Black business group leaders visit Yellowknife
A national group for Black businesses with a mandate of “no Black-owned business gets left behind” spent time in Yellowknife last weekend.
The visit of Toronto-based non-profit the Black Business and Professional Association, or BBPA, coincided with a Black History Month gala held by the NWT’s Black Advocacy Coalition.
BBPA says it works with businesses to discuss the skills and tools they need to overcome barriers like a lack of access to capital, race issues and networking.
BBPA’s board chair, Ross Cadastre, said the group came to Yellowknife to see the differences in a small community compared to larger southern towns.
“It’s important to learn the story and the journey, how people got to be in Yellowknife and how things are going here,” Cadastre said.
Frances Delsol, BBPA’s vice-president of outreach, said the group felt some business owners’ “eyes light up” when they discussed the supports available. Example initiatives listed by BBPA include a program that offers advice on marketing, staffing and tax law, and a mentorship program.
“We were at a restaurant on Saturday and as we spoke to the proprietor about what services we could offer, we saw his eyes brighten with everything we said,” said Delsol.
“For a while, he seemed dubious. He said, ‘This doesn’t come to us.’ I assured him that it’s real and what we’re doing is real, and that we can provide him with support to have his business be successful.
“There is a much greater need for the support here, in Yellowknife, than there would be in bigger cities. Don’t get me wrong, there are Black businesses across Canada that need support, but what we’ve seen in Yellowknife is that the need is a lot greater.”
Delsol says that stems from Yellowknife being a small, isolated community that may not have the same awareness about supports offered by the government and organizations like BBPA.
“We’re really looking forward to continuing our journey and our expectation is that we will be back in Yellowknife to do a temperature check,” Cadastre said.
“We’ll ensure that all the businesses know that the service is available, and continue to put the word out to ensure that we are here to support as an organization.”