For Want of a Carving

Cape Dorset (Kinngait) – Montreal via Ottawa – We woke up today to blue skies, mild weather. For the first time since we arrived, Cape Dorset looked fantastic.

It was also the day we had to go.

Last day in Dorset. Photo Eilís Quinn

First thing, we load our gear into the truck for the very last time. Cape Dorset was fascinating. Warts and all, it’s still such a special place. Filled with more than its fair share of eccentric characters, for sure, but maybe it’s that eccentricity that’s allowed art here to thrive so successfully and for so long.

While we’re waiting at the airport, I realize for the first time that I didn’t buy one piece of art. Even more surprising, I don’t really care. Bizarrely, the only regret I have about the trip to Dorset is that I didn’t buy the mutant walrus that kid tried to sell me in the grocery store on our first night.

The carving would have summed up the Cape Dorset portion of the trip just perfectly. Not quite what it seems, quirky as get-go but somehow endearing and unforgettable all the same.

We still have 40 minutes before the plane boards. Enough time to get into town and try to find him. There’s no taxis here but I see a blue collar worker in uniform walking to a pickup truck outside. I offer him money to drive me into town and help me find the kid selling the walrus. He says ‘no problem’ and acts like there’s absolutely nothing strange about my request.

We drive around Dorset looking for the kid but we can’t find him anywhere. When we get back to the airport, I try to hand him a wad of cash for both the gas and his time. But he keeps pushing it back into my hand . “Naah, this time it’s on me.”

I’m disproportionately moved. Mainly just because, besides Bill the studio manager and town’s mayor Carey Merritt, this guy driving the pick-up truck is the first person in Cape Dorset that hasn’t expected me to haemorrhage money just for being in their company.

We shake hands and he wishes me a safe trip home.

It’s a lovely note to end the trip on.

Leaving Cape Dorset. Photo Eilís Quinn

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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