The taxis that responded to the incident that occurred Saturday evening. (Photo courtesy of Mayor Kenny Bell)

Police probe assault allegations after confrontation between cabbies, group of men

Cabbie reported being hit in face with a bottle during altercation with passenger Saturday, taxi company owner says

By David Lochead

Assault allegations are flying following a confrontation between about 15 Iqaluit taxi drivers and a group of people, including a couple passengers, Saturday evening, according to RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Pauline Melanson.

Melanson said she heard there were allegations of assault by both a group of cabbies and a group opposing the taxi drivers.

The matter is under investigation, she told Nunatsiaq News on Monday.

Caribou Tuktu Cabs owner Danny Savard said one of the company’s drivers had a bottle smashed into his face by an unruly passenger once both were outside the cab.

Savard said he was getting his information Monday from the company’s drivers and will know more by Wednesday.

Based on information from Caribou’s drivers, Savard said two men jumped in a taxi when the driver was picking up a different customer in the Four Corners area. The taxi driver then drove the two fares to their destination, a house near Hunter’s Market, Savard said.

After an argument over who was paying for the ride, the driver kicked the two people out of the car, Savard said. Once they were outside, one of them allegedly hit the driver in the face with a beer bottle as the driver was walking back to his car, according to Savard.

Just before leaving his car, the taxi driver sent a call to his fellow drivers for assistance and 15 of them showed up, Savard said. A group of people associated with the passenger then came out of the house and a group of people in a pickup truck, associated with the passenger also showed up, he added.

As well, Savard said one of the individuals from the pickup truck whipped a chain at one of the cab drivers at the scene.

Mayor Kenny Bell said he spoke with Savard and heard the same account.

Bell also said he received a video that shows someone yelling a racial slur at the drivers.

“It’s not a good sight,” Bell said.

Melanson said the RCMP received calls from both taxi drivers and members of the other group as the alleged confrontation was unfolding Saturday. Police received their first call about the incident at 5:08 p.m.

Savard said he heard it took the RCMP around 45 minutes to respond to the incident, but he added he is trying to get more details from drivers. Melanson said she did not know how long it took for RCMP officers to arrive.

In his conversation with Savard, Bell said he was told the taxi drivers at the scene got into physical altercations as a means of self-defence.

But Bell added that the conflict likely escalated because so many taxi drivers showed up at the incident.

“That’s not a good look either,” Bell said.

Savard said Caribou Tuktu Cabs is working on a policy on how many drivers should respond to an incident. He added that 15 drivers responding to this incident was more than necessary, but drivers have received an increased amount of abuse over the last year.

The main reason for a policy is to ensure other drivers can respond to an incident quickly and help fellow drivers if the RCMP cannot, he said.

If abuse towards taxi drivers continues, the drivers will stage another walkout similar to one that took place in September after cabbies said their vehicles were pelted with rocks, Savard said.

Bell said he is still gathering information, but adds that if it did take 45 minutes for the RCMP to respond, that time needs to be improved. The mayor told Nunatsiaq News he has a meeting with the RCMP on Tuesday.

Bell also said that taxis are an essential service, and he wants to prevent another walkout from occurring.

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(49) Comments:

  1. Posted by Barney kovic on

    So the cabbies are like a gang now?

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    • Posted by John K on

      I can hardly blame them.

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    • Posted by Furious on

      Cabbies need to be a gang putting up with drunk, rude, cashless people that have no clue when to stop drinking! I’m happy for them to be able to call on one another for help. Some drunks really need to be locked up when they go one a binder.

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      • Posted by Nunavutmiuta on

        Ok, this is coming from an Inuk! I was not there on Saturday, so I cannot say anything on the incident, the passengers were obviously high from alcohol, as stated, and very true we Inuit can be very raciest but not all, one thing I can truly say is that ever since Black Lives Movement started, there are lots of very rude drivers and I can vouch for lots of Inuit that are treated very Rudely. Being an Inuk, growing up on our birth place we have endured, physical, verbal abuse from southern people, remember this! Also nothing but abuse for being an Inuk, one race being a dominate society as they are/were, nothing but raciest people were in charge of our lives. Crazy eh! we were taught about RACIEST, which we Inuit have never known until the settlers came here and showed us how it should be done by there standards, and once we are able to stand up for ourselves, we are branded as the bad people, the raciest people!

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        • Posted by Not Either Or on

          Anyone who has been in Nunavut ever a short length of time will likely encounter very casual bigoted and racist attitudes from some Inuit. (“Go back where you came from,”, “We don’t want you here.”, etc.)

          This is not surprising – all populations have members who hold bigoted or racist attitudes towards others – it is part of humanity. That is in no way to deny that some Inuit are themselves victims of racist or bigoted attitudes.

          What is unusual is that I’ve never heard anyone from within the Nunavut Inuit community condemn racist and bigoted attitudes by other Inuit. What I hear is denial, minimization, and justification – like in this post. There seems to be no voices working to improve respect for diversity and other ethnic groups, which is something that I would expect from elected leaders, but it is shockingly absent.

          In sum, it is certainly possible to be a victim and victimizer at the same time, it is not an either or proposition.

          This is in contrast to the

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          • Posted by uvanga on

            You know where the airport is… thank you.

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            • Posted by John K on

              If I left then who would make all this money I bring home?

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            • Posted by Uvanga – A Perfect Example on

              Ladies and Gentlemen – I give you the unexamined attitudes the OP was discussing.

              Thank you for doing such a fine job of highlighting exactly what the OP was saying.

              Thank you for the advice, but I prefer to stay in my home – Nunavut.

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    • Posted by Threat to public safety on

      If they form a gang will they get a group discount on driving lessons? I honestly do not feel safe when I’m driving and see a cab near me. Far too many times I’ve had to slam on the brakes because they jump in front or slam their brakes on because they’re about to pass a house or just jump out in front of you at an intersection. At night it isn’t safe to be out walking with how fast they drive. Not all drivers but the abundance of bad ones give the few good ones a bad rep.

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      • Posted by nappy on

        Super. That isn’t what the article is about. It’s about an assault that took place.

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        • Posted by uvanga on

          Assault on both ends.

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          • Posted by naps on

            Sounds like the driver was hit in the face with a beer bottle. That’s the assault I’m referring to. Either way, my point was, the article is about assault, not bad driving.

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      • Posted by John K on

        I’ve had way, WAAAYYYY more issues with private drivers than I have with cabs.

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        • Posted by Northern Guy on

          Agree 100% I am not sure what the criteria are for getting drivers license here but they must be pretty low given the astounding level of ignorance and incompetence exhibited by about 90% of the drivers on the road.

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  2. Posted by uvanga on

    Bring in some busses that can service the community. Charge $5.00 per ride. We used to have bus service, this should be brought back. So the community members that do not want to use the taxi can pay to get from one area of the city to another by paying a fare. This will solve part of the problem that the taxi drivers have been saving. Anyone ever thought of starting an uber company? another solution.

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    • Posted by John K on

      Could you imagine? I wouldn’t ride that bus if you paid me … I would expect it to be like Mad Max in there.

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      • Posted by uvanga on

        there would be more than one bus, one would be like Mad Max and one would be like Driving Miss Daisy kind of thing.

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    • Posted by Northern Guy on

      We has buses and no one used them they ran empty most of the time.

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    • Posted by Nobody will take the bus on

      Taxi: Operates 24 hours a day, very cheap (should be $15 not $8), no waiting outside. Get picked up at your house dropped off at your destination.

      Bus: Limited hours, limited schedule, wait outside for long time for bus to arrive. Wait at bus stop and get dropped off at bus stop. Might still need to walk 5-10 minutes.

      The choice is obvious.

      If the taxis were to cut back their hours, say, 7am-10pm, I’m sure things would be a lot more “normal” in Iqaluit.

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      • Posted by naps on

        Maybe. This particular incident happened at 5 in the afternoon, so maybe not.

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        • Posted by uvanga on

          Obviously the city needs competition for taxis in the city, someone please open up another taxi company in Iqaluit.

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          • Posted by Naps on

            Your comment about competition in reply to my comment has absolutely nothing to do with what I was saying.

            Me: “This particular incident happened at 5 in the afternoon, so maybe not.”
            You: “Obviously the city needs competition for taxis in the city..”

            Since you brought it up though, the need for competition in the taxi industry is not for the city to fill. Also, people complained just as much when Pai-pa was around. You keep saying “someone” should do it. How about you? The need for competition also does not mean it is okay to be racist toward immigrants and people of colour and it doesn’t justify smashing a beer bottle in someone’s face.

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  3. Posted by Sled dog on

    Why is Bell interfering in a criminal investigation.

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    • Posted by Jack Napier on

      He is the Mayor.

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    • Posted by Mayor Cares on

      Why ask why?

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  4. Posted by Stand down Kenny on

    Why is the mayor getting in the middle of this? His time would be better spent, I don’t know, dealing with our now-normalized water crisis?

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  5. Posted by Anonymous on

    As the person who was the first to call the RCMP at 5:08pm and was there when they arrived, I can confirm they were on the scene by 5:16pm. So it took them less than 10 minutes to respond, not 45 minutes.

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    • Posted by Furious on

      I since found out it was only minutes before the police showed up. Whom ever reported that it was 45 minutes really needs to do their research before it goes to print.

      • Posted by John W Paul Murphy on

        But Isn’t the RCMP responsible for everything negative in Nunavut?
        Usually by idiots who have got themselves in trouble with them tho.
        Now, Harper – we could say it’s Harper’s fault.
        Sheesh people grow up before making unfounded, misinformed assertions.

  6. Posted by Furious on

    Kenny Bell needs to wake up!!! Perhaps he needs to drive a cab for a week just so he really knows what goes on with some passengers. Thank God the cab drivers can depend on each other when something like this happens. Too many people acting like they have a right to do crap like this. 45 minutes for police to show?! Stick together cabbies! Stick together!

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  7. Posted by Walkout on

    The drivers should do a walkout and make it last a week or longer so that these idiots can learn to respect cab drivers. Remember last time was only a few hours and the city was at a standstill!

    Give these racist passengers a taste of their own damn medicine and stop giving rides to unruly passengers (ban them) and let them walk miles in the -40 temperatures with their beer bottles in hand. Sickening.

    Caribou should adopt a cashless fare policy similar to uber. No credit card no ride.

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    • Posted by Abraham Tagalik on

      I’ve seen the abuse taxi drivers take. Especially if they are puatiki.

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    • Posted by John K on

      No more pick ups or drop offs at Beer and Wine Store until people start behaving.

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  8. Posted by John K on

    I wouldn’t drive a cab in this city for all of our salaries combined.

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  9. Posted by Mayor ding dong on

    Once again, wise words from the Mayor…’not a good look’ ‘…not a good sight’. These are the responses from our mayor?!! What a joke!

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  10. Posted by Concerned passenger on

    Why doesn’t the dispatch ask for location, destination and name like most places? Why doesn’t the taxi companies accept interact so passengers can can with debit or credit? Why don’t all cabs have protected barriers between themselves and the back seat? Why don’t all taxis have security cameras in all cabs?

    Our community has lost all faith in our leadership and authority figures. We need someone to show some action and make some strong decisions that will help everyone. C’mon!!

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  11. Posted by Umingmak on

    Just spent 3 weeks in Iqaluit, taking taxis daily. The drivers from Caribou were all extremely friendly & seemed like decent people. Zero complaints here. The RCMP and the justice system need to start doing their job & target crime a lot better than they’ve done.

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  12. Posted by Qaluunat Taxi on

    To everyone who always comments/commplains “there’s no Inuit taxi drivers”; well, this is exactly why.

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  13. Posted by Steve Macy on

    I say they strike. Even being an essential service… what so the bars can keep open?!? Let the bars starve then,

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  14. Posted by uvanga on

    This is what happens when a taxi company does not have competition. They are now allowed to treat their customers with disrespect to the point where there are physical fights. That’s oppression coming out as aggression. I feel really bad for the rest of the Inuit community who now have no voice about how mistreated they are by the taxi drivers because the whole white community including the mayor are rallying for them instead of offering solutions like open up a city taxi company where they are liable for the way they treat their customers.

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    • Posted by John K on

      Another can company would just be one more avenue for drunk losers to abuse drivers.

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    • Posted by selective reading on

      Are you really justifying a cab driver being hit on the head by a beer bottle? That’s your take from this – that some drunk person hopping in the car and then refusing to pay is somehow them being disrespected?

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    • Posted by Furious on

      Do you have any idea what you are saying???? It was the taxi driver that was assaulted with the bottle. And they are treating their customers badly? Omg! You and people like you (Mr.Mayor) are the bigger problem. I

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      • Posted by uvanga on

        wow.. you are really furious! Oppression coming out as agression?

    • Posted by John W Paul Murphy on

      Jeez Uvanga – give your head a shake. This happens to people of color in our southern cities as well.
      Nothing to do with competition.
      All about racist drunks picked up on the street in Iqaluit.
      You spend a lot of time misleading and misinforming

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  15. Posted by Tin Man on

    Wouldn’t it be cool if, instead of fighting, everyone starts dancing and singing, like in West Side story? Man, that would be epic!

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  16. Posted by Stop talking on

    Why is the mayor commenting on what he thinks escalated the situation? He wasn’t there and is making dangerous public statements. He needs to stop talking about things he knows nothing about.

  17. Posted by Inukmagik on

    Kenny Bell
    Start a bus service in the city or get the taxi company some debit/credit card machines

  18. Posted by Truestory on

    I miss Nanook taxi. Had lotsa inuit taxi drivers when Nanook taxi was on the road.

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