Co-ops a threat to Inuit entrepreneurship?
I was surprised and then shocked by the recent comments in Nunavut News North from the Naujat co-op manager, John Haufmann, stating that Inuit don’t have the basic knowledge to understand how difficult it is to own or operate a business in the North.
With this continued paternalistic attitude and with the co-ops, seemingly with GN approval, expanding their operations into everything, it is little wonder private entrepreneurial opportunities for Nunavut land claims beneficiaries will continue to decline.
This will not bode well in the future for the youth of Nunavut, who may aspire to own and operate their own businesses and not simply be employees. The co-ops have been in the North for a long time, but where are the training programs and succession plans for the training and development of Inuit managers? With Nunavut celebrating it’s 13th year it is surprising we still suffer the attitudes of the 1960s in this regard.
Co-ops, having the power of their substantial profit margins from grocery and retail sales, will continue to have a strong advantage through smaller profit margins in open tenders.
Look at the list of businesses the co-op in Repulse Bay already owns or is planning to open: retail store, hotel, fuel services, property management, housing contracting, airline agents, restaurant and a convenience store. Some of these businesses were once owned and operated by locals.
If this issue is not addressed through improved implementation of Article 24, in the very near future, the co-ops will be able to undermine all local and NLC beneficiaries’ bids and proposals.
If this is the way Nunavut communities will grow, I am worried about our future generations.
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