“Hopefully throughout the year things will start rebounding ... definitely as a chamber we obviously want to do more this coming year and moving forward,” says Patrick Tagoona, who was recently re-elected to another two-year term as president of the Kivalliq Chamber of Commerce.
photo courtesy of Patrick Tagoona

The past year has been a tumultuous one for many businesses, but the Kivalliq Chamber of Commerce will retain some familiar faces among its executive over the rebuilding phase.

Patrick Tagoona was selected to serve another two-year term as the chamber’s president during the organization’s annual general meeting in March.

Also returning are Anthony Tootoo as vice-president, Shawn Lester as secretary treasurer, Glenn McLean as past president and directors Tara Tootoo-Fotheringham, Laura Solberg and Lonny Syvret.

Only second vice-president Harry Aggark will not be back.

The Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the Kivalliq chamber’s plans and those of many of its businesses over the past 12 months.

Tagoona said that the business advocacy group was prepared to send a delegation to the Northern Perspectives trade show in Winnipeg in February but the event was postponed indefinitely.

“In 2019, that (trade show) went very well,” Tagoona recalled. “Right now we’re just kind of in a wait-and-see as to how things will proceed for this coming year.”

One of the difficulties for many Kivalliq businesses, particularly outside of Rankin Inlet, has been finding support in applying for the various emergency government funding programs, according to Tagoona.

“Not having that face-to-face opportunity, working remotely, creates challenges for sure,” he said, adding that the travel restrictions over the past year, the additional costs of quarantine requirements, time delays and the rising cost of supplies have been among the other complications that entrepreneurs have been trying to overcome.

Owner and president of Nunavut Investments in Rankin Inlet, Tagoona planned to ship up more modular homes last summer as he had done in the past, but that too was foiled by the pandemic.

Due to the increasing price of home-building materials and other logistical challenges, he said it’s unlikely that he’ll be able to follow through on that ambition again this summer.

“At the time, I think like everyone else, we didn’t know how long this (pandemic) would go on or what level it would get to,” said Tagoona, who’s also former president of the Kivalliq Inuit Association’s Sakku Investments Corporation. “It’s been a challenge for everybody, for sure.”

Regardless, he welcomes the opportunity to again take the reins of the Kivalliq chamber as he maintains optimism that conditions will eventually improve.

“We’re still in a period of some uncertainty,” he acknowledged in regards to when the Covid vaccine roll out will be completed and whether herd immunity will be achieved. “Eventually, things will open up … this thing will pass. As the saying goes, the light is at the end of the tunnel. We’ve just got to stay careful and take the appropriate measures that are required to ultimately get to that point.

“Hopefully throughout the year things will start rebounding … definitely as a chamber we obviously want to do more this coming year and moving forward.”

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