Mavis Elias Adjun and her spouse Colin have not only learned to take over a business, they’re expanding on it.
Mavis worked for Webb Outfitting for years, but the late owner, Fred Webb, was eventually ready to retire. He sold the company to Mavis and Colin in 2015.
“We never ran a business in anything before,” Mavis said, adding that she had picked up plenty of insight from Fred. “I’d seen how he ran it for many years.”
Colin, who had a career as a conservation officer, left his government job and acted as a guide for Webb, so Colin too had some familiarity with the enterprise.
“We just fell right into it,” Mavis said.
They changed the name to Adjun Adventures Outfitting. Their sons helped them by taking hunters – mostly Americans – out in pursuit of muskoxen and grizzly bears. The Adjuns employ eight guides in total.
Business was admittedly “a little bit slow at first” but it gradually picked up and now the Adjuns are booking clients as long as three years in advance, according to Mavis.
With a stable foundation, she has decided to branch out into eco-tourism, which will essentially make the venture operational year-round rather than just a four-month hunting season.
She plans to guide visitors by boat and snowmobile, depending on the time of year, to show them “our beautiful land and culture.”
“The Coronation Gulf here is full of islands and places that you could show the tourists. The fishing is to die for, char fishing” she said. “In the winter we’d take them to places where people have gathered and hunted before – maybe stop and build an iglu under the Northern lights. We have our traditional foods that we share with them. That’s always a hit.”
Mavis is hopeful that the eco-tourism side of the business will be in effect within a year. Getting support from the community first will be essential, she said.
“That will be a big one,” she said.
In the planning process, she’s getting a hand from her sister in Edmonton, who’s a bookkeeper, and from EntrepreNorth, a project under Tides Canada that aids Indigenous businesses. Tides Canada is a charity “dedicated to a healthy environment, social equity, and economic prosperity.”
“It did open my eyes to see more of hands-on marketing, some business planning,” Mavis said of EntrepreNorth. “There’s lots of areas to cover in tourism.”
As well, the Canadian Executive Service Organization is providing her with a mentor.
“It will help with setting up the business,” she said, adding that her family is excited at the prospect of growth.