In June, as part of its Canadian Business Resilience Network campaign, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, through the generosity of Salesforce (NYSE:CRM), gave 62 small Canadian businesses from coast to coast to coast $10,000 grants to help their recovery efforts during these unprecedented times. Since then, grant recipients have been able to use the grant money to make changes that will help their business stay afloat amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Here is the story of Inukpak Outfitting from Iqaluit, Nunavut.
“This money was unexpected, and is provoking a similar feeling as getting a gift at five years old two weeks before your actual birthday,” said owner Louis-Philip Pothier.
Inukpak Outfitting offers a wide range of guided services such as snowmobiling snow sailing, hiking, canoeing, sea kayaking and more.
“It is without a doubt that the recent situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has and will continue to have a devastating effect on the financial health of Inukpak Outfitting,” continued Pothier. “It has been recognised by all officials that the tourism industry has already been heavily affected and that it may take years to fully recover and get back to its normal.”
As Inukpak Outfitting is a business that receives the bulk of its revenue from tourists, a recovery plan was put in place to ensure that operations could be maintained in a new way. Inukpak Outfitting has been able to use the CBRN grant to increase its local visibility to attract more Iqaluit residents to the business.
“If Inukpak Outfitting has to slow down operations or stop its services, the community of Iqaluit has a lot to lose,” shared Pothier. “Local residents not only use our services during their free time but a large part of our services go toward corporate VIPs. When governments (municipal, territorial or federal) has visiting officials, when private companies have consultants from the south visiting, when anyone wants to impress, share the culture and showcase Nunavut’s beautiful lands, Inukpak Outfitting has been known as the go-to place.”
Inukpak Outfitting has been looking beyond the present and ensuring that its business continues to flourish during these new circumstances. Sea kayaking is one of its services that is popular among local residents. With the grant, Inukpak Outfitting has decided to add extra kayaks to its fleet for the summer of 2021 allowing for more participants per trip, ultimately resulting in additional revenue that was lost this summer.
“The last few years have shown that our kayaking was on the rise and that often larger groups have been turned away due to a lack of kayak availability,” explained Pothier. “This is why we had planned to only do the purchase closer to next season. Also, by waiting until next spring, we will be able to include, at no cost, these new kayaks in our container shipment instead of shipping by plane at a high cost.”
To make up for lost revenue, Inukpak Outfitting has also used the CBRN grant to increase its hiking capacity.
“All our hiking expeditions have been cancelled this summer. We are now planning our 2021 summer and new additional gear will be needed,” said Pothier.
With the help of the CBRN grant, Inukpak has been able to keep its doors open ultimately aiding the local economy.
“Continuing to operate means catering services, equipment maintenance and garage fees, hotel bookings, restaurants, art purchases, bus rentals and more,” described Pothier. “All local companies, service providers and artists benefit from involvement in the local tourism industry. Supporting our operations also represents new money in smaller communities, as some of Inukpak’s services are happening in Kimmirut, Pangnirtung and Qiqiktarjuaq. Every time our guides visit the community with our guests, we inject money into their local tourism economy.“
As for the future, Inukpak Outfitting is gearing up to finish the summer on a positive note. This consists of prioritizing the lowering of expenses while maintaining the same quality on each of its sold services.
“Motivation to push through is not always at its best, some days are more productive at finding solutions, adapting, changing, developing new services and some days are tougher,” said Pothier. “Adapting is not a question of motivation but has become a necessity to succeed beyond COVID”
To learn more about the CBRN Small Business Relief Fund and see the full list of grant recipients, visit the Small Business Relief Fund page.