New Inuit development association launches, wants to keep money up North

The chair of the new Inuit Development Corporation Association wants to ensure Inuit are benefiting from Northern contracts.

'If they're going to work in our backyards, we should take control'

Patrick Gruben, chair of the Inuvialuit Development Corporation, says 'we should take control' and compete for contracts. (Elyse Skura/CBC)

A  new national Inuit association is pushing the government to ensure Indigenous companies are benefiting from the rapid development happening across the North. 

The Inuit Development Corporation Association officially launched Wednesday in Ottawa. 

It is made up of the Inuvialuit Development Corporation, ​Kitikmeot Corporation, Sakku Investments Corporation, Qikiqtaaluk Corporation, Makivik Corporation and the Nunatsiavut Group of Companies.

The new association said in a press release that the six groups have a combined revenue of $500 million annually. 

The evening's speeches emphasized how this new group can shape national policy and advocate for business opportunities.

But the first chairperson of the group has more concrete goals — including making sure Inuit development corporations never again feel too small to compete. 

"There's also some big contracts that are put out by the federal government that we had in the past that we lost to others and we didn't think that was right," said Patrick Gruben, who also chairs the Inuvialuit Development Corporation.

"The big push for this is, if they're going to work in our backyards, we should take control." 

For northerners, by northerners

It's a sentiment echoed by Duane Smith, chair of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation. He made an impromptu speech at the gathering, warning that foreign companies are poised to swoop in and pick up lucrative Canadian contracts. 

For Smith, it's long past time for northerners to claim the opportunities open to them. 

"There's a lot of services coming north to provide for us as Inuit," he said. 

"We've got roughly 300 communities across the pan-Arctic. We're all getting fuel; we're all getting groceries; we're all getting construction materials from somewhere, from somebody.

"So why can't we be the part that's providing that as well?"