Northern Perspectives Conference 2019 — notes, quotes and connections

Feb 14, 2019

Source: Churchill Wild


Talent, imagination and the entrepreneurial spirit of the north was on display from February 6-9, 2019 at the Northern Perspectives Conference held at the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG), and Churchill Wild was happy to attend.

A large delegation of business leaders, elected officials, artists and designers from Nunavut made their way to Winnipeg for the conference, which showcased all that is Nunavut while focusing on economic and partnership opportunities with Manitoba.

This was the second edition of the Northern Perspectives Conference, which brought together over 200 delegates in Winnipeg in 2017. The inaugural conference featured a broad representation of the Nunavut business community, including the private sector, Inuit organisations, community leaders, the economic development community, and the Territorial government.

In addition to those groups, the 2019 conference welcomed The Honourable Joe Savikataaq, Premier of Nunavut, Murad Al-Katib, CEO of the Arctic Gateway Group (new owners of the Churchill port and rail line), the Honourable Blaine Pedersen, Manitoba’s Minister of Growth, Enterprise and Trade, along with a number of artists, seamstresses and designers from Nunavut.

The World Trade Centre Winnipeg (WTC) played an important part in helping put together the business-to-business component of the conference and in promoting it to the local business community. This is part of a partnership effort, with the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce, the Town of Churchill, and the Churchill Region Economic Development Fund, which also brought businesses from the Churchill region to Winnipeg for the conference.

“Manitoba enjoys a special relationship with Nunavut, and with the Kivalliq region in particular,” said Derek Earl, Vice-President of the WTC Winnipeg. “There are a lot of business opportunities to explore, from supporting resource development, to renewable energy, to food security, to shipping through Churchill. This conference is a great opportunity to build on these relationships, facilitate new opportunities, and welcome a large cross section of the business and government community from Nunavut to Winnipeg, all set against the backdrop of the Inuit Art Centre at the WAG.”

The business and trade relationships between Manitoba and Nunavut have been in a general state of decline in recent years, in no small part due to uncertainties and challenges related to the Churchill rail and port. Meanwhile, competition has notably increased in key areas such as shipping and logistics, coming largely from eastern Canadian ports. This has affected businesses in Manitoba, and more specifically, the Churchill region.

The regional ties and affinities between Manitoba and Nunavut, especially with Kivalliq, remain strong, and significant economic and resource development is underway in Nunavut, which is generating new potential. With a new ownership group in place for the rail line and port, and a strong, positive vision for the future, the time is right for Manitoba to begin the process of rebuilding important economic relationships and re-establishing Churchill as the Gateway to the Arctic.

Quotes from Attendees and Exhibitors

Below are some quotes from attendees and exhibitors at the conference, along with links to websites and emails where available. If you see someone from Nunavut or Manitoba you would like to explore business opportunities with, please use the links to get the relationship started!

Patrick Tagoona, President, Kivalliq Chamber of Commerce and Nunavut Investments Ltd.

“Our mandate is to provide quality goods and services in Nunavut, particularly in the Kivalliq region. As president of the chamber and also as an entrepreneur, this is about opening up opportunities for business between Manitoba and the Kivalliq region. It’s a business and cultural event but Manitoba has businesses and services that we need in Kivalliq.

“Our companies provide modular housing and services to the mining sector, oils and lubricants to the Qulliq Energy Corporation, and also provide dust control products. We’re open to all kinds of business opportunities with Kivalliq and with Manitoba goods and services companies. We’re looking for mutually beneficial opportunities. In our region alone we’re going to have two gold operating mines. In terms of shipment of goods, when they got the rail going in Churchill it benefited Churchill and Manitoba, but also Kivalliq. It’s good for business, but it’s more than that. We still have a reliance on the south for shipping, goods, food, everything. I own companies that provide engineering and environmental consulting and construction.

“I’m also a distributor Nemco Lubricants and Cypher Environmental. We’re here to have discussions with other businesses. I met with a company that can provide services to our region. It’s definitely worth coming down for and Winnipeg is only a two-hour flight from Rankin Inlet. The Kivalliq Chamber of Commerce is in its 40th year. There are a number of businesses that have been there for 20 years. Nunavut is under-served right now. There are a lot of opportunities, hundreds of millions of dollars worth of opportunities. It’s beautiful and it’s home.” ~ Patrick Tagoona

Victor Tootoo, President, Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce and Northern Allied Nunavut Travel Inc.

“I have a number of different business. Northern Allied Nunavut Travel Inc. offers corporate travel services to businesses in Nunavut. If you’re sending people to Nunavut and dealing with a southern travel agency, you can relate to the fact that we have a good niche market. Travelling in Nunavut is very different than traveling in the rest of Canada, from routing to airlines and hotels to links you can click on. That’s what we do.

“I’m also president of NVision Insight Group Inc., an indigenous consulting company that empowers indigenous communities. NVision facilitated the sessions for this conference and for the Northern Lights Business and Cultural Showcase in Ottawa next year. I also have a fuel distribution company, AV Nunavut Fuels Inc. and we supply fuel to every community in Nunavut. We can ship to anywhere in the Arctic and we have additional experience through our partner Woodward’s Oil Limited.

“We also have some smaller businesses and properties including Green Acres Nunavut in Iqaluit, close to the new airport, and I’m looking to develop that property. We’re also looking for potential opportunities to work together with other companies. It’s at events like this where I started most of my partnerships, so I’m really happy that we’re able to have this conference and to see so many interested people here.” ~ Victor Tootoo

Mary-Lee Sandy-Aliyak, Recruiting Consultant, Government of Nunavut

“I work with all four regions in Nunavut, 25 communities, 13 departments, and five Crown Corporations, to help advertise their jobs in Nunavut. All of our jobs are on one site, from trades, teaching, social working, nursing, offices workers, financial officers, environmental specialists, airport workers and more. If people want to serve our government we’ll welcome them with open arms, especially if you want to mentor and teach Inuit on the job. We have 5,000 positions, and about 40 percent are vacant right now. New positions come out every Friday. Big areas include the environment, science and technology, teachers, health workers, nurses, doctors, IT, research, finance, accounting and auditing.

“The Arctic is the most exciting, exotic place in Canada, and its got a culture that is so strong, different and interesting. You can learn so much about land, animals and fresh air. And being 5-10 minutes away from your workplace and home, you can balance your family life and your work life in any community in Nunavut. And you know everybody in your community. If you really want to experience it, try something new, and explore Canada’s Arctic, try a position up here. Learn something new about Canada. Submit you resume, apply to as many positions as you want. Why not try it out? As soon as you arrive you’ll feel the fresh air, there’s no pollution, and you’ll feel the freedom. It’s a place where you can thrive.” ~ Mary-Lee Sandy-Aliyak

Merlyn Recinos, Economic Development Officer, Municipality of Igloolik

“We’re here representing the Municipality of Igloolik. I’m here with a couple of artists, a master carver and a medium carver. We’re introducing an arts program and are here to look for partnerships, to make connections for our small businesses. We’re looking to partner with larger organization in the south, to make sure everyone benefits from the opportunities in the north, including northerners. We’re open to ideas and we think there is a lot of potential.

“We’re building a platform for artists to have access to the outside market. We link them straight to their customer or a venue that is going to sell on their behalf. Send me an email, ask me anything. Stage three is to develop an interactive platform and a website, where you can learn about the artist and follow along as they create a piece of art from the beginning to the end. You’ll be a part of it. It creates an attachment and relationship. It’s a lot of work but we think it’s worth it. We teach the artist what the customer wants. The amount of sales and revenue that we create for the community will overwhelm the cost.

“I moved up north at 21 and they asked me to work for them. It’s economic development for the people. Some think it’s money and growth but it’s more than that. Its a living organism, like the human body. The first thing is to make sure it’s healthy and wants to grow. Then you look at what you have available to create the economic growth. If you’re not healthy, you won’t want to work. One of things that people used to do was bring in things from the south and sell them. We kept forgetting about the language, the culture, ecotourism. We have a list of artists and we’re going to help them sell art from Nunavut, so we’ll be looking for partnerships that can help us do that.” ~ Merlyn Recinos

Colin Matychuk, Commercial Account Executive, HUB International

Leanne Willie is a consultant with HUB International, which has been providing business and personal insurance, employee benefits and risk management services in Nunavut for many years.

“HUB is an insurance broker and risk services consulting firm. We have almost two decades of experience in Nunavut so we’re quite familiar with the geography and the clientele. While we get paid for selling insurance, that’s not what we do. We help commercial clients achieve their goals by helping them understand the risks they take and what to do about them.

“We’ve seen virtually everything go wrong that can go wrong, and just when we think we’ve seen everything something new happens. So we have actually have a lot of experience with the usage of insurance products and not just on the customer side. On the risk consulting side we have 85 various risk assessment professionals, engineers, forensic accountants, breach coaches etc. We have an entire arm that can engage with an organization for specific risk assessment.”  ~ Colin Matychuk

Ed Dornn, President, Greenstone Structural Solutions

“We’re a manufacturer from Manitoba looking for opportunities to work in Nunavut. We manufacture a new wall assembly to meet and exceed the requirements of the north, where energy requirements are very high. We’re targeting a lot of new technology with regards to energy services in an effort to reduce the demand for energy by building a very air-tight envelope that has very high R values without any thermal connections at all, which is very unusual. We’ve put together a system with larger pieces we liken to LEGO blocks. It’s easy to learn, light weight and strong, and very fast to assemble without much equipment. We’re building in Rankin right now and we think it’s a very good strategy.

“Steel has always tried to make it into the (wood) residential framing side. The problem with steel is that it has a lot of thermal connections, but we’ve rotated our steel and in the middle we have all foam. It’s a panelized, composite assembly. We call it ice panels. It’s an insulated composite envelope. We create the envelope of the building only. You can put whatever you want inside and outside. We’re dealing with the structure and at the same time meeting and exceeding the new demand for energy efficiency, including net 0. This is pretty much the best insulation you can get.

“It’s a lot stronger than people realize and we can increase the density of the foam, using very hard high-density foam called geofoam, which is so strong you can drive trucks over it. We can make a hurricane proof building. It can be engineered for that. And it’s very clean, health conscious. The only problem is that it last forever.  We have a three-story building on a lake in Rankin Inlet now and another million-dollar home in Brandon, as well as a school gymnasium and a church. Four people can put up a three-story building in 30 days. It screws together. We build on site and ship it, and we can show how to put it together, how to read the drawings, using a YouTube video.” ~ Ed Dornn

Phil Spring, President, Hook N Haul 

“I’m looking to make more connections in the north, while also displaying our new small-size gasification stove, which burns very little wood. We’re making new products all the time, and we’re open to partnerships. Our products are all geared for the north and we test them on the shores of lake Winnipeg. We’re the only ones that make a small gasification stove. We do all the manufacturing in Manitoba.

“The gasification stove burns from the top down not from the bottom up like a normal stove. Once it starts to gasify, it draws from underneath and runs back around. It can be used in cabins, on the trail, on trips. We’ve priced them very reasonably at $550. They can produce up to 750 degrees on the top. You can cook on them, grill a steak. And the wood lasts much longer. My house is heated with a gasification stove, a commercial one. This is a small version that you can vent out of a tent or cabin. There’s no smoke but the exhaust has to go out. We also make a spark arrester for it. It will be on the website in a few weeks.” ~ Phil Spring

Judy Wilson, Board Member, Churchill Northern Studies Centre (CNSC)

“The Churchill Northern Studies Centre is an 84-bed facility that can host meetings and conferences. It’s a brand-new building, secure from bears. It has fantastic cafeteria and all the supports needed for meetings and conferences. We’re also gearing up our citizen science for youth programming, for work in the Arctic and subarctic.

“The CNSC also does contract research, with one of their latest projects being growing produce hydroponically in specialized containers made by The Growcer. We have been working very closely with them to develop and refine the units for the harsh temperatures in the north. We’ve produced over 10,000 units of fresh veggies for the Churchill area. It’s a game changer. We’re gearing up to help other communities looking to utilize the Growcer system.” ~ Judy Wilson

Michelle Smith, Parenty Reitmeier Translation Services

“We are a 25-year-old company and we’ve been working in Nunavut for the past 7-8 years. We understand the importance of getting the translations out on time and the importance of dialects. That’s usually the first question we ask. All of our translators live in Nunavut and we’re interested in doing business and helping promote the Inuit languages.” ~ Michelle Smith

Jill Latschislaw, Senior Manager,  Workforce Development, Community initiatives, Manitoba Institute of Trade and Technology

“We’re here looking to meet employers and community leaders who are interested in training for their employees. Especially with regards to micro-credentials and boots-on-the- ground training. If you have an initiative or a build and you need trained employees, we can do assessments and award micro-credentials.” ~ Jill Latschislaw

La Vona Parker. Procurement Specialist. Office of Small and Medium Enterprises, Western Region. Helping small and medium-size businesses sell to the Government of Canada.

Jenni Morin, and

“We offer revenue generating solutions for growth driven companies. We partner with Chambers of Commerce and allow them to provide valuable tools and software to their members for free, with optional software services. We also do a revenue share back to the Chambers of Commerce. XP3 is an industrial strength commercial-grade fuel enhancer that has been adopted as a best-practice by several multi-national companies around the world.” ~ Jenni Morin

Corrine Stewart, Airport Manager, Thompson Airport

“We’re looking at possibly expanding our cargo facilities and getting a new terminal built, which might provide an opportunity to showcase indigenous and aboriginal artwork. We’d like to showcase all of the north including Churchill, Thompson and Nunavut. We’re also here to promote our cargo services and our very reasonable rates.” ~ Corrine Stewart

Justin Evenden, Manitoba Hydro Telecom

“We take the Manitoba Hydro fibre optic infrastructure from around the province and use it for commercial means. We help Manitoba service providers such as Broadband Communications North and CommStream. We use the Manitoba Hydro fibre optic network to connect them back to Winnipeg and enable them to distribute the service in the communities that they work in. We go as far north as Gillam on the east side of Manitoba and Flin Flon on the west side. We’re looking for opportunities to take our fibre further north, and we’re trying to get a better understanding of the northern communications infrastructure.” ~ Justin Evenden

Oswald Sawh, CEO, Communities Economic Development Fund

“We’re the lead agency for Manitoba’s Look North strategy, we partner with the province to provide one window for programming for economic development. Our main mandate is to increase economic development in the north. We’re looking to learn about options that can help our businesses in the north expand and grow. We’re talking to a lot of northern entrepreneurs about all the opportunities up north and we love hearing about all the different stories and businesses.” ~ Oswald Sawh

David Lancup, Director, Mining and Metals, Norda Stelo

“We’re an engineering firm based in Quebec. We also have offices in in BC. We’re interested in Nunavut and partnering to see if there is potential to open a satellite office in Rankin Inlet. We’re quite curious to learn about all the activity taking place. We offer engineering services related to environmental projects, buildings, rail, ports and other construction. If you need hanger for your planes, we can help with you with the engineering.” ~ David Lancup

Shaun Lester, Lester Landau Professional Chartered Accountants

“We’re Nunavut’s leading chartered accounting firm and we do auditing and accounting throughout Nunavut. We are the auditor of the Baffin Chamber of Commerce (BRCC) and the treasurer of Kivalliq Chamber of Commerce and also Nunavut’s representative on the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.” ~ Shaun Lester

Angus McKinnon, Manager, Business Development at Arctic Co-operatives Ltd.

“We are the support office for 32 co-ops throughout Nunavut, Northwest Territories and the Yukon. We’re owned by the people of the north and we get along great with the people in the south. If you need a place to stay we have 22 hotels and we also do procurement and transportation, to help get goods into the north.” ~ Angus McKinnon

Gabby Morrill, Manager of Government Relations and Community Engagement, NorthwesTel

“We’re one of the leading telecommunications companies in Nunavut. We’re looking for partnerships. Whether you want to build a multi-million dollar fibre optic installation or spend $500 to sponsor a sports team, we can help you.” ~ Gabby Morrill

Stefan Paszlack, Senior Commercial Account Manager, First Nations Bank of Canada

“We have a branch in Iqaluit and we recently opened another in Pangnirtung, and hope to open more branches in Nunavut. If you need commercial financing, I’m your guy for operating lines of credit, commercial mortgages, project financing. We’d love to share with you what we have to offer.” ~ Stefan Paszlack

Candace Ramcharan, General Supervisor, Community Relations Nunavut at Agnico Eagle Mines Limited

“We have one mine in Meadowbank, with a second to open soon in Meliadine outside of Rankin Inlet. We also have the Whale Tail Pit project, an extension of Meadowbank, coming online this year. Our operations are major catalysts for economic development and we hope to help promote and build a strong and diverse economy in Kivalliq region.”

Alain Lefebvre, Chief Operating Officer, Great White North Technology Consulting Inc.

“We are a Metis managed IT services provider in Timmins, Ontario. We act as an outsourced IT department for all types and sizes of organizations and specialize in northern and remote communities. We are very aware of the challenges, especially with regards to infrastructure and weather. We are currently working with clients in Igloolik and Rankin Inlet and are looking to form more partnerships.” ~ Alain Lefebvre

Anthony Mercredi-Tootoo, Vice President, Kivalliq Chamber of Commerce, Owner, Top Notch Services

“I have a construction business that does remediation and janitorial cleaning. There’s always room for expansion and partnerships. There’s definitely room to partner for a railway, a highway, fibre optic cable. I’m trying to do work for the housing corporation and maintenance to help them get some of their units updated.” ~ Anthony Mercredi-Tootoo

Evan Schellenberg, Project Manager, Fresh Projects Builders

“We’re based out of Winnipeg and we do a lot of First Nations projects in northern Manitoba. We want to expand into Nunavut. We’re looking forward to experiencing Nunavut, seeing what the needs are, and seeing how we can fit in and help out. We’ve met some fantastic contacts here. We’re going up to Nunavut for a week after the conference and in March we’re going to check out Rankin Inlet. We do industrial, commercial and institutional projects, large housing projects, schools, hospitals, health centres and large commercial facilities.” ~ Evan Schellenberg

Shelley Burke, NVision Insight Group Inc.

“We’re moderating the conference sessions and making notes for the Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce, so that they can have a sense of what people are asking for. NVision has been doing management consulting for 25 years. We’re an indigenous consulting firm based in Ottawa and Iqaluit. We do planning, policy development, economic development strategies. We started with four people and predated Nunavut and have been instrumental in a number of projects since that time. It’s a way of making connections with the Kivalliq regions and Manitoba. We have coverage right across Manitoba.” ~ Shelley Burke

Derek Earl, Vice President, World Trade Centre Winnipeg

“We provide support for Manitoba companies looking to grow and expand. To anyone in Nunavut who is interested in partnerships on the Manitoba side. If you need to get introduced to a company or are interested in a certain sector, we can be a great point of contact for you and help you make the connections. It’s really exciting to hear about everything everyone is working on.” ~ Derek Earl

Paula Ikuutaq Rumbolt and Emma Kreuger of Hinaani Design. Hinaani designs clothing and accessories that promote Inuit culture, language, and lifestyle to foster positive self-esteem and pride in Inuit.

Honourable Mentions: We weren’t able to get the quotes we needed in time from Rhoda de Meulles, the owner of Home Hardware Home Building Centre in Churchill, or Alfred Lea, President of the Native Canadian Chip Corporation. Rhoda has helped see Churchill through some tough times over the past few years and is great to do business with in Churchill. Alfred makes delicious potato chips that you absolutely have to try!

So many good connections here, we hope you make some too!