Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Justice delayed

Justice delayed is justice denied, but no one in Nunavut is denying anything.

Here are the three parts in my three-part feature for APTN National News, titled "Justice delayed." Part one today, I'll edit and add parts two and three as they come up.

I received unprecendented cooperation from the Justice department, and I even have a judge in there. Anyone who has ever tried to interview a judge before knows, they just don't talk to reporters all that often.

Also, the next time I suggest a three-part anything that includes two lawyers, one judge, and a civil servant, kick me square in the nuts. They answer fine, they all just answer long.

Part One: Waiting for court (after the first commercial break)

Part Two: Standing room only at jail (before the first commercial):

Part Three: Things are different here (last item of the show):

Friday, November 23, 2007


This is what Inuktitut looks like (I stole this from another northern blog, thanks Jen)
I know about 15 words for sure, and a few others I can work out. Here are a few spelled phonetically, because as you can see above, those symbols are a handful.
AH-TEE: Hurry up, let's go, go ahead
TAY-MA: Stop, knock it off
ILL-KNEE-LA: Youngest son
PAN-IC: Daughter (no kidding, panic)
CAN-YOU-WEEP-IT: Hey, how's it going?
CAN-YOU-LING-EH: I'm good, and you?
OO-LA-KOOT: Good morning
OO-NOOK-SAW-KOOT: Good afternoon
OO-NOOK-KOOT: Good evening
EEE: Yes
EEE-KEY: I'm cold
OOO-LU: a women's knife
SAH-VICK: A man's knife
TOOK-TOO: Caribou
NAN-NOCK: Polar Bear
AH-MAU-TICK: A traditional baby carrying jacket
A-MA-MOCK: How a baby eats
A-MOCK: Putting a baby in an amautiq
COY-AN-A-MEEK: Thank you
MAH-LOOCH: Marijuana
AH-KA-LUUK: I love you
EYE-TAR: This is shit
MUCK-TAHK: Whale blubber, tasty whale blubber
PEEF-FI: Dried fish, usually char, tasty char
IG-OOH-KNOCK: Walrus meat fermented in a hole in the ground
ACK-SARN-NITE: Northern Lights
KA-MICKS: Traditional footware
Keep in mind, those words change from region to region, and dialect to dialect. NAH-KO-MEEK means thank you on Baffin Island, buy COY-AN-A-MEEK works all over the territory.
The catchiest cultural bit is eyes open and eyes narrow. All you have to do to say yes is open your eyes wide, and to say no you make them small. With my eyebrows, I always feel like I'm shouting when I do that. I worked in an office with three other white folk, and one day we realized that we were all doing the eye open/shut thing. It is darn catchy.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Guardian

The Guardian is the guilty pleasure of every Ex-pat Islander, and more recently, the comments section of their website has led to the secret nasty nature of Islanders being more fully expressed.

I usually avoid commentary. Since I'm a journalist, it usually behooves me to keep my virtual mouth quiet. This case, I couldn't resist.

One of the first things they teach you in J-school, localize a national story.

Remember that scene from The Paper, with Michael Keaton (second worst Batman ever).

"Disaster here, no one from New York. Disaster there, no one from New York. "

The shooting death of Const. Doug Scott had a very tenous PEI connection. His partner in Kimmirut was a fill-in officer from PEI, so the Guardian ran a story about another officer from Charlottetown that had served in Kimmirut. For the record, he quite liked it.

In the comments page, someone wrote in with this thoughtful commentary on policing in Nunavut:

Andy from Ch'town, PEI writes: It comes down to money. And since the
territories are a federal jurisdiction, then the feds have to throw more money
for policing at the territories.

What you are suggesting in post #1 is to have a level of policing service
in Arctic Canada similar to what we have in southern Canada.... numerous police
officers within a reasonably short response time to calls for assistance.

This isn't currently the case in Nunavut and other places, so the feds
would have to practically quadruple the number of officers up there.

In addition to the obvious benefits for officer safety, this would tie in
nicely for sovereignty purposes too. After all, next to the Innu and the
Canadian Rangers, the RCMP have the 2nd biggest presence across that region.

The Canadian Forces with southern softies make their laughable snowmobile
trip every summer across the icepack but that doesn't really count, unless you
believe everything you read in the vaunted Globe & Mail of course....

quadruple RCMP in Arctic = increased officer safety + better sovereignty =
no brainer

Andy from Ch'town struck me as a bit of a know-nothing-know-it-all, leading me to write my first ever post in the comments of the Guardian website. Enjoy:

Kent Driscoll from Iqaluit, NU writes:

Post 2, here is where you are wrong.

And since the territories are a federal jurisdiction, then the feds
have to throw more money for policing at the territories.

Yes and no. Nunavut has our own government, and pays for our own RCMP
presence. Since there is no deal on devolution struck with the feds, we receive
money from the federal government. If the feds would cut a resource revenue
sharing deal with Nunavut, the minerals under 1/5th of Canada's landmass would
easily cover more RCMP, along with adequate housing, healthcare, and a host of
other challenges.

What you are suggesting in post #1 is to have a level of policing
service in Arctic Canada similar to what we have in southern Canada.... numerous
police officers within a reasonably short response time to calls for assistance.

Kimmirut has 2 officers for a population of 400, a 1 to 200 ratio. You
won't find that anywhere in southern Canada.

After all, next to the Innu and the Canadian Rangers

Inuit, not Innu.

The Canadian Forces with southern softies make their laughable
snowmobile trip

The last trip across the icepack was a group of Canadian Rangers, not
southern softies. It was far from laughable, they covered a route that hadn't
been covered in 30 years, and they did it. The navy are frequent visitors, but
you won't catch any of the southern forces on the land without Rangers.

quadruple RCMP in Arctic = increased officer safety + better
sovereignty = no brainer

A Band-aid solution. Try this formula on for size.

Cut a resource revenue
sharing deal with Nunavut = adequate social funding + a corresponding reduction
in crime = no brainer.

Sovereignty is people. Let the Inuit people here be the
sovereignty. Give them control of the resources, so they can afford to build a
Canadian presence here, instead of dumping more money into cops the people don't
really need. All of this has little to do with poor Douglas Scott, but it is
worth pointing out to a southern audience that the long term fix for Arctic
soverignty is to allow the people of Nunavut to exploit their own resource
revenue, to build a sustainable economy and society. Anything less is just a
short term answer.

You can teach an Islander to read, but you can't make them think... jerks.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

So credible looking

I love this photo, taken by a kindly military officer with my camera when I was in Resolute. Nothing says Northern street cred like autofreeze on your beard. If I wasn't such a HTML putz, I would have this as my banner.

Friday, November 2, 2007


Photo courtesy of local photography whiz and all around good guy Chris Windeyer.
The guy on the left is Jimmie Papatsie, star cameraman with many years of experience in Nunavut (well, his whole life).

He is a local legend, and the most talented shooter and editor I have ever seen.

I've been working as a reporter for two and a half years in Nunavut, and now when I show up with Jimmie, I actually get respect from people. You can hear the wheels turning in their heads, "Well, he's working with Jimmie, maybe he isn't full of shit".

Jimmie makes me look good, glad to see Chris making him look good in this photo, from a military exercise off of Kimmirut.



The Skedaddlers

My brother Brenton is in a band... as far as I can remember, he has always been in one band or another, but this one is called The Skedaddlers. This photo is one I doctored up when they were recording their last EP (maybe it was their first EP?)

Check them out through:

Or join their group on Facebook.


Tignish, ahhhhh, how I miss thee.

Tignish has a reputation for toughness even amongst people from PEI. To steal one of my brother's favourite stories:

We were walking outside of the bar in Charlottetown, and I heard a guy shout, "I'm going to punch the next son of a bitch from Tignish that I sees."

Brenton, being the social sort, asks the guy, "Where are you from."

'Tignish," roared back the angry man.

I lived "Up West" -- Western PEI is "Up West", Eastern PEI is "Down East" -- for two years, and have learned that the Tignish tough guys are usually more bark than bite. Small town for sure, but good hearted sort. That guy who wanted to fight another Tignisher, he would have probably given the guy a drive home after... he would have been driving his pick-up 140 up Route 2 drunk as hell, but he would have never left a fellow Tignisher alone in Charlottetown.

So, from today's Guardian -- it covers PEI like the dew -- the story of a Tignish Halloween. Halloween violence is a tradition in those parts.

Thrown asphalt injures RCMP officer

Object thrown at police vehicles in Tignish
The Guardian

TIGNISH — A member of the RCMP was taken to hospital for treatment of a deep cut to his head when a chunk of asphalt was thrown through the window of the police car he was in during a wild Halloween incident Wednesday night in Tignish.

Several large groups of people were responsible for throwing rocks and bottles at the police vehicles and officers throughout the night, resulting in extensive damage to three police vehicles, said Sgt. J.A. George, NCO in charge of Prince District Operations.

Thirteen young people, ranging in ages from 16 to 21, were arrested for various breaches of the peace as the West Prince detachment of the RCMP had a very busy Halloween night throughout the entire area, said George.

Police spokesperson S-Sgt. Jay McInnis said Thursday that the injured officer was treated and later released from hospital after getting a number of stitches.“He’ll be fine,” said Jay.

Police are hopeful that charges will be laid for the assault on the officer, but admit it will be a difficult investigation because the people throwing bottles, rocks and asphalt all wore dark clothing and masks.

In Tignish, police, town maintenance staff and the fire department were kept busy responding to nuisance fires and complaints of damage to town property.Police had not received any reports of rocks or bottles being thrown at other vehicles travelling in Tignish, “which leads to the conclusion that those carrying out these cowardly acts were targeting the police,” said George.

“The RCMP was disappointed in the reaction from the young people involved in these large crowds and have been in contact with the Tignish council to help identify community strategies that will help to curb these cowardly and dangerous acts in the future. Hopefully this will address an embarrassing and shameful incident for the majority of citizens of Tignish.”

Save the Baby Veal

This poster and attached story garnered me a nomination in the OCNA (Ontario Community Newspaper Association) awards. I lost to a story about apple juice.... it was a good story.

Seal of disapproval

Kent Driscoll

Iqaluit (Mar 20/06) - It took a high-profile rock star with an agenda to bring out the edge in Murray Angus.

In response to Paul and Heather McCartney's trip to Prince Edward Island - to oppose Newfoundland's annual seal harvest - Angus brought the double barrels of irony and humour to the fight.

The McCartneys used the trip to protest against the annual harvest of seals on Canada's east coast. Angus feels they are ignoring the importance of the seal to Inuit.

"There is a presumption that people make, that the southern ways are the best. People in the south need to learn some humility and show respect," said Angus, who is an instructor at Nunavut Sivuniksavut (NS) in Ottawa.

Angus emphasized that the poster was not a school project, but simply a personal one. He has received requests from Newfoundland, Greenland and the Yukon for copies.

The poster poses the question: Is killing a wild seal less humane than raising a cow in a closed pen to keep its meat tender?

Tommy Akulukjuk, an NS student, posed for the poster, and isn't shy on humour.

First, he requests that this reporter refer to him as "Sir Tommy Akulukjuk" in this story, so that he is on equal footing with Sir Paul McCartney. He also wisecracks that he would like to see "Inuitmania" spread worldwide, so that he would have as much say as the outspoken musician.

"At first, I was pretty angry. It gave me a new perspective on famous people," said Akulukjuk.

"I think humour can be a weapon for us in this. It is like racism and American comedians. They use it to say a lot."

For Angus, the inspiration for the poster comes from an incident years ago, when Brigitte Bardot made the same trip to the ice floe.

"It was an idea I had 15 years ago, and when I saw the pics of the McCartneys, I thought it was like Bardot in the 1970s. With e-mail, it doesn't take long for this kind of thing to spread," said Angus.

As for Akulukjuk, he'll be looking at the Beatles in a different light. "I think I'll listen to the John Lennon songs from now on," said Akulukjuk.

Former Nunavut commissioner Peter Irniq said the rock star may have killed the baby seal. "You know how birds abandon their eggs after humans have touched them?" Irniq said.

"It's that funny human smell. Seals are only able to find their babies from their smell, among other seals on the ice. Paul and Heather touched the seal, we all saw it on TV. The mother probably abandoned the baby seal. It's probably dead by now.

"That is why, when we are out seal hunting through the seal holes in the spring time, we sometimes put 'things,' smelly things, like gerry cans, so that when the seal sees it, it will abandon the seal hole. That way, it's easier to catch the seals."

Piano Bar at the Top of The World

Here is an article I wrote for a local paper here, about the world's most northern Steinway Piano. Enjoy:

Piano bar at the top of the world
Kent Driscoll

Monday, April 16, 2007

EUREKA WEATHER STATION - If you were lost on the land and stumbled across the Eureka Weather Station, you would think you were hallucinating.

Who would expect to find a fully-stocked lounge complete with a Second World War-era piano at 79.59 degrees North?

"It is like living in National Geographic," said Al Gaudet, who works three months on and three months off at the station.

The station has been around since the early 1950s, and with that long a history, a few heirlooms have gathered. In the lounge sits a drab, olive green piano, which has seen its share of parties.

In 1999, a pair of visitors took a closer look and found it was a Steinway. They recorded the serial numbers and contacted the Steinway Company.

The company wrote back, declaring the piano the world's most northern Steinway. It was constructed in New York City in 1948, and is known as the Victory model. From the Second World War until the end of the Korean War, this was the model that American soldiers listened to in lounges all over the world.

Gaudet suspects that it may have been a part of the Alert station, but somehow was transferred to Eureka.

"It still carries a tune, even though it has a few dead spots. That thing has seen a lot of parties, and has been roughed up pretty well. Last year, when we moved buildings, it was bumped up a little," said Gaudet.

Gaudet has been coming to Eureka for years, and has had many run-ins with the local wildlife. Problem bears are scared off with a shotgun blast, but wolves are harder to deal with, as they roam in packs.

"I had read that there has never been a recorded case of wolves attacking a human. I'm walking back here, and I look around, and I'm surrounded by 12 wolves. I said to them, 'I hope you guys have read the book,'" said Gaudet.

The wolves must have been up on their reading as they didn't touch Gaudet. Though wolves are a nuisance, polar bears can be scary.

"In the old building, the bears used to look right in the windows. They are smart too; they never come to the camp the same way twice. Last year, we had one chasing guys between buildings," said Gaudet.

Usually, a shotgun blast will frighten the bears, and only once has a problem bear been shot in the almost 60-year history of the station.

"We have to phone a lot of people before we shoot a bear," explains Gaudet.

Weather balloons leave Eureka twice a day, and atmospheric studies are conducted around the clock. If bad weather is heading for southern Canada, it usually passes through Eureka.

The station has reached -55.3 C twice - once in 1987 and once in 1979 - and their record high temperature is 20 C in 2003.

"We monitor the ice conditions, and the ice here isn't as thick as it was before," said Gaudet, the closest he will come to commenting on global warming.

Working at Eureka since 1999, Gaudet is convinced that his job isn't for everyone. "Not everybody can live in the high Arctic, I firmly believe that."

Slide shows

Two slide shows you youse guys to check on out.

I call this one the "Live and Dead animal show"


and this one is from my trip to Eureka and Resolute, courtesy of the Canadian Rangers, the only military group in Canada to elect their leaders:


Thursday, November 1, 2007


The back corner of Iqaluit is Apex, and it is beautiful out there. You may recognize it from The White Stripes video for "You Don't Know What Love Is"

I have a thing for fire 2

So I moved to Nunavut, and they like fire here too.

Shoreline Festival 1

I hooked up the Shoreline Festival guys (well, guy) with his first venue, before it moved to the beautiful Rollo Bay Fiddle Festival Grounds, at a campground that was going out of business in Western PEI.
There was a hurricane.
As you can see, Matt Mays is made out of electricity. That is good, because the artistic windmill attached to the front of the stage could have been a lightning rod.

House house

While living in rural PEI, I was able to sublet a pretty sweet place from some Americans. I called it House House (much before the popularity of the TV show House ruined the appeal of that phrase).


I have only ever posed for photos with interview subjects twice.

First one, Red Green, who signed every autograph and posed for every picture that was requested.

The second was George Chuvalo, longtime Canadian Heavyweight Champion


Elwood -- named for his black and white perma suit -- lived with me from March 1999 until August 2007. Now he lives in retirement with my parents in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Our parish priest once said, "Anyone who would bring their cat to the Arctic with him must have a good soul."

What he didn't know, I had no choice. Does that look like a face you could bargain with?

I have a thing for fire

I walked 2 miles through the woods with the Alberton Volunteer Fire Department to take these photos. I sure like fire.

The nicest photo I ever took

Setting Day on Prince Edward Island, where I lived and worked before heading to Nunavut. Setting Day is the day where all the lobster traps go out, just check out the overloaded boats at 4:30 a.m.

Welcome to Kent of the North

This is my first blog, ever. I just plan to use it to keep all of my online presence in one useable place. Over the next few days, I'll be adding pics and bits, until I catch up to modern day.

Then, I have a new cellphone with camera and video. Expect lots more.