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Pangnirtung gets money to develop jobs
Tapestry studio, entrepreneurial centre to share $145,000

Emily Ridlington
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, February 16, 2011

PANGNIRTUNG/PANNIQTUUQ - Like most communities in the territory, jobs are hard to come by in Pangnirtung and the options for youth to stay and get an education in their home community are slim.

NNSL photo/graphic

MP Leona Aglukkaq announced $145,375 from the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency will be going to two organizations in Pangnirtung to help residents improve their job skills and create entrepreneurial opportunities. She made the announcement in Iqaluit on Jan. 14. - Emily Ridlington/NNSL photo

"As we begin to look at the future, we need to look at where the jobs are going to come from to develop the economy of Pangnirtung and Nunavut," said Ron Mongeau, hamlet SAO.

What should help is $145,375 the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency is giving to two organizations. MP Leona Aglukkaq made the announcement at a press conference in Iqaluit on Jan. 14.

The hamlet of Pangnirtung is getting $70,375 for a feasibility study on whether to establish an entrepreneurial centre for youth while the Uqqurmiut Inuit Artist Association is getting $75,000 for tapestry workshops.

Mayor Sakiasie Sowdlooapik said an entrepreneurial centre for youth is much needed as 67 per cent of the community's population, according to the 2006 census, is under the age of 35.

"They need care and support as we have a high suicide rate," he said, adding the crime rate is lower when there are more things for youth to do in the community.

The centre, if developed and built, would focus on skill development, supporting and providing expertise to young adults looking to become entrepreneurs in the community through training, business plans, financial management and marketing.

Mongeau said the need for the centre is there but what needs to be considered is how big it should be, what should be offered and where the financial resources for it will come from.

Mongeau sees future job growth in Pangnirtung and in other communities coming from the private sector, such as mining.

"We see this centre as a training nexus and support nexus to encourage and assist in the developing of the private sector not only here but in other Nunavut communities," he said.

The money going to the Uqqurmiut Inuit Artist Association is already being put to use as the tapestry workshops are already underway. Three weavers began working in September and will continue to do so until March 31.

"They are doing extremely well," said Kyra Fisher, general manager of the Uqqurmiut Centre for Arts and Crafts.

Fisher said many of the weavers in the community have been working at their craft for 30 to 40 years and are now retiring.

"We have to have new people taking over," she said.

The training process takes several years.

Due to hard economic times, Fisher said the centre has expanded their market to Europe to try and attract buyers. They are also working on a piece for the new trades training centre in Rankin Inlet.

The centre cannot pay the weavers high wages. They work seven hours for $13 per hour.

"Because of the housing situation all the budgets have been cut and there is a need for training," Fisher said.

While she emphasized the centre was delighted to receive the funding, she does also acknowledge the reality.

"We are always looking for more."

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