Expediting success
Baker Lake businessman capitalizes mining growth

by Jeff Colbourne
Northern News Services

NNSL (Apr 20/98) - In 1996, during the first regional mining symposium Nunavut residents were awakened to the sudden burst of mining exploration taking place in their backyards.

Two years have passed since then and many companies have come out of the woodwork to capitalize on the take-off of this industry.

Peter's Expediting of Baker Lake is one such company.

"When they talked about Nunavut being open for business I thought here's a good time to try," said Peter Tapatai, one of three partners in the company.

"I got introduced to a gentleman by the name of Gordon Stewart who owns Braden Burry Expediting in Yellowknife and we got talking and we tried to work on some ideas and from there it just went forward."

In less than two years, the once Inuit broadcasting founder and announcer has made himself and his partners, Frank Tootoo of Baker Lake and Stewart a modest but thriving business.

Tapatai said he is fortunate to have Stewart to guide him and Tootoo as his general manager.

"I feel much more positive about many things because of Frank because he's got skills too and knows a lot of people," he said. "Frank is a very, very valuable partner."

Expediting has given Tapatai the opportunity to bring much needed employment to his community.

"The community of Baker Lake is very highly unemployed. I wanted to see how I could help to offer work and stuff and make their life better. To keep them from not just looking forward to unemployment all the time but to try and raise hopes."

Utilizing different equipment including a Taraflex in winter and a Delta in summer, Tapatai and his crew haul supplies and fuel to mining exploration companies in the Keewatin.

The company also does a fair bit of local freighting and are the agent for Skyward Aviation.

"We are totally 100 per cent Inuit. I'm very, very proud of it. It's a very strong foundation," said Tapatai.

"They never say no to hard work."

Now that Tapatai has hauled his way into the mining industry he is hoping to work his way into the spin-off opportunities from the decentralization of Nunavut like with anticipated infrastructure projects.

At the Keewatin Chamber of Commerce in Baker Lake last April, Peter's Expediting was recognized for their achievements and Tapatai was named Businessman of the Year.

"I think Peter's offers a lot more than just services. I feel like we play a link between the community and the industry. To me that's a winning combination."

Tapatai offered advice to other aboriginal people thinking about starting their own business.

"If they believe in something they want to try. It's a matter of believing whether or not you can do it. The time is now."

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