NWT entrepreneurs compete for Arctic Future Challenge awards

Three NWT-based entrepreneurs are in the running for Arctic Future Challenge awards, a circumpolar contest for Arctic youth developing businesses or concepts.

Joel Dragon Smith, of Yellowknife, is representing Canada in the best Arctic youth business concept category, while Kylik Taylor and Charlotte Sofie Holtkamp – with Tundra North Tours in Inuvik – are competing in two categories: Arctic youth startup of the year and Arctic youth founders of the year.

In the spring of 2020, youth aged 18 to 29 from Greenland, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States were nominated in the three categories. Three national winners were selected, one in each category, and are now competing for the public’s vote to win their respective overall categories.


Neither Dragon Smith nor Taylor knows who nominated them.

“It’s interesting, for sure,” said Taylor, who owns Tundra North Tours, an Inuit tour company that aims to share authentic Arctic experiences with tourists. It has previously been recognized as a Canadian Signature Experience by Destination Canada.

“We have an opportunity here to get some mentorship, which would be really helpful because we are having to restructure due to Covid.”

Taylor had looked at entering Tundra North Tours for the challenge in the past, but always felt “like it was far-fetched for us to even apply,” saying it seemed like past winners had bigger ideas.

Dragon Smith works for his family’s business, Aurora Heat, which sells sheared beaver hand-warmers. As first reported by NNSL, he was nominated for the challenge after deciding to market Aurora Heat’s products to the global snowboarding community.


“I think a lot of it will have to do with social media. So possibly making a new Instagram, just specifically geared toward snowboarders. And then, on our website, we could also have specific landing pages that resonate with that audience,” he said of his marketing plan.

“It’s pretty exciting for me to be able to bring that to other people so they can enjoy it, hopefully as much as I do, because I think [the hand-warmers] are great.”

An awards show will take place online this fall. Winners in the three categories will each receive 25,000 Danish Kroner – around $5,200 – in addition to mentorship and partnership opportunities.