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Kitikmeot entrepreneurs on the rise

Inspire Nunavut, a program that trains entrepreneurs, is complete in Cambridge Bay and Kugluktuk, but the business benefits for local youth are just beginning.

A celebration of Kugluktuk's bright young business minds was held on March 29, marking the end of the six-month Inspire Nunavut program. From left, economic development officer Bill Williams, Cheyanne Harvey, Mayor Ryan Nivingalok, Luke Ayaligak, Adrian Kudlak and Ian Taptuna.
photo courtesy of Paul Williams

Following six months of training, youth from both communities are in the process of launching ventures.

Kugluktuk's Luke Ayaligak has developed a website, Ayaligak's Arctic Arts, to promote local artwork.

"Local artists here have limited consumers in town," he said. "I'm looking to be an outlet for them to put their artwork on the internet so they get a wider viewing audience and better asking price."

He said several carvers have expressed interest in using his services.

Ayaligak hopes to take his website live in a few weeks. Eventually, he would like to move into tourism outfitting, he added.

He said Inspire Nunavut taught him business models, terminology, creating a business plan, some basic accounting, how to fill out forms and using the internet for research and marketing.

"They taught us a lot," he said. "These Inspire Nunavut guys really inspired us and opened our eyes on how I could go about doing this... it's been really helpful."

Clarissa Vandenbrink, Donna Lyall and Elijah Aitaok are on the road to becoming full-fledged entrepreneurs after completing the Inspire Nunavut program in Cambridge Bay.
photo courtesy of Donna Lyall

Fellow program participant Ian Taptuna has already lined up customers for TAPS Servicing, a janitorial company for residential and office locations. He will also clean and service water tanks during the summer.

"He's got contracts already in place. He's thrilled, the community's thrilled to see this and it's going to be a terrific option for a lot of people," said Paul Williams, Inspire Nunavut's instructor in Kugluktuk.

Adrian Kudlak is planning to start a customized clothing business called Arctic Outfits. He's aiming to "empower youth through design."

Danielle Adjun is behind Aqiattuqtuq, which will offer a range of healthy, affordable, convenient snacks and beverages for residents and visitors to Kugluktuk.

Vince Browning is developinga multi-media services enterprise known as Light in the Sky Media. Filmmaking, photo edits and advertising are among his planned services.

In Cambridge Bay, Elijah Aitaok will market his jewelry, putting to use skills he learned through the jewelry and metalwork program at Nunavut Arctic College five years ago. Aitaok, 23, has been periodically making necklaces and bracelets from copper, brass and mild steel. Karine Smith, Inspire Nunavut's director of operations, helped him come up with a new idea as well: turning spent bullets into jewelry. He's also planning to craft some charms to go along with the bracelets.

Aitaok said he's been investing time in raising the profile of his Facebook page, titled Elijah Aitaok, Jeweler.

"It's slowly gaining ground. I just need to continue to interact with my viewers and get them to show others what I can make," he said. "It's all in the marketing. It helps that you from Nunavut News is interviewing me... hopefully, through my own sheer willpower, I'll just take it on from there."

Donna Lyall is planning to push forward with a hair and nail salon called Memogana's Beauty Parlour. She figures she will open her doors between this summer and the end of the year.

"Because I'm so busy and apparently funding takes a few months," she said of the delay. "And I'm thinking of going to (enroll as) a nail technician so I can do the nails. I couldn't find anyone in the community to do nails so I might have to do go and do that myself."

In addition to her business plans, Lyall took on leadership duties when the Inspire Nunavut instructor in Cambridge Bay left unexpectedly with a few weeks remaining in the program.

Clarissa Vandenbrink will offer special events planing through Ubluriaq Occasions, which will include gift baskets.

Photographer Courtney Nakahok will put her talents with a camera to use through Hakalikitaak Images, which will also feature postcards and canvases.