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Kitikmeot Trade Show a platform for new and veteran businesses, a cultural gala and a gateway for youth

A few hundred delegates poured into the Kiilinik High School gym Feb. 10-12 to talk business and to celebrate local culture at the 21st Kitikmeot Trade Show.

Staffing the Qillaq Innovations booth at the Kitikmeot Trade Show in Cambridge Bay are, from left, office manager Kati Gillis, fuel manager Ryan Gillis and operations manager Dana Langille. Navalik Tologanak/NNSL photo

Among them was veteran trade show attendee Fred Pedersen, who noticed some new faces and new ventures among the exhibitors.

“This tells me that more and more businesses are looking to do more business in and around the Kitikmeot region, which must mean that our economy is growing,” said Pedersen, the Kitikmeot Inuit Association’s acting executive director and director of planning and communications. “Each trade show sees some new partnership formed, or a new business starting up.”

Ikuutak Earthworks and Solutions, owned by Lawrence Otokiak, made its debut at the trade show. The enterprise offers drilling, blasting and camps and catering in partnership with Northtech Drilling based in Yellowknife. Otokiak said he was eager to get out on the trade show floor and introduce himself and his company to the crowd.

“The camarderie with everybody being there, everybody was great. It was a very good venue,” he said.

The event helps outsiders gain familiarity with the way of life in the region, according to Pedersen.

“Visitors to the community for the trade show get to experience our cultural performers, and the community gets to experience live music from musicians or bands that they may never get to see,” he stated. “On the flip side of that, those musicians or bands get to experience our community and culture first hand, thus learning more about this great region of Nunavut that we live in.”

Local youth also benefit from the exposure to potential future employers, Pedersen noted.

“It gives them a look into what they might want to pursue after graduation from high school,” he said. “It may lead them to pursue higher education to get where they want to go or to give them ideas for potential new businesses that they could start in their home communities.”

Jeannie Qiyuapik, left, and Ashley Evalik engage with Canadian North senior sales manager Valerie Vrisk and Todd Chahley, director of cargo product and business development for the airline during the annual Kitikmeot Trade Show in Cambridge Bay. Navalik Tologanak/NNSL photo

For Valter Botelho-Resendes it was his first time attending the Kitikmeot Trade Show. He said there were informative presentations from the federal and territorial governments outlining ways they can assist the business community. Representatives from Canadian North and NEAS talked about how they’re enhancing their services but there was no discussion of the airline merger and its implications or how sealift rates are expected to rise this year, he said.

He credited the Hamlet of Cambridge for creating a buzz with its plans for a tiny home subdivision and an arts studio.

“There definitely some good approaches that are being taken,” he said.

Botelho-Resendes, who became executive director of the Kitikmeot Chamber of Commerce last year and joined the trade show organizing committee, said he didn’t hear any mention of the fate of TMAC Resources’ gold mine at Hope Bay, which is for sale or may become a joint venture with a financing partner. However, he expects that topic will arise during a joint meeting between the Chamber and the KIA at the end of the month.

One of the highlights for search and rescue volunteers across the Kitikmeot was the $33,400 raised through a silent auction. That money will be divided among their operations in the region.

The limitations of local infrastructure became apparent once again this year, however. Johnny Reid’s free public concert attracted an overflow crowd at the community hall on Sunday and not everyone could get in, which resulted in some disappointment, Botelho-Resendes acknowledged.

“Once we hit max capacity, for safety reasons, we had to shut the doors,” he said.

Otherwise, he was pleased with the outcome of the three days.

“Overall I think the entire event went pretty well,” he said.