The man whose name it bears was honoured by the Atuqtuarvik Corp.’s announcement of the creation of the John Hickes Business Scholarship in Rankin Inlet earlier this month.
The scholarship was created to honour Hickes for his leadership as an original and long-serving board member of the corporation.
And, it also recognizes Hickes’s life-long commitment and involvement in business as an owner, as well as his many contributions in helping to establish a stable and progressive economy in Nunavut.
The $5,000 annual scholarship will be awarded to one successful applicant who is pursuing a post-secondary education in the field of business.
In its eligibility criteria for the John Hickes Business Scholarship, Atuqtuarvik announced an applicant must be an Inuk under the Nunavut Agreement, and be enrolled in a post-secondary institution in the field of business or in a program relating to the advancement of Inuit.
The criteria also stated an applicant can only be awarded the scholarship one time, and the completed application form must be received by the deadline date of Aug. 24.
Hickes, 73, said he found out about the scholarship about two weeks ago when he received a call from Atuqtuarvik president Rod Hick to inform him of the board’s decision.
He said he spent 12 years as Atuqtuarvik’s chairman of the board, and helped to initiate investment funding for Inuit involved in business.
“I’ve been in business for 28 years in Churchill, Thompson, Goose Camp, Wager Bay and Rankin Inlet,” said Hickes.
“I was honoured and proud to have this scholarship founded in my name. It’s very important to me because we don’t give enough encouragement for young Inuit to get involved in the business side of the world.
“We have a number of programs out there that are quite good, but I still haven’t seen any genuine opportunities for young people to get involved in the business side of things.
“So, I was honoured by the scholarship and I certainly appreciate the gesture from Atuqtuarvik.”
Hickes said he would like to think part of the corporation’s decision to have a business scholarship issued in his name was validation for the work he put in while running his own businesses over the years.
He said he looks at it as primarily for the time he put in with the corporation, and also for being involved with the suggestions that were initially given to Atuqtuarvik.
“Louis Pilakapsi was one of the people who I encouraged, and he encouraged me, as well, in so far as we didn’t have enough going on in the business side of things.
“So, when the Land Claim was settled, we put aside $70 million to do investments in the Inuk world for business.
“And I’m happy to say we’re still ahead of the game and we also own 22 per cent of a First Nations business known as the First Nations Bank of Canada.
“So, to me, the work that our board and staff members have done over the years shows that, yes, we can do business in the corporate world and, yes, we can be successful in the corporate world by keeping it business and trying to keep the politics out of it.”
Hickes said Atuqtuarvik Corp.’s $70 million has obviously grown with $90 million sitting in the bank and 22 per cent ownership in the First Nations Bank of Canada at work – a fact he’s quite proud of.
He said it’s also worth noting that the corporation has always trained its staff properly and has always stayed with its clients – sometimes to the bitter end if need be.
“I can say today that we only made one bad mistake, which had business getting involved in a political arena, of sorts, which doesn’t belong there to begin with, but I can’t name that mistake because it’s still sore and sour.
“But we recovered from that and, for the most part, I think most people already know what we’ve done in business, having investments of our own right and with Inuk partners.
“My mother said you go out there and you make business. But if you can’t do business to make people happy and be successful, then don’t do it, and I still live by that.
“If you can’t do something positive and create jobs for Inuit – which is my heritage – then don’t do it!”