Manitoba Daily

Monday, December 6, 2021

Manitoba business organizations are looking to expand their trade links with Nunavut

Key takeaways:

  • Businesses are looking to the north to expand their trade and economic opportunities.
  • Because there is no road link, Manitoba-based companies such as Calm Air are heavily relied upon to keep people and commodities flowing. 

Business organizations are looking to the north to expand trade and economic prospects.

A conversation about Nunavut was conducted Thursday at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, which is also home to the new Qaumajuq Inuit art center.

The area already has ties to Manitoba, and some believe there is room for expansion, particularly in Kivalliq’s southernmost portion.

“It goes way back,” said Patrick Tagoona, head of the Kivalliq Chamber of Commerce in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, of the relationship with Manitoba, “whether it’s for medical visits or with the Churchill port for moving commodities to the region.”

Also read: On Thursday, Manitoba reported 183 fresh COVID-19 cases and 5 deaths

Some freight arrives in the Kivalliq region via plane or rail from Manitoba and then ship from the Port of Churchill to Nunavut.

Derrick Webster is well-versed in this relationship. He is the chief operating officer of the EPLS Group of Companies, situated in Arviat, Nunavut, which provides a variety of goods and services to the territory, including food, clothing, and building supplies.

“The government and the people up there are supportive of those who are there to give rather than receive, and that’s the approach, and they’re quite quick to recognize that,” Webster said.

During a discussion hosted by the World Trade Centre Winnipeg, Manitoba Chambers of Commerce, and Manitoba Business Council on Thursday, he shared his thoughts on strengthening commercial partnerships with Nunavut.

Jon Reyes, Manitoba’s Minister of Economic Development and Jobs, informed the audience that Manitoba and Nunavut have cooperated in economic development, commerce, and energy for more than a decade.

“Today’s gathering allows strengthening and deepening this partnership, as well as to unleash the potential of our economies for higher jobs and long-term prosperity,” said Reyes.

Manitoba business groups look to expand trade partnerships with Nunavut

The mayors of Thompson and Churchill, both in northern Manitoba, see the benefits of strengthening the trading link with Nunavut.

“The possibilities are boundless,” said Thompson Mayor Colleen Smook. “With the rail, we already have a supply network that transports a lot of the materials up there.”

According to Mayor Mike Spence, reinvestments in the rail line to Churchill will help preserve it a vital element of the commercial route between Manitoba and Nunavut.

“We’re linked,” Spence explained. “It’s an issue of infrastructure improvement, which we’re doing.”

Because there is no road link, Manitoba-based companies such as Calm Air are heavily relied upon to keep people and commodities flowing. Still, it is costly, according to CEO Gary Bell, because goods only travel one way and planes return empty.

To help lower expenses, he said the corporation would like to bring back more northern-produced goods.

“The price of that would be incredibly enticing because we can now cut the price of all items going in both ways,” Bell told WAG participants.

There is support for increasing relationships, according to Tagoona.

“Right now, in our region, we have two active mines,” he stated. “Right now, that’s huge in terms of job prospects and product provision.”

Tagoona also mentioned how essential new companies are to the region’s people since they provide opportunities and respect their values.

Source: CTV News

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