New podcast shines light on life in the Arctic

“We don’t want to be a serious political podcast, we just want to be easy to listen to”

Bernard Choquette (left), Simeonie Kisa-Knickelbein and MisterLee Cloutier-Ellsworth are the hosts of a new podcast, Smoke Break, that aims to casually talk about life in Iqaluit and the Arctic as a whole. (File photo)

By Dustin Patar

You never know what you might learn after a few minutes of casual conversation.

Be it huddled in a circle, surrounded by the faint glow of cigarettes, or congregated around the water cooler, there’s always the chance to get a new perspective on things.

That’s the idea behind Smoke Break, a new podcast based out of Iqaluit.

“When you don’t know someone, like just a random co-worker, you go for a smoke break together and you just end up learning about them,” MisterLee Cloutier-Ellsworth said about the premise.

“You just have a good conversation.”

Cloutier-Ellsworth is a rapper, and he’s joined forces with filmmaker Simeonie Kisa-Knickelbein and Bernard Choquette, who has performed as part of a comedy duo. But for the podcast, the trio simply bill themselves as three modern-day Inuit youth.

They plan to discuss a diverse range of topics — as Choquette says in the first episode, “willy nilly.”

The first episode of Smoke Break came out on Jan. 13 and while it mostly focused on introductions, a common theme throughout the conversation was identity.

Choquette, Cloutier-Ellsworth and Kisa-Knickelbein have all spent time down south and weighed in on those experiences.

“It was a double-edged sword,” said Choquette in the episode.

On one side of that sword, Choquette says he was missing half of his identity. On the other, as the token coloured family, “people wanted to be our friends.”

The group plans to add guests to future episodes, like friends, Iqaluit residents experienced in specific fields, and maybe even Mayor Kenny Bell.

“We don’t want to be a serious political podcast, we just want to be easy to listen to,” Cloutier-Ellsworth said.

So far, it’s something that their audience appreciates, according to Kisa-Knickelbein, who said he’s gotten feedback that listeners feel like they are just hanging out with the hosts.

While the podcast is casual conversations, that doesn’t mean the topics won’t veer into the serious.

Kisa-Knickelbein points out it’s a part of Inuit culture to talk about heavy things, and then laugh about it. That’s another aspect of the show the hosts say listeners have noticed.

“A lot of people have been saying that they enjoy how it’s three Inuk men … how we’re kind of being vulnerable,” Choquette said.

Since the podcast launched, the trio have picked up nearly 1,000 followers on social media, with roughly half of those signing up on the first day.

Although the idea for the podcast had been over a year in the making, it was made possible through the Nunavut Film Development Corporation’s storytelling fund.

The trio plan on releasing a new episode every Wednesday and hope to one day be able to livestream their recording sessions.

Smoke Break can be found on most major podcast platforms.

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(5) Comments:

  1. Posted by VBR on

    Congratulations guys and gal, I’ve been developing a for now solo podcast in Cambridge Bay for about a year now as well that aims on providing insights on life in the Arctic and news in the Arctic as well. While providing youth, elders and others a studio space that they too can create content of their own. So I look forward to following your podcast and maybe one day collaborating. Keep podcasting 🙂

  2. Posted by Round the bend on

    Congratulations, gang! I will tune in and check it out.

    Nunavut is definitely ready for an enhanced information ecosphere. I like the idea of a podcast that touches on political / social issues. I imagine that will not be entirely avoidable!

    Good luck all

  3. Posted by Uno on

    Housing problems and government corruption is not easy to listen about but it’s the truth. Shed lights

  4. Posted by Keep it up Nunavut on

    Good idea. People love their radio here but listening to someone talk on a phone line, then transmitted through a radio signal is hard on the ears. CBC radio in Iqaluit hasn’t come up with any new ideas in that regard and is just a mashup between local radio and the usual CBC cookiecutter programming. A half decent podcast mic goes a long long way.

  5. Posted by Got it on

    Good idea for a podcasr. Congrats!
    Side point: Misterlee, we get it. You like smoking. All your publicity pics are of you smoking, blowing smoke, taking a drag, and the title of the podcast. Enough with the smoking. It was awesome in the 70s. In 2021 it just makes it seem like you’re trying too hard and it’s a lazy way to seem interesting. From what I can tell you have talent. No need for all that.

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