Shining a Northern Light on Business
Canada's north is the new land of opportunity: mining, sovereignty, energy, transportation, infrastructure and more. That is the message of the Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Labrador North Chamber of Commerce and they are keen to help their southern counterparts to tap into it.
That is why two of Canada’s most northern Chambers of Commerce are set to hold Canada’s largest business and cultural exhibition on Canada’s north in Ottawa next year. The Northern Lights 2012 Business and Cultural Showcase will be held at the Ottawa Convention Centre from February 1-4, 2012. It will feature 140 exhibitors, attract more than 1,000 delegates and take up most of the Convention Centre’s floor space. The 2012 event is the third to be held by the Chambers of Commerce. (The previous two were held in Ottawa and Montreal in 2008 and 2010 respectively.)
Hal Timar, Executive Director of the Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce said the showcase will lay out the cultural and economic wealth of Canada’s north and eastern Arctic. The focus of the event will be on the business and culture of Nunavut, Nunavik, Labrador and Nunatsiavut.
“It is difficult sometimes due to the expense involved for business people from the south to fully tap into the economic opportunity up north, so the showcase allows the north to bring it to them instead,” explained Timar. “Many people in the south are not aware of just how much economic activity and the scope of activity that is happening up here.”
The showcase hopes to change that. It will be made up of trade exhibits, workshops and conferences on topics of interest. The exhibits will feature the full gamet of northern life from Inuit throat singing and art through to the myriad of businesses and opportunities now in the regions. Workshops, roundtable discussions and other presentations will also be organized. The conferences will focus on economic development opportunities and issues in each of the regions and feature high profile keynote speakers. Art and culture will also feature highly at the event. Timar states that approximately one in eight people in Nunavut alone are involved in the arts. “A lot of southern people’s interest and passion for the north starts with the arts and culture,” he adds. There will be a stage set aside during the showcase for non-stop cultural presentations and an area where northern artists will be able to demonstrate, display and sell their art.
The showcase will also emphasize the economic opportunities and social links between north and south and Ottawa in particular. Take flight connections, for example. There are 21 flights a week between Ottawa and Iqaluit alone. In 2009, imports to Nunavut mostly from the south, totaled $1.1 billion dollars.
“This event will offer a tremendous opportunity to organizations both northern and southern to market themselves, continue strengthening their business existing business relationships and create new partnerships.” said Timar.
Economic opportunities in the north abound. Mining activity, military investments, business opportunities, arts and crafts, communications infrastructure, transportation, housing, a marine resource industry, oil and gas and, of course, tourism are all part of the economic landscape. In the mining industry alone, there are 116 mining projects activities in Nunavut and 108 projects in Nunavik. Mining is expected to boost Nunavut’s economic output to $1.8 billion, 65% higher than in 2009 and twice the level of economic activity in 1999. The discovery of 4.2 trillion cubic feet of gas offshore of Newfoundland and Labrador is another economic boost for the north. The energy sector also boasts Labrador’s $6.2 billion Lower Churchill development, one of North America’s last hydroelectric mega-projects.
The Canadian military is also investing strongly in the Arctic. More than $1 billion in major infrastructure projects are scheduled between now and 2016. Tourism is another key pillar of the northern economy. Tourism revenues in Nunavut reached $30 million in 2009. Other economic opportunities are also emerging in telecommunications, transportation, warehousing and capital expenditures on housing construction particularly in Nunavut.
Kicking off the showcase will be keynote speaker and Canadian icon Dr. David Suzuki. Dr. Suzuki, one of the world’s best known environmentalists will speak on the opportunities and challenges related to climate change on Canada’s Arctic. The finale will consist of a black tie event on the top floor of the Convention Centre with performers from across the north and eastern Arctic. Invitees will include the Prime Minister and or the Governor General.
For more information on Northern Lights 2012 please visit www.northernlightsottawa.com.
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