They came, talked shop, celebrated local culture and kicked up their heels together. For the fifth consecutive year, the Kitikmeot Trade Show sold out as 200 delegates descended on Cambridge Bay Feb. 12 to 14. It was the 19th year for the event.
Kitikmeot Chamber of Commerce president Wilf Wilcox said the three-day trade show serves a pivotal purpose.
“It pulls everybody together that’s doing business in the region. It gives them a chance to talk, compare notes and make alliances and make things work,” said Wilcox. “I think it’s (been) a tremendous success over the years, providing us an opportunity to stay current and bring people in that are doing a lot of things in our region, and aligning people together so that good things happen on a broader basis.”
Attendees represent industry, Inuit organizations, government departments and regulatory agencies.
This year’s theme, “Right Time, Right Place, Right Now,” was inspired by the completion of the Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS), under construction since 2012. CHARS has had a huge impact on the community of 1,600 people, said Jim MacEachern, a member of the steering committee that organized the trade show.
“It stimulated a lot of growth in Cambridge Bay in infrastructure, everything from capital projects by the GN to private projects like new hotels are popping up. We had 52 housing units built just over the last year,” MacEachern explained.
This year’s edition of the trade show featured 58 exhibitor booths, the most in the event’s history. Although the number of delegates is capped at 200 due to the capacity of the community hall, that’s not necessarily a drawback, according to MacEachern.
“What that means is a lot of the organizations don’t send 10 or 15 mid-level managers, they send the actual decision-makers: it’s the business owners, the presidents, the vice-presidents,” he said. “I think that does set us apart from some of the other shows.”
The trade show helps to highlight the “friendliness of the community,” and the existing businesses and services, MacEachern said.
“It’s a good way to sell and promote Cambridge Bay,” he said. “There really are a lot of business deals that get done as well. It’s a win-win.”
SALUTE TO CITIZENS
This year’s winners of the Willy Laserich Memorial Corporate Citizen Award, announced during the trade show, are Rudi and Angela Philips, who have lived in Cambridge Bay for about 25 years.
Angela, Cambridge Bay’s postmistress, has been prominent in the fight against cancer. A survivor of the disease herself, Angela supports and counsels others diagnosed with cancer and she helped create the Women’s Walk of Hope.
Rudi, now retired, was a longtime First Air employee who “constantly went out of his way to help not just people in Cambridge Bay but across (the region), whether it was with cargo issues, family emergencies or death in the family,” MacEachern said.
“We’re really honoured to give the award to them this year,” MacEachern said of the Philips. “I’d say it’s a lifelong achievement award when it comes to them because they’ve done so much for the community and the region.”
A charity auction held during the banquet evening raised $32,000 for the Embrace Life Council to put towards suicide-prevention programs in the Kitikmeot region.
“We’re really proud of that,” MacEachern said.
Among this year’s entertainment was iconic Vancouver-based band 54-40, who rocked the community hall with a couple of evening concerts.