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Meet Francis Tessier-Burns

Meet Francis Tessier-Burns

The month of April brings many things to the North—longer days, (supposedly) warmer temperatures and, to the Up Here staff toiling away on the 8th floor of Yellowknife’s Precambrian Building, the services of Francis Tessier-Burns.
By Up Here
Apr 08

Frank’s a soon-to-be graduate of Halifax’s University of King’s College journalism program and he’s joining us as an editorial intern for the month. He’s jumped right in—pitching ideas, researching stories and beating editors Daniel Campbell and Herb Mathisen in an improvised 1-on-1-on-1 pond hockey game.

This is Frank’s first trip North of 60 and he’s already appreciating the small stuff like the noon-hour domination at the pond hockey rink and the laidback pace of life up here (“You never have to wait for an elevator in Yellowknife”).

If you see Frank around town, make sure to stop him and say ‘Hi.’ And also, maybe let him know if there’s an aurora storm a-brewing. He’s eagerly awaiting his first sight of the Northern Lights, but it’s day six and still no dice.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from? What do you like to do?

I’m an ocean-loving, boardgames-playing mock-Haligonian (I’m from a small town east of Ottawa).

Of all the places in Canada to choose to do an internship, why Yellowknife?

The idea of coming North is very new. What stuck with me is how the magazine shows many positives of the North. Preaching and beating the problems drum gets redundant and your words fall on deaf ears. By talking about issues, offering alternatives and highlighting some of the good, then people will listen.

What was the furthest North you'd been before you landed here?

I think in the Gaspésie region of Québec. And that was almost ten years ago. Yellowknife is easily the farthest west and north I've been.

What were your first impressions of this place? Were there any preconceptions you had about the North that were immediately dismissed when you got here?

Yellowknife wasn’t really bigger than I thought, but it was different. I can’t explain how. At the same time, I almost didn’t want to believe it was so built up. You know, we laugh at other countries who think all Canadians live in igloos and ride moose around, but in all honesty I think there’s a little bit of that even from the Canadian south.

What types of stories are you hoping to cover?

My favourite pieces are profiles. I really think it’s an honour when you meet someone and they offer you their story. It really isn’t just telling; it’s an intimate offering when someone opens up and allows you to look into their life.

Isn't it rad that we get to play pond hockey during lunch every day?

It is truly amazing. I can’t remember the last time I played pond hockey. Although the skates I’ve borrowed are too small, and my stick is too short, it is so worth it!!