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圖克托亞圖克:加拿大最后的極地村落

Tuktoyaktuk: Canadas last Arctic village?
圖克托亞圖克:加拿大最后的極地村落

One million antlers were set against the northern sky. Or so it looked from the vantage point of the revving snowmobile as it lurched across the tundra basin. Around 3,000 wild reindeer had bunched together on the horizon, their branched horns seamlessly melding with an endless swathe of skeletal willow and black spruce. We were 60km south of the Arctic Ocean in the remote northern reaches of Canada’s Northwest Territories, and left to Mother Nature it was a spectacle unaffected by man for millennia.

無數鹿角戳向北方的天際,當我們乘坐的雪地摩托車彎彎拐拐疾馳過苔原盆地,看到的便是這般風景。三千頭野馴鹿聚集在地平線上,它們枝丫一般的鹿角,和綿延無盡的枯柳、黑云杉融為一片。我們身處北冰洋以南60公里、加拿大西北疆域的極北邊地,這片留給大自然母親的凈土,千百年來人類都未曾染指過。

Two bushy foxes bounded across the permafrost, scattering the herd downhill past shoreline lichen onto a frozen lake ahead. The hush of the Arctic winter broken, the herd became a flurry of tawny hides and hooves.

兩只毛茸茸的狐貍躍過永凍土,嚇得鹿群四處奔逃,飛奔下坡,碾過岸邊的苔蘚,跑到了冰凍的湖面上。黃褐色的馴鹿萬頭攢動,北極冬天的寧靜被打破了。

“Listen,” said Inuvialuit (Western Canadian Inuit) guide Noel Cockney softly, as he stopped his Ski-Doo and gestured across the ice. It was -25C and his voice barely pierced his thick protective face mask. “When the reindeer run, it sounds like rain on snow. That’s the sound of the tundra.”

“聽,”因紐維阿勒伊特(加拿大西部因紐特人)導游考克尼(Noel Cockney)停下摩托雪橇,指著冰面輕輕地說。這時氣溫零下25度,他的聲音好不容易才從厚厚的保護面罩里透出來。“馴鹿奔跑的時候,聽起來好像雨點打落在雪地上。這就是苔原的聲音。”

Hidden deep at the top of the country’s largely unexplored Arctic perimeter, Canada’s largest reindeer herd have long lived in solitude. Every spring, the scruffy animals migrate west to their calving grounds on nearby Richards Island to rear their young, but these days they have more to contend with than just wily foxes and wolf packs.

深藏于加拿大幾乎尚未開發的北極圈內最北端地區,這個加拿大規模最大的鹿群已在荒野中與世隔絕地生活了千百年。每年春天,這群變得臟兮兮的動物就向西遷徙到理查茲島附近的產子之地,孕育自己的后代。然而如今,他們不僅要與狡猾的狐貍和狼群斗爭。

They now have to deal with the arrival of man.

更要面對人類的到來。

For the last two millennia, the only people who have been able to understand and adapt to this land are the Inuvialuit, the custodians of the north who live in settlements across the Mackenzie Delta, where Canada’s longest river system empties into the Arctic Ocean. Numbering around 5,700, the Inuvialuit have maintained a lifestyle as traditional as it gets in the Americas. In step with the seasons, they are bound to the land, trapping Arctic hare, fox and lynx for meat and fur in the colder months; in summer they harvest beluga whales during sanctioned hunts along the Tuktoyaktuk coast to provide the sustenance they need to get through the long winter.

在過去的兩千年里,唯一能理解、適應這片土地的,就是北方的看門人——因紐維阿勒伊特人。他們定居在麥肯齊河三角洲,在那里,加拿大最長的河流匯入了北冰洋。因紐維阿勒伊特族有大概5700位族人,他們的生活方式十分傳統,從遷徙到美洲后就沒怎么變過。而且他們的生活和季節、土地緊密相關,在嚴寒時節要捕北極兔、狐貍和猞猁,取其皮肉;夏季便沿著圖克托亞圖克海岸合法捕獵白鯨,為熬過漫長的冬天儲存糧食。

The opening of the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway in November 2017 has changed everything for this frozen wilderness. Built at a cost of CAD$300 million and nicknamed the Arctic Ice Road, the 137km-long, two-lane gravel highway is the first all-weather road to Canada’s Arctic Coast, cleaving this isolated tract of tundra in two.

而2017年11月因紐維克-圖克托亞圖克公路的開通,改變了這片凍土荒原的一切。這條兩車道的礫石公路全長137公里,耗資約15億人民幣(18億港幣),人們稱之為“北極冰道”。它是加拿大北冰洋沿岸首條全天候公路,把這片與世隔絕的苔原大陸一分為二。

The highway could also be described as the world’s toughest. Taking four years to build – three to create a thick-enough layer of hard-packed gravel to withstand the harsh winters, and one to refine the surface – it’s been designed to tolerate temperatures that can tip below -40C as well as hit 20C on summer nights when the sun never sets.

這條公路也被稱為世界上建造最艱難的公路。耗時四年建成,前三年夯實了厚厚一層礫石路基來抵御嚴冬,第四年鋪設路面,其設計既能承受零下40度的低溫,也能抵御太陽永不落的攝氏20度夏夜。

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And yet even though this is a lifeline for the remote indigenous Inuvialuit community of Tuktoyaktuk (population: 850), the last Arctic village on the edge of mainland Canada’s frozen wilderness, the road is proving divisive. Conceived as a path to oil and gas exploration by former prime minister Stephen Harper’s administration, some see it as a road to resources (despite a temporary moratorium on offshore licences from Justin Trudeau’s government). Others call it a vanity project, bringing this fragile community one step closer to cultural erosion.

偏遠的圖克托亞圖克是加拿大大陸的冰原邊緣最后一個北極村莊,有原住民因紐維阿勒伊特人850名。盡管這條公路是其交通命脈,但也帶來了一些負面效應。按照前總理史蒂芬·哈珀政府的構想,這條路是為了開采石油天然氣而建造。所以有的人將其視為通往資源之路(盡管賈斯丁·杜魯多的政府臨時終止了其境外執照)。也有人稱之為“面子工程”,將使得這個本來就很脆弱的族群更易受到外來文化的侵蝕。

But for its ardent supporters, including Tuktoyaktuk local Noel Cockney who spent two years working on the road, the highway marks a rebirth for this ultra-remote community. Opening the outpost year round to visitors for the first time ever, it is an opportunity for progress and possibility. In summer, drivers can now reach otherwise inaccessible lakes and rivers, many of which have never been explored. In winter, there is the visceral thrill of witnessing the reindeer herd and driving to out-of-touch Tuktoyaktuk, whose name means ‘looks like a caribou’ in the local language. And for locals, the new route is a potential honeypot for attracting investment and jobs.

不過對于熱心支持者而言,比如兩年來都為這條公路而忙碌的圖克托亞圖克原住民考克尼,這條公路標志著這個極度偏遠社區的新生。村落有史以來首次向游客全年開放,這是帶來發展進步和無限可能的機會。夏天,駕車而來的人能抵達從前到不了、大多未被探索過的湖泊河流。冬天,可以去看馴鹿群,感受壯麗景色帶來的內心震撼,也可以開車到與外界失聯的圖克托亞圖克,在當地方言中這個地名意即“看起來像一只馴鹿”。對原住民而言,這條新路也許會引來投資、帶來工作。

Prior to the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway, the community’s winter connection to the outside world was a rudimentary and ephemeral ice track that melted every spring.

在因紐維克-圖克托亞圖克公路造好前,這個族群若想在冬天與外界聯系,靠的是一條原始的冰道,使用時間很短,一到春天就消融了。

“Getting to ‘Tuk’ used to be incredibly difficult,” said Cockney, parking his snowmobile at a viewpoint overlooking the new highway. “In winter, our way out vanished into thin air, and in summer it was a choice of two: fly or take a boat along the river.” Now, since the road’s arrival, local carrier Aklak Air has suspended its daily service.

“以前想前往‘圖克’非常非常難,”考克尼把摩托雪橇停在一個觀景點,遠眺新造好的公路,“冬天我們出來的路會消失得無影無蹤,夏天想出來倒是有兩個選擇,要么坐飛機,要么坐船沿河而行。”如今有了這條公路,本地運輸公司阿克拉克航空公司已經暫停了日常服務。

Another individual embracing the road’s opportunity is Kylik Kisoun Taylor, a second-generation Inuvialuit who represents the vanguard of the next generation of northerners. A board member of the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada and owner of Tundra North Tours, an Inuit company based in the village of Inuvik at the southernmost point of the road, Taylor grew up in southern Ontario but felt the call of the north from the moment he returned at age 16.

另一位全心擁抱公路帶來的機遇的人,是一位第二代因紐維阿勒伊特人泰勒(KylikKisoun Taylor)。他走在這些北方人下一代的最前沿,是加拿大本土旅游協會的常務理事,以及北苔原旅游公司( Tundra North Tours)的老板,這家因紐特人的公司建在公路最南邊的因紐維克村里。泰勒在安大略湖北部地區長大成人,16歲時受到北方故鄉的召喚,便回到自己的故土創業。

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“Indigenous culture is a resource here and tourism has the power to harness it,” he told me, clad in seal fur, as we pulled out of Inuvik while driving the new road north. “Whether it’s trapping a duck or killing a caribou with a spear – the value of keeping these cultural traditions alive can’t be underestimated. Indigenous communities are forgetting how to use these Arctic skills, but they can be compatible with tourism and the modern world. And I want to educate visitors about this.”

我們沿著新公路一路向北離開因紐維克時,這位穿著海豹皮的仁兄告訴我:“這里的本土文化是一種資源,旅游業有能力把它好好用起來。不論是挖陷阱捕鴨,還是用矛殺死馴鹿,保存這些文化傳統的價值不容低估。這里的原住民們已經漸漸忘記這些北極生存技能,但他們可以和旅游業以及現代社會好好相處。我希望讓游客知道這些事。”

For all that the highway divides local opinion, to drive it is mesmerising. Far from an arrow-straight highway, it loops and bends, hugging the north’s frozen ponds, the so-called Eskimo Lakes, a system of brackish estuarine basins. At the roadside, the Richardson Mountains and boreal forest fade until they disappear completely, leaving the windshield crowded with nothing but a panorama of bald ice. And there are so many shades of white, the sky takes on a pale-coloured glow.

雖然這條公路在當地帶來爭議,行駛其上卻十分迷人。這條公路絕不是筆直的,而是沿著北方的一個個凍結小湖七彎八拐地向前延伸。這些小湖泊又稱為愛斯基摩湖,組成了一大片咸水湖流域。在公路一側,理查德森山脈和北方針葉林逐漸淡去,最后消失在地平線,從擋風玻璃望出去空無一物,唯有光禿禿的無盡冰原。面前是一片深淺不一的白色,天空透著淡淡的光芒。

“You haven’t seen the Arctic unless you come in winter,” said Taylor as we passed a huge plateau of ice. Up close, wind-blown snow rushed the road, moving gravel like an illusion. “We’re at the edge of the tree line here – this is the limit of where it’s comfortable to live.”

我們開過一片巨大的冰封高地時,泰勒說:“除非冬天來,否則不算看過北極。”近在咫尺,風雪吹刮著公路,看起來路面的礫石都動了起來,十分夢幻。“我們已到林木線的邊緣——越過這里人類就沒法舒舒服服生活了。”

Past a series of pingos, periglacial landforms made of earth-covered ice that are Canadian national landmarks, Tuktoyaktuk began to make its presence felt. As if divorced from its own country, the village sits segregated on a spit of land jutting out into the Arctic Ocean. There are no sugar maple or spruce, or any trees for that matter – only endless ocean, the cold grey waves frozen and paused.

我們來到冰原邊緣,經過一座座覆蓋著泥土的冰丘,這叫著冰核丘的奇特地貌是加拿大的國家地標,這時可感覺到圖克托亞圖克已近在咫尺。這座村莊遠離自己的國家,獨自坐落在伸向北冰洋的尖端地帶。沒有糖楓樹,沒有云杉,反正什么樹都沒有,只有無邊無際的海洋,和凍結了的冷灰色海浪。

Two and a half hours after setting off, we finally parked near a pier entombed in ice. Tuktoyaktuk’s streets were empty from the cold. The husky huts, where sled dog teams bedded down, were shut for the night. No-one was around except at the Tuktu B&B, where I met owner Maureen Pokiak, who discussed the road’s impact with me over dinner. Her husband, James, she apologised, was out on an overnight musk ox hunt.

出發兩個半小時后,我們終于停在一個已被冰掩埋的碼頭附近。因為寒冷異常,圖克托亞圖克的街上空無一人。晚上,雪橇犬們睡覺的愛斯基摩小屋關了起來。四周不見人跡,只在圖克早餐旅店(Tuktu B&B),我們見到了老板娘伯其婭克(Maureen Pokiak)。吃晚飯時她與我談論了公路的影響,還向我道歉,說她先生詹姆斯(James)通宵外出去獵麝牛了。

“This community is in our blood, so I don’t anticipate too many changes,” she said, while sharpening a traditional ulu knife to prepare a customary indigenous meal – raw beluga whale, or muktuk. “There’s a hardcore element who love the extremes of this environment, and they live and breathe tradition. The road may make life a lot easier for folk in the longer term, but we’ll remain connected to the land – that’s the way it’ll always be.”

“這個族群已深入我們的血液,所以我覺得公路帶來的變化不會太大,”她邊說邊打磨烏盧刀,準備處理當地的傳統食材——生的白鯨和鯨魚皮。“這里有些鐵桿頑固者,他們熱愛這里極端的氣候,他們的一呼一吸、一舉一動都十分傳統。從長遠來看這條路可能會讓生活變得更容易,不過我們仍然心系土地,在這里永遠會這樣生活。”

Only when our truck headed back south to Inuvik in the darkness, the street lights diffusing a glow across the snow, did I start to understand what she meant. As the road crossed a series of humpback hills, the Arctic sun rose to reveal the ever-shifting beauty of the tundra, the epic drama of the landscape lit in an all-encompassing brilliant silver on white. Out in the pre-dawn light, the reindeer herd were moving on, the sound of ‘rain’ on snow a signal that life in the tundra will go on. Just as it has always done.

當我們的卡車在黑夜中一路南行返回因紐維克,路燈在大雪中散發點點光芒,我終于開始明白她說的話。公路越過駝背樣的座座山丘,北極的太陽升了起來,一點點照亮苔原上銀裝素裹的美景,變幻燦爛,如史詩歌劇一般。在拂曉的晨光中,鹿群正在前行,他們的蹄子在雪地上踩出的“雨聲”,訴說著苔原上的生命將這樣延續下去。從古至今,一如既往。

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