Karis Dekwant of Karis Cakes & More. Karli Zschogner/Cabin Radio
More than 270 people attended Friday’s Beaufort Delta Trade Show in Inuvik, an event designed to promote Delta-made merchandise and services.
This year’s event, held at the Midnight Sun Recreation Complex, particularly highlighted the growing contribution of Inuvik’s Innovate Centre makerspace.
“To see this take off over the last few years and creating a whole new industry in town where it just didn’t exist before, it’s just amazing to see,” said the Innovate Centre’s manager, Brian Larman.
Larman said the centre, founded in 2019 under the wing of Aurora College, has provided more than $250,000 in support to local businesses, from machinery to skills development training.
“Almost everybody here has been into the Innovate Centre or worked with somebody who’s working in the Innovate Centre,” he said. “Most of the stuff in here that was created – like the swag bags and other stuff – that was all created at Innovate as well.”
The first Beaufort Delta Trade Show was held in 2019, but the event didn’t take place during the past two years as businesses focused on getting through the pandemic.
“Even in normal times, there’s always a fear of starting up,” said Luisa Ospina, one of the trade show’s organizers. “It’s very tough to encourage growth when we’re just trying to survive.”
Ospina said organizers hope to grow the trade show’s reach beyond Inuvik in future, offering support to cover businesses’ travel costs.
The event is supported by the NWT government, Western Arctic Business Development Corporation, the Town of Inuvik, Gwich’in Tribal Council, and Inuvialuit Community Economic Development Organization.
“I think it’s cool and you get to learn about what everybody does for work,” said Nathalie Bullock as she helped at her mother’s booth, which represented the Western Arctic Youth Collective, one of 20 participating organizations.
Friday was Amanda King’s first time in public promoting the launch of her Positive Heeling dog training business.
“I find a lot of dogs get rehomed sometimes unnecessarily, for small behavioural issues,” King said. “I’d like to be able to help people with that and make a small dent in the animals that get adopted out.”
“I feel like a lot of people just need to give their dogs that chance,” she said, describing her own adopted dog’s behaviour issues. “There wasn’t any training for me to be able to enrol her, and so I’m hoping to help someone else with that too.”
Bruce Noksana and Michele Tomosino, of Tuktoyaktuk-based Noksana Mushing Tours, occupied the booth next to King.
Noksana has been mushing for most of his life. The business formed in 2018 after the completion of the all-weather highway.
“Dogs, long ago, really helped us survive,” he said. “That’s why we’re here today, because of the dogs. That’s my passion, is running dogs.”
Noksana turned up at Friday’s trade show as part of his ongoing efforts to revitalize the region’s dog-mushing community.
“I jumped at the opportunity,” he said. “The environment is really nice.”