Quebec gives $5 million to kick-start Nunavik co-op development fund
"This will let us get on with our development, interest-free"
KANGIQSUALUJJUAQ — Nunavik’s network of co-ops got a boost Sept. 13 with the launch of the $15-million Nunavik cooperative development fund in the same community where the cooperative movement was born in 1959 with a $12,500 grant from the federal government to buy fishing equipment.
During her visit to Kangiqsualujjuaq Sept. 13, Quebec Premier Pauline Marois announced the province would contribute $5 million interest-free to the fund — the rest coming from the Kativik Regional Government ($2.5 million) , Makivik Corp.( $2.5 million) and the Fédération des coopératives du Nouveau-Québec, the Ilagisaq ($5 million over 10 years).
“Your community has shown the desire to be able to count on financial help adapted to your reality and something that will help your local economy,” Marois said. “We know [the co-operative] plays an important role in your local economy the creation of jobs.”
The fund is not actually new, because it was first created under the Quebec Liberal government’s Plan Nord in 2011. But that plan has been revised and rebranded under the Parti Québecois government as le Nord pour Tous [the North for all].
Sixty per cent of the new loan is geared towards the FCNQ’s infrastructure; the remaining 40 per cent will go to sealift funding.
Charlie Tukkiapik, FCNQ’s vice-president for Ungava, said the new development fund will give Nunavik more room to grow.
“It’s very good news for us,” Tukkiapik said. “We normally have to go to the bank [for loans] and this will let us get on with our development, interest-free.”
Tukkiapik, who is from Quaqtaq, says his community is building a new co-op store — and this fund could help make that happen.
Similarly, since 1986, the Arctic Co-operative Development Fund, for its member co-operatives in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, has provided more than $500 million to help ACL’s member co-ops expand their businesses and build new infrastructure.
The FCNQ, owned by its 14 member co-ops, considers itself the largest non-government employer in Nunavik, with more than 260 full-time and 50 seasonal employees in the region and another 120 full-time employees in Baie d’Urfé Montreal who work for retail stores, hotels, restaurants, tourism, financial services, construction projects and fuel delivery business.
Earlier this year, the FCNQ presented a total consolidated revenue statement of $216 million, producing a return of more than $9 million to its 13 member co-ops, which do more than $80 million of business.
That’s a far cry from its modest start with the first “Eskimo” co-op in George River (now known as Kangiqsualujjuaq) in April 1959. That first Arctic co-operative, based on commercial fishing and logging, was established when 20 hunters became members after they each purchased a $1 share entitling them to vote at the annual general meeting.