public comments condemning the decision. 

"I’m disgusted that grown adults such as yourself could believe such utter B.S. that Enbridge has been throwing at you and make a decision that holds no confident regard for our future in this state," said Pearl Biber, a 13-year-old member of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians.

Pearl Biber, 13, spoke out against the Michigan Public Service Commission's decision to approve a siting permit for Enbridge's Line 5 tunnel project at its December 1, 2023, meeting. (Photo © Kyle Davidson of Michigan Advance)

"This is not a reasonable solution. It’s a phony solution," Biber said.

While Scripps noted the state’s transition to clean energy sources in his comments before the vote, he said the transition would not happen overnight, and the commission has a responsibility to approve projects to meet the state’s energy needs.

Nichole Keway Biber pushed back on Scripps’ comment.

"You know what can happen overnight, could happen just a minute from now, is that a 73-year-old pipeline could just rupture," Keway Biber said.

"Our tribal governments do not approve this. Our governor and our attorney general do not approve this," Nichole Keway Biber said, condemning the Michigan Public Service Commission's approval of Enbridge's Line 5 tunnel project. (Photo © Kyle Davidson of Michigan Advance)

"You just made it that much more likely, because basically [Enbridge gets] to keep the oil going. While they have their little pet project. We all know it’s probably going to be contested by people who are sane and care about our collective future. But in the meantime, they can keep their oil flowing," she said.

Andrea Pierce, network manager for the Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition and chair of the Michigan Democratic Party Anishinaabek Caucus, said she was "disgusted" by the committee’s vote.

Andrea Pierce expresses strong opposition to the MPSC's vote for a tunnel siting permit. (Screenshot photo by Keweenaw Now)

"You’re supposed to protect the Great Lakes, protect us. [These] pipelines and tunnels are going to go through my tribal lands, through my people’s lands through my community. And I think that’s just reprehensible," Pierce said.**

Whitney Gravelle, president of the Bay Mills Indian Community, condemned the decision in a statement.

"Instead of complying with a Governor’s [Gretchen Whitmer's] public safety order to decommission Line 5 in Michigan, individuals working at a state agency granted Enbridge a permit for a project for which they hold no property rights and no safety track record in good standing," Gravelle said. "Today’s decision is another notch in a long history of ignoring the rights of Tribal Nations." 

When the pipeline was initially constructed in 1953, there was no consultation with tribal nations, review of treaty rights or impact on those treaty rights, David Gover, managing attorney for the Native American Rights Fund, told the Advance.

In 1836, several Anishinaabe tribes ceded vast acres of land and water to the U.S. Government in return for the guarantee that the Tribal Nations would retain the right to hunt, fish gather and continue living as Anishinaabe in the ceded territory.

The Native American Rights Fund has identified Line 5 as a threat to treaty-rights, resources, and the Anishinaabe people’s fundamental way of life. All 12 of Michigan’s federally recognized Tribal Nations have passed resolutions opposing Line 5’s continued operation.

"I don’t think the MPSC allowed the tribal voice to be heard, to the extent that it was offered; we had testimony that showed impacts to the treaty rights by this project, and a lot of that was eliminated or barred from being added to the record by an [Administrative Law Judge’s] ruling early on in the case," Gover said.

Rebecca Liebing, in-house counsel for the Bay Mills Indian Community, also noted that the Straits of Mackinac are an important cultural and sacred site for many Tribal Nations. 

"It’s a place where many tribes practice both their treaty rights and different ceremonies. And so I think it’s not a small thing for tribes to share that information with these agencies," Liebing said. "This is cultural knowledge that is of high value to the tribes so when they share it, they share it in good faith and hope that it will be considered and given proper weight, and that’s just not what we’re seeing."  

Christopher Clark, senior attorney for Earthjustice, also noted concerns on the safety of the tunnel.

"We presented evidence to the commission from a pipeline safety expert, who expressed serious concerns about the design of this tunnel. He is concerned that the way this is designed there is a significant risk that there will be a release of product from the pipeline inside the concrete," Clark said. 

"The concern that you have when you have a release within the tunnel like that, although the product is liquid [natural gas], it vaporizes when it is released," Clark explained. "So for example, propane, which is a natural gas liquid, becomes a gas when it is released like that, and that gas is highly flammable, which creates a risk of an explosive event inside the tunnel."

Another expert testified that an intense fire with high temperature could cause the concrete to fail, exposing the underlying steel and potentially causing the tunnel to collapse, allowing the product to reach the water of the straits, Clark said.

Additionally, while Line 5 poses a significant risk in the Straits of Mackinac, it also poses a threat to the many waterways it crosses, many of which feed into one another and into the Great Lakes, Clark noted.

"There is a significant threat in the straits. But it’s not the only place where there’s a threat. And that’s why the pipeline needs to be shut down," Clark said.

As far as potential challenges to the Commission’s decision, everything is on the table, Liebing said.

While a number of environmental groups including the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club, Oil and Water Don’t Mix and the National Wildlife Federation released statements opposing the decision, state Rep. Cam Cavitt (R-Cheboygan) pushed back against opposition to the pipeline.

"Anytime Line 5 gets mentioned, we’re bombarded by environmental activists clamoring about potential oil spills," Cavitt said in a statement. "Enbridge is ready to address safety concerns by updating aging infrastructure. Instead of moving quickly, bureaucrats have held Enbridge back at every opportunity."

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat who has been fighting in court to shutter Line 5, also released a statement in response to the commission’s decision.

"In issuing its decision today, the Michigan Public Service Commission highlighted the risk posed by the pipelines currently located on the bottomlands of the Straits of Mackinac and the catastrophic effects an oil spill would have on the Great Lakes," Nessel said. "Even with today’s approval, the fact remains that we are still years away from the tunnel actually being built. In the meantime, Line 5 is a ticking timebomb in the heart of the Great Lakes." (Inset Photo: Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. Photo courtesy

Nessel also noted her commitment to her case filed against Enbridge to shut down Line 5.

Nessel filed a brief in September with the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals asking that the case be returned to state court, where it was originally filed and litigated for more than a year.

"I am committed to seeing that case through, and I will always take action to protect Michigan’s citizens and natural resources from the threat of pollution," Nessel said.

* Editor's Note: Thanks to Michigan Advance and Reporter Kyle Davidson for sharing this article via Creative Commons. To see more photos and the original article click here.

**UPDATE: Editor's Note: See the Dec. 6, 2023 interview with Andrea Pierce for further reaction to the MPSC decision on Line 5 and the tunnel: