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Nunavut’s potential showcased at annual gathering


The annual Nunavut Tradeshow and Conference was held this year from September 19 to 21 in Iqaluit with information sessions taking place between the Frobisher Inn and the Arctic Winter Games Arena, which also housed the Tradeshow exhibitors. Organized by the Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce, it focussed on promoting economic development with a positive outcome for Nunavummiut.

Conference topics included: investing in Nunavut’s infrastructure, the need for better and faster broadband, funding sources to help support business growth, language revitalization, housing, procurement processes for government contracts, mining and fishing.

With 4,000 residents of Nunavut reaching working age in the next 10 years, the time is ripe to create opportunities to meet the demand for jobs for this fast-growing youth population and build prosperity for future generations.

The new airport terminal and the development of the Grays Bay road and port project are critical, much needed infrastructure. Increased resource development and construction and cruise ship visitations will also help provide employment for the next generation.

Mining operations are crucial to the economy of Nunavut. Nunavut is in the top six per cent of mineral exploration companies in Canada. Mining companies are some of the largest employers in Nunavut. Some companies, like Baffinland, provide an apprentice program to help build a work force in Nunavut based on skills. With three operating mines in all three areas of Nunavut, there is a huge potential for growth in this sector.

Baffin Fisheries are doing their part to increase job creation in the territory by providing training and recruitment programs. They work with stake­holders to improve the sustainability of fishing operations in the Pangnirtung community. Because it is an inshore fishery, it is more labour intensive so more jobs are available. Plans are also underway to build Fisheries in Kimmirut and Clyde River.

Since 2005, Qikiqtaaluk Fisheries has spent $20 million on Fisheries and marine training to aid in expanding the economic benefits to Qikiqtani communities. In the future, they will invest in vessel ownership and modernization.

The Nunavut Fisheries Training Consortium (NFTC) provides training for the Kativik Regional Government, Search and Rescue, Makivik, sealift and mining companies, etc. and are also expanding their operations to the NWT. They partner with fishing companies for funding and for advice on the types of training needed for those who will eventually seek employment. Elisabeth Cayen, Executive Director for the NFTC, says without support from the industry, there would be no jobs. The Marine training skills also transmit to other potential jobs in the communities such as first responder vocations and cargo ship workers.

The Conference was all about building partner­ships and this included information on how other regions are currently working together to help support the Territory, such as the group present­ing from eastern Canada. With a shared coastline geographically, Labrador and Newfoundland have many similar issues as Nunavut such as Land Claims, and the mining and fishing sectors. Marilyn Butland from the St. John’s Board of Trade says there are partnerships to be made through aviation to connect people, to attract international investments and to increase trade.

Bernie MacIsaac, Assistant Deputy Minister, Department of Economic Development and Transportation, wrapped up the final session echoing the sentiments felt by many of the other speakers throughout the Conference. “Nunavut has the potential for world class cultural, tourism and resources and we need a strong economy built on a safe and effective transportation system to benefit all Nunavummiut.“

The Conference sessions were rounded out with breakfast and luncheon speakers with attendees able to sample some of the products Nunavut businesses supply, such as turbot and shrimp sponsored by Baffin Fisheries. Exhibitors and cultural artists promoted their products and services on the Tradeshow floor and the annual Nunavut Business Achievement Awards took place September 20 at the Discovery Inn.

The final evening Gala dinner at the Frobisher Inn brought the busy week of making business partnerships to a close with Silent and Live Auctions of items donated by Nunavut businesses with Victor Tootoo, BRCC President and 2017 Nunavut Trade Show Chair, acting as auctioneer; Keynote Speaker Michael Doyle presenting encouraging remarks to business owners; and entertainment by local Iqaluit band, Inuuqatigiit. Over $5000 was raised for the Arctic Children and Youth Foundation charity at the event, including matching funds.

Indeed, the theme of the Conference, “Facing the Future – Together” was realized with many individuals and organizations working together to provide a road map for businesses in Nunavut to continue to grow and prosper in Nunavut’s emerging economy.