taming the wild

Well, at least one fellow has been taken care of. Thanks to the kindness of strangers, Allen Kempel has come in from the cold. You might remember Kempel.

Well, at least one fellow has been taken care of.

Thanks to the kindness of strangers, Allen Kempel has come in from the cold.

You might remember Kempel. He’s the 51-year-old guy who came to the Yukon from Alberta with Bandit, his canine companion, in tow.

He’d hoped to live off the land, a little like Christopher McCandless, the idealist chronicled in Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild.

With government assistance, he rented a barebones cabin outside town. But he had a falling out with the cabin owners, losing his damage deposit, rent and lodging in one fell swoop.

Whitehorse’s vacancy rate is 1.7 per cent and its median rent is $750 a month. And when the Yukon statistics branch last surveyed the market in March, there was not a single bachelor apartment available in the city. A run-down room at the Chilkoot Inn starts at $900 a month.

Suffice to say, it’s tough to find an affordable place to live these days.

Kempel and the pregnant Bandit wound up huddled in a drafty school bus, much like McCandless. They kept warm by scrounging twigs and small deadfall from city greenbelts to feed the occasional meagre fire.

The bus wasn’t a great base to look for work – Kempel lacked a shower, smelled like creosote, wood smoke and puppy (Bandit gave birth to seven pups) and he had no phone or fixed address.

A 20-year-old criminal record didn’t help.

Kempel fed his dogs and himself on $335 a month from Social Services.

“My past is a little shaky and my future is definitely shaky,” he said.

But Whitehorse residents stepped up.

Amazingly generous people brought him bottles of water. And a cord of wood (the wood guy even brought a chainsaw and bucked it up for Kempel). And food and kibble. And money.

Some bought him lunch. He was offered work. And a cabin, where he has now settled down with Bandit.

“My deepest gratitude to all the kind souls who displayed such great Yukon spirit,” wrote Kempel in a letter he brought to the paper this week.

Indeed, the compassion shown this hard-luck case by so many generous residents is truly remarkable.

And because of it, Kempel’s future is brighter.

A homeless soul has a warm place to stay, a base from which to seek work and build a life.

That’s one down. Now there’s only 60, or so, to go …

The special bonus edit…

Mike Nixon should give Na-Cho Nyak Dun Chief Simon Mervyn a call.


Well, Nixon has publicly announced he supports the Yukon Party government’s position on protecting the Peel.

That’s remarkable because, so far, after exhaustive scientific study and public consultation the government has not told the public what its position on the Peel Watershed is.

But Nixon apparently knows.

Which means the Whitehorse Centre candidate has information even the chiefs of the First Nations with a stake in the Peel have been denied.

You might remember a couple of weeks back Mines Minister Patrick Rouble snubbed Mervyn and Tr’ondek Hwech’in Chief Eddie Taylor after they drove hundreds of kilometres for a scheduled meeting on the Peel.

The two aboriginal leaders were seeking clarity on the Yukon government’s position on the Peel. What they got was a ministerial assistant announcing the Big Cheese was too busy to chat.

To be clear, New Democrat Liz Hanson supports protecting 80 per cent of the Peel.

Liberal Kirk Cameron supports protecting 80 per cent of the Peel.

Nixon supports the Yukon Party government’s position.

Which is understandable – obedience, loyalty and all that.

But what is the Yukon Party government’s position on the Peel Watershed, exactly?

Mervyn wants to know.

In fact, we all do.

Just Posted

Yukon government puts $530k towards Gladue report pilot project

Three-year pilot project will train people to write Gladue reports for Indigenous offenders

Greyhound cleared to end routes in Yukon, northern B.C.

Company says ridership on nine routes has dropped 30 per cent in last five years

Yukon Quest wraps up with awards banquet

Commando and Dutch win Golden Harness Award, juicy steaks

Tagish dog owner says she surrendered, euthanized 10 dogs

Animal health unit, however, says only 8 dogs have been surrendered in 2018

No Resource Gateway construction work this season, YG says

‘We’re not as advanced as we would have liked to have been but we still are advancing’

Former Whitehorse RCMP officer gets conditional discharge for sexual assault

Judge Richard Scheider sided with the defence’s argument that conditional discharge was appropriate

Tagish dog rescue owner asks court to change dog surrender order

Shelley Cuthbert is asking for changes to an order requiring her to surrender 10 dogs per month

Dangerous offender hearing underway for former Yukon man who sexually abused 13 girls

The man pleaded guilty to sexually abusing 13 girls over seven years in the Yukon, B.C. and Ontario

Team Yukon has strong showing at Whistler Super Youth and Timber Tour

‘Anwyn absolutely destroyed the competition’

Yukon skier turns in personal best at Junior World Championships

‘It was another great international racing experience’

Most Canadians believe journalism plays critical role in democracy: poll

Survey suggests 94 per cent of Canadians feel journalism plays ‘important’ part

Yukon child care deal to fund grandparents, courses for caregivers

‘How this is completely going to look, we’re still working on’

Most Read