See our right-hand column for announcements and news briefs. Scroll down the right-hand column to access the Archives -- links to articles posted in the main column since 2007.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Celebrate Lake Superior Day in Copper Harbor July 21

COPPER HARBOR -- Celebrate the beauty and bounty of Lake Superior in Copper Harbor! Thanks to Copper Harbor community volunteers, along with the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative, the 7th annual Lake Superior Day Festival will be held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, July 21, in Copper Harbor.

Here are some special activities to be held at the 6th Street Dock along the Copper Harbor Boardwalk (near Isle Royale Queen boat dock):
  • Fish stew (Kalamojakka), homemade pies, rieska (Finnish flatbread), and more at a community picnic ($5 donation suggested).
  • Canoe races and kayak demonstrations
  • Interactive art (paint the model freighter!)
  • Presentation on Lake Superior’s geoheritage by Dr. Erika Vye from Michigan Tech’s Center for Science and Environmental Outreach
  • Celebration of the beauty of Lake Superior with photographer George Bailey
  • Log rolling demonstration from 3 p.m. - 4 p.m. by the Michigan Tech Log Rolling Club.
A canoe race offers excitement at a previous Lake Superior Day celebration in Eagle Harbor. (Keweenaw Now file photo)
From 1 p.m. - 4 p.m. a special highlight is the opportunity for festival attendees to find out how scientists study the Great Lakes by taking a 40-minute scientific excursion in the harbor aboard Michigan Tech’s research vessel the Agassiz. These excursions will be led by chief scientist Kenny Larsen (PhD student in Environmental Engineering at Michigan Tech). The excursions are offered as part of the Ride the Waves Program funded by a grant from General Motors.

Visitors board Michigan Tech's Research Vessel Agassiz for an educational excursion during a previous Lake Superior Day celebration. Checking names of passengers (who reserved seats in advance) is Lloyd Wescoat, third from right, Copper Harbor resident and education programming advisor for Michigan Tech's Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative program. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

The Agassiz will depart every 45 minutes from the Isle Royale Queen dock beginning at 1 p.m. Participants must be at least 7 years old, and children must be accompanied by an adult. All participants should wear closed-toe shoes. Space is limited. Interested participants may pre-register for a scientific excursion aboard the Agassiz by calling (906) 487-3341 or email Lloyd Wescoat at You may also register online using this link.

For more information about the event, contact lead organizer, Don Kilpela, Captain of the Isle Royale Queen, at (906) 289-4735.

Lake Superior Day is celebrated throughout the Lake Superior basin on or close to the 3rd Sunday in July in many communities around Lake Superior. The event highlights the special connections people have to this unique world treasure. All residents who live, work, play, and worship around the lake are invited to organize events in their communities or take action in their homes, at their places of employment or in community groups to help protect Lake Superior.

To learn more about Lake Superior Day events around the lake, visit Or learn more about the Great Lakes by visiting EPA’s website at: .

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

"Lights for Liberty" vigil participants protest against inhumane detention camps

By Michele Bourdieu
With photos by Miriam Pickens. 

Local residents concerned about the inhumane conditions faced by migrants -- especially those in detention camps on the U.S. southern border -- hold a "Lights for Liberty" vigil on Friday, July 12, 2019. The vigil was part of a worldwide human rights protest. (Photos © and courtesy Miriam Pickens)

HOUGHTON -- About 43 concerned citizens gathered for a "Lights for Liberty" vigil at the miner statue in Houghton on Friday, July 12, in solidarity with thousands holding vigils across the country to protest the dehumanizing conditions of detention centers for migrants on the U.S. southern border.

The July 12, 2019, Lights for Liberty vigils held from Maine to California, and internationally as well, were a response to a call for action by a group "dedicated to human rights and the fundamental principle behind democracy that all human beings have a right to life, liberty and dignity."*

"Here in the Copper Country, we participated in this vigil to help show our support for the principles that children do not belong in cages and that families belong together," said Valorie Troesch, a member of the Houghton County Democratic Party, which organized the local vigil. "We would hope that these values would be universal and non-partisan. We gathered quietly -- no march -- with candles and signs to demonstrate our united opposition to what is happening to immigrants and refugees on our southern border."

Organizer William Keith noted similar vigils were held in Marquette and Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.

William Keith, left, organizer of the Houghton vigil, displays a sign in support of diversity. Chatting at right are participants Tom Hiltunen (dark shirt) and Jim Pickens.

"So many people turned out to protest such a distant injustice because this particular cruelty shocks the conscience: children getting sick and dying in cages, adults who dared to dream of opportunity or safety in the land of hope finding only imprisonment and hate," Keith said. "There's so much this Administration has done that people of good will opposed, but this -- this is something to make the blood boil. Showing up to be present and bear witness is the least we can do, the first thing: we can tell everyone that this cruelty is not being perpetrated with our consent. The next thing to do is turn our refusal of assent into energy to stop the madness. It's a long time until November of 2020, but along the way we will do everything in our power."

Paul Mitchell, right, a volunteer with the Houghton County Democratic Party, joins another vigil participant to display a meaningful sign.

Janeen Stephenson of Houghton shared with Keweenaw Now her reason for joining the vigil.

"The way my country is treating human beings who are asylum seekers at our southern border is horrifying," Stephenson said. "We came together to express our concern and were uplifted by the honks and thumbs up of many people walking and driving by."

Janeen Stephenson of Houghton, right, and Cynthia Drake of Ripley display their Lights for Liberty candles during the vigil.

Cynthia Drake of Ripley said she participated in the Houghton vigil because she had attended a presentation by a group of Quaker youth from Milwaukee who had taken a trip to Washington, D.C., last fall after researching what was going on with ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement). These high school students talked to people in D.C. who were creating policy. Drake said she was very moved by what the youth had learned.

"The conditions already at the time they were there were just atrocious, and things were being covered up," Drake noted. "I don't know what the solutions are."

Drake said she went to the vigil knowing that the first thing we have to do is stop these conditions that treat people inhumanely.

"I do want to know what the next conversation is," Drake added. "What do we do about this situation that's better? What's an alternative that's better? And I hope that those of us who go to these vigils and these protests can think further into that and find doable solutions."

A very young vigil participant displays her sign, "No human is illegal."

Keith added this vigil is only the beginning and, as Drake also pointed out, more actions are necessary.

"It's a simple question," Keith noted. "You're either made furious by seeing the plight of scared children and refugees, or you're not. If you're as shocked and angry as we are, you're going to seek ways to fix it. This was the barest start."

* Click here to learn more about "Lights for Liberty."