The Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce has named its 10 Business Resilience Award winners, the second year of rebranding its annual awards to reflect the challenge posed by Covid-19.
The chamber, celebrating its 75th anniversary, says its annual awards now recognize businesses that have “demonstrated their ability to quickly adapt and respond to business disruptions in the face of the global pandemic.”
Det’on Cho Management is 2021’s Resilient Large Business of the Year.
Paul Gruner, Det’on Cho’s president and chief executive, said the business had focused on protecting the wellbeing of staff over the past year.
“For a lot of our businesses – say if you look at Bouwa Whee (a catering firm) or Vital Abel, the boarding home – those operations are 24-seven. It’s not a matter of scaling up or down, we need to continue to meet the demands of our clients,” Gruner told Cabin Radio.
“Ensuring appropriate staffing levels has been challenging, and the physical and mental health of our employees. We put a lot of energy into working with staff, keeping spirits up, trying to get to the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Gruner said winning the large business award particularly resonated for him.
“What’s cool about winning this award is it’s big business and not Indigenous business,” he said. “What I mean by that is: it’s always an awesome accomplishment by an Indigenous business to be recognized by its peers not for just being an Indigenous business, but for being a peer within the business space. We’re really pleased and excited to have won the award.”
Piercings by Haylee J won the Resilient Small Business of the Year award.
Haylee J has previously described the effort required to transform her business through a series of shifting pandemic public health measures.
Her business received five nominations at this year’s awards. On her Facebook page, she said she was “super honoured” to be nominated so many times.
ArTech Engrave won the Indigenous Entrepreneurship Resiliency Award.
“We were excited to win that one,” said Jane Arychuk, whose business helps people to create a wide range of personalized and promotional products.
“The letters of support were from Indigenous artists that have used us to help them create their own products. We appreciate that we’ve been able to help other artists be successful as well as ourselves,” she told Cabin Radio.
“We have been busier than ever because people have been buying local,” Arychuk said of the past year and the impact of public health measures. “It’s helped our business to grow, really.”
At Blunt YK, Olivia Patterson concurred. The salon, which won the Resilient Women in Business Award four years after opening, has more clients than ever.
“A lot of new clientele that would normally go down south to get their hair done are coming to us and staying with us,” Patterson said.
She said this is the first award the business has won.
“It made me feel really proud. My staff is all women,” said Patterson, describing the challenge of keeping the salon open and coping with demand as pandemic restrictions changed in the fall.
“All the stylists were willing to start later or work a lot later into the evenings, work seven days a week, just so we could stagger our shifts and make sure everybody was able to be accommodated,” she said.
Weaver and Devore took home the Customer Service Award of Excellence. AnyTime Fitness was named Resilient New Business of the year, while Copperhouse Eatery and Lounge won the Innovation Award of Excellence. PH8 Beauty Boutique picked up Resilient Young Entrepreneur of the Year.
Dragon Toner Law Office won the Community Impact Award after a 2020 campaign in which the company donated to different local groups each month.
“We ran the campaign last year to celebrate our 10th anniversary by giving back to our community. That was such a rewarding experience to have gone through,” said partner Leanne Dragon.
“This is the cherry on top, to be acknowledged for having done that.
“Us getting this award for having done that, in part, also shines a light on the fact there are all these fantastic organizations out there that deserve everybody’s support, volunteer hours, and dollars.”
In a year where safe working practices faced particular scrutiny, Bella Dance Academy won the Workplace Health and Safety Award for its work in continuing to provide a safe environment for dozens of youth.
“I’m really grateful for our team,” said academy director Phoenix Smith.
“They’ve pivoted a lot and always had the health and safety of our students as a priority. To be able to switch their methods of teaching and be able to take on whole new skill sets speaks volumes about them.”
To see the full list of nominees, head to the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce website.
2021 winners in full
Resilient Small Business of The Year Award – Piercings by Haylee J
Resilient Large Business of The Year Award – Det’on Cho Management LP
Indigenous Entrepreneurship Resiliency Award – ArTech Engrave
Customer Service Award of Excellence – Weaver and Devore
Community Impact Award – Dragon Toner Law Office
Resilient New Business Award – AnyTime Fitness
Resilient Young Entrepreneur of The Year Award – PH8 Beauty Boutique
Workplace Health and Safety Award – Bella Dance Academy
Resilient Women in Business Award – Blunt YK
Innovation Award of Excellence – Copperhouse Eatery and Lounge
This article appears through a paid partnership between the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce and Cabin Radio.