An Iqaluit man who set up a country food market in his community won the Businessperson of the Year award at this year's Nunavut  Business Achievement Awards.

The awards were handed out Wednesday at the 20th annual Nunavut Trade Show and Conference in Iqaluit, which ran from Sept. 27 to 29.

"I don't think I even knew they gave out that award so it's really exciting to get that kind of recognition," said Willie Hyndman. "I've got two main projects that they were recognizing, one of them is the country food market."

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Carver Wayne Puqiqnak of Gjoa Haven attended the Nunavut Trade Show as a delegate thanks to sponsorship from his hamlet. Gjoa Haven's economic development officer says more should be done to help artists participate in the conference.

Last December, and a few more times this year, Hyndman gathered tents and tables in Iqaluit and gave hunters the opportunity to sell their catch, free of charge.

The other initiative Hyndman is known for is starting up Project Sealift, a way for people to order organic food that would be otherwise difficult to find in Nunavut.

Hyndman doesn't make a profit on the country food market, but said the sealift project does make some money.

Baffinland wins Business of the Year

The Business of the Year award went to Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation, which is working to develop a major iron mine at Mary River. Rick Lefebvre, a retired First Air employee, was given the lifetime achievement award, and Cheri Kemp-Long, a supporter of small businesses in Nunavut, won the special achievement award.

The trade show is organized by the Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce to bring together businesses, southern suppliers and investors, government and the general public.

But while the event has lots of big-business representatives, there are very few small Inuit-owned operations. 

"I hope in the next trade show more artists will be involved but again cost is an issue," said Joseph Aglukkaq, economic development officer for the Hamlet of Gjoa Haven. "Maybe if the airlines can help out providing and supporting our art and Nunavut's art industry, there'd be a lot more artists here."

The costs to be part of the event -- including travel, accommodations, and registration fees -- can easily top $10,000, but there are lots of opportunities for networking.

Some delegates, such as Gjoa Haven artist Wayne Puqiqnak, were sponsored by their hamlet. Travel is expensive and he had to fly through Yellowknife and Rankin Inlet to get to the trade show in Iqaluit.

"My dad is Uriash and he does a lot of carving, too. We're both here but he is with NACA [Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association]

 and I am with the hamlet," he said.

The organizers said they are aware that cost is an issue and they're trying to make the trade show more accessible to everyone.

"This year we actually have more communities here than ever before," said Hal Timar, executive director of the Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce. "We think it's really important. This is one of the things that we think that a lot of the small businesses that are ready to take the next step should be doing to expand their markets."

Timar said people can approach their economic development officers or the chamber of commerce for assistance.