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NWT’s business advisory council meets for the first time

Yellowknife is seen from the air in May 2020
Yellowknife is seen from the air in May 2020. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio

The NWT’s new business advisory council, set up to the advise the territorial government during the Covid-19 pandemic, has met for the first time.

The territory had come under criticism from some regular MLAs for the length of time taken for the council to be put together and hold its first meeting.

Its creation had been announced in March but the composition was not made public until this week.

“This has taken longer than we anticipated,” industry minister Katrina Nokleby said in the legislature in late May.



The council’s 17 volunteer members were confirmed in a news release issued by its co-chairs, Jenni Bruce and Paul Gruner, on Wednesday.

They are:

Paul Gruner – Det’on Cho Management LP
Jenni Bruce – NWT Chamber of Commerce, Midwest Property Management
Kyle Wright – Norman Wells & District Chamber of Commerce, Northridge Contracting
Tim Syer – Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce, Lawson Lundell
Pat Rowe – Fort Simpson Chamber of Commerce, PR Contracting Ltd.
Linda Martin – Thebacha Chamber of Commerce, Thebacha Business Development Services
Sean Crowell – NWT Manufacturing Association, Canarctic Graphics
Denny Rodgers – Delta North Alliance, Beaufort Delta, Inuvialuit Development Corporation
Duc Trinh – NWT & Nunavut Construction Association, DT Electric
James Thorbourne – Delta North Alliance, Beaufort Delta, Gwich’in Development Corp
Sara Brown – NWT Association of Municipalities
Gary Vivian – NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines, Aurora Geoscience
Darrell Beaulieu – NWT Indigenous Leaders Economic Coalition, Denendeh Investments Inc
Harold Grinde – NWT Tourism, Gana River Outfitters
Donna Lee DeMarcke – Hay River Chamber of Commerce, Aurora Ford Hay River
Trevor Wever – Northern Air Transport Association, Air Tindi
Kevin Hodgins – NAPEG, ACEC-NT, Stantec

Nokleby said on Friday, under questioning from Yellowknife Centre MLA Julie Green in the legislature, that the council was an arm’s-length group not controlled by her department.



When the council will next meet is not clear.

The council said in a news release it would provide cabinet with “advice on how to mitigate the impacts of restrictions put in place as a result of Covid-19 and the development of an economic recovery plan.”

Bruce and Gruner wrote: “We encourage the Government of the Northwest Territories to take a balanced and inclusive approach to easing restrictions and take into consideration people’s health and the value that northern and Indigenous businesses bring to the NWT.

“The advisory council recommends strong political leadership as any reopening plan will involve taking bold and calculated risks for social and economic recovery. Our goal is to emerge stronger than when we entered the unfortunate lockdown of our businesses and borders, affecting industry.

“We are encouraged by the desire of the Government of Northwest Territories to engage the business community on a path forward.”