The 2019 Nunavut Trade Show & Conference was all about “Celebrating Partnerships”. It was evident from the many presentations that working together and celebrating achievements is an integral part of doing business in Nunavut.

Hosted by the Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce, over 1,800 participants attended the event. Below are highlights of the Conference sessions.

Tallurutiup Imanga

Keynote speaker Olayuk Akesuk, Vice-President of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA), showed a video about the importance of beluga, seals and walrus to Inuit.

On August 1, the QIA and the Government of Canada announced interim protection for the new Tuvaijuittuq Marine Protected Area in Canada’s High Arctic Basin and an Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement (IIBA) for the Tallurutiup Imanga National Marine Conservation Area.

Investments will support the communities of Arctic Bay, Clyde River, Grise Fiord, Pond Inlet and Resolute Bay.

  • $54.8M for an Inuit Stewards Program.
  • $49.25M, over seven years for job creation in the five communities, a new collaborative governance model, fisheries development, and a feasibility assessment that includes community engagement and research for the Tuvaijuittuq.
  • $3.65M over seven years to support Inuit led research, training, monitoring, scholarships and capacity building.
  • $1.9M over seven years to support Hunters and Trappers Organizations.
  • Over $190M in infrastructure investments, including multi-use facilities and country food processing units, harbour development, and a regional training centre in Pond Inlet.

The QIA will host a community tour to the five hamlets impacted by the Tallurutiup Imanga IIBA and the Tuvaijuittuq Agreements in November. Check their website qia.ca.

Resources for business

The Resources for Business Conference Session began with a presentation from Jason Little. Little is a Professor of Marketing at Franklin Pierce University, New Hampshire. He reported on the Research Study from 2018 to “Determine Effective Marketing Communication Strategies for Businesses located in Nunavut”. The Nunavut population has grown the fastest in the last five years with 50 per cent of the population under 24 years of age. 84.2 per cent of residents are Inuit with 50 per cent of the population speaking Inuktut and 47 per cent speaking English.

The study found that of the 343 registered Inuit firms in Nunavut, 87 per cent were visible with some form of online marketing. In this digital age, websites and Facebook were the two top media channels for contacting new customers.

The study is available on the Nunavut Economic Developers Association’s (NEDA) website at nunavuteda.com/publications.

Senior Insurance Specialist Bradley Roy from RBC Insurance followed up with how these businesses can protect their investments. Roy is the only insurance planner from RBC who travels North of 60° to work with clients.

Rachel Davis, a Community Relations Officer at the Canadian Executive Service Organization (CESO), spoke about business development for small businesses. CESO is an international non-profit economic development engine whose expert volunteer advisors have worked with Nunavut businesses since 2003. They have mentored Alex Ittimangnaq, Economic Development Officer in Kugaaruk; Geoff Clark with Nunavut Qiviut in Kugluktuk; and Kylik Kisoun with Tundra North Tours in Inuvik.

Pat Powell, Career Services Senior Project Officer from the Kakivak Association reminded attendees that its organization supports businesses in the Qikiqtani with wage subsidies, training and career services, job postings, and grants and loan programs.

Entrepreneurs in Nunavut

This presentation included three entre­preneurial businesses in Nunavut whose speakers were passionate and energetic in sharing their stories.

Thor Simonsen, Creative Director for Hitmakerz encourages up and coming artists to create sustainable careers in music. He has seen how the workshops and tours have impacted young performers’ lives by helping them become empowered to create music. Hitmakerz will announce three new albums by the end of the year and into 2020.

Bernice and Justin Clarke, owners of Uasau Soap, were named the Top Aboriginal Business of the Year in 2016 and were the North Region winner for the 2019 Startup Canada Awards for the Entrepreneur Choice Award. Together they are growing their business slowly, utilizing the entire animal in their products, like Bearded Seal Oil.

Rhoda Angutimarik, CEO of Arctic Fresh, brings affordable and fresh produce to Nunavummiut. Her company was the winner of the Northern Social Enterprise of the Year at the 2019 Startup Canada Awards.

Transportation updates

Brian Penney, President and CEO of Baffinland, was Keynote Luncheon speaker on Wednesday. He noted that Mary River is one of the best iron ore deposits in the world and a low-cost producer with 100 per cent of the ore that is mined becoming product. Their shipping routes past Pond Inlet avoid key marine mammal areas. When they can use the railway to the mine instead of trucking, expenses will be reduced.

The Small Craft Harbor at Pond Inlet is 30 per cent complete with quarry operations on-going. Completion date is Fall 2020. The Government of Nunavut Economic Development and Transportation Department (GN-ED&T) will manage the harbor.

The Deep-sea Port $85M project in Iqaluit is 40 per cent complete. Workers will be needed for its continued maintenance once it is in operation, bringing economic opportunities for the Iqaluit workforce.

The Kivalliq Hydro Fibre Link will deliver renewable energy transmissions and fibreoptic broadband service to the Kivalliq. This will aid in shutting down diesel engines with a vision to connect the communities of Arviat, Baker Lake, Chesterfield Inlet, Rankin and Whale Cove with the two Agnico-Eagle Mines — Meliadine and Meadowbanks — to Manitoba. The Kivalliq Inuit Association is working with the GN-ED&T on feasibility efforts for an access road with a goal for commercial operation in 2026.

Chris Avery, President of the new Canadian North, spoke about the First Air/ Canadian North merger. As a result of the merger there will not be two airlines operating at almost the same time. Without this double infrastructure, the airline can be sustainable. The intent is to create an airline that fully services the North and is loved by the people of the North and in the future by those who will travel on the airline when tourism continues to be developed in the North. The goal is to develop a world-class leading training and development program in the world and be one of the best airlines and managed companies in the world.

Full integration of the two companies will take 18 to 24 months to create one operating certificate. Safety is paramount and delivering a customer experience with more choices, such as early morning and later departures from Ottawa to Iqaluit and same day connections to Yellowknife, Edmonton and the Kivalliq.

The goal of the pricing structure is to offer lower prices available to everyone that meets the needs of business travellers, beneficiaries, and tourism partners with advance ticket prices, seat sales and beneficiary fares. Aurora Reward Points and Aeroplan programs will continue.

Innovation and technology

Three businesses showcased their use of technology to enhance their services in Nunavut.

“If we can build capacity with our Makerspace courses, then we can have sustainability,” says Ryan Oliver, executive director of Pinnguaq Association. The not-for-profit organization incorporates STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) into unique learning applications that promote storytelling, health and wellness, culture and education. They offer internship programs and scholarships to help build employment opportunities in the technology industry.

Kirt Ejesiak, Chairman and CEO of Arctic UAV, spoke about the company’s world-class imaging services using top grade, industrial drones that work in extreme conditions. With the combined expertise of the employees who include commercial pilots, professional photographers and hunters, their work includes tourism-related projects, mapping historic sites for baseline data, work for the federal government and the Government of Nunavut and Transport Canada. They also see opportunities for work with Search and Rescue.

Mike West, Founder and CEO of Nuvujaq, doesn’t just want to bring “cloud computing” to satellite dependent communities in Canada’s Arctic but wants to improve the internet by bringing the cloud technology over the satellite by building mini data centres in small hamlets so connections are instantaneous. The system would also offer opportunities for the Earth Observation Network, remote sensing data from drones and satellites like the new LEO satellite that will be available across Nunavut in early 2021, and the Ocean Observatory.

A full moon and Northern Lights shine over the causeway where the new Deep-sea Port is being built in Iqaluit. © Michel Albert

Nunavut’s sealing industry

Darrin Nichol, President of the Nunavut Development Corporation, spoke about his vision for the potential future of the sealing industry in Nunavut. “There is a territorial market demand for country food like seal meat,” he says, remarking that it would be beneficial to invest in a seal meat processing facility in a Nunavut community. Branding for this new seal meat could be similar to the present “Nunavut Truly Wild” Arctic char brand.

Janelle Kennedy, Director of the Fisheries & Sealing Division, Department of Environment for the Government of Nunavut, began her presentation on “Rebuilding an Inuit Subsistence Economy” quoting Inuit activist Aaju Peter: “There are not many cultures who can still live off the land. … Inuit still hunt for food on the land, water and ice to bring food home to their families.” Inuit craft producers have turned their resilience into a brand and a legitimate product that can participate in the cash economy.

The Circumpolar Crafters Network, including crafters from Nunavut, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Greenland, Norway, Estonia and Scotland have joined together to learn from each other and share their culture and skills as crafters. They use traditional fur and leather from seal, reindeer, bison, fish skin, wool, Harris tweed, and rabbit. The Fisheries & Sealing Division is planning to help send people to fur harvesting workshops like this Pan-Arctic gathering so they can learn from others and bring the knowledge home to teach locals in the industry.

Mark Shelford, Manager, Certification and Market Access Program for Seals (CMAPS), from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) provided information on the CMAPS. It’s a system for tracking and certifying seal products. The DFO helps negotiate trade agreements by supporting cultural and traditional exports to places like Asia, Boston, Vancouver, Georgia, and Brussels to help grow international business through qualified connections. To obtain a CMAPS funding application, email CMAPS-PCAMP@dfo-mpo.gc.ca.

The Conference included a Tradeshow and Gala with a charity auction and entertainment by the band Buddy Pass. $17,455 was raised at the auction to go towards the Inukshuk Highschool Graduation Class, Dance Club, and Green Club; Iqaluit Tae Kwon-Do; and Skills Canada Nunavut.