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Ottawa focuses on Eastern Arctic
Northern Lights Summit 2014 showcases the North in national capital

Sophie Desrosiers
Special to Northern News Services
Published Saturday, February 1, 2014

The nation’s capital was alive with Arctic pride once again as the Northern Lights trade show and conference took over the Ottawa Convention Centre in the centre of the city's downtown.

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Nunavut Premier Peter Taptuna addresses a packed luncheon in the Ottawa Convention Centre on Jan. 30 as part of the 2014 Northern Lights conference. Taptuna said the networking that took place at the four-day event will result in business relationships for years to come. - Sophie Desrosiers/NNSL photo

The biannual event, held from Jan 29 to Feb 1, showcased Nunavummiut business and culture for delegates from across Canada, the U.S. and Europe, according to Sterling Peyton, conference co-chair and president of the Labrador North Chamber of Commerce, which co-organized the event with the Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The event's popularity grew this year, he said, although actual numbers of delegates won't be known until after the show closing.

“Northern Lights is all about connecting people and opportunities in the North with people and opportunities in the south,” he said. “What we’ve done here is we’ve provided an event at a suitable venue where people can gather and actually talk about these types of things.”

Northern businesses are encouraged to participate by setting up booths to showcase their work to a larger market, an opportunity they might not always have at home.

“When you come into an area like this, you’re coming into a very big market, and you’re coming to a venue where there’s a lot of people,” said Peyton.

Evan Despault, technical director at Pinnguaq, a video game company with ties to Pangnirtung, said he was grateful for the opportunity to network in Ottawa.

“We’re here to show off what we’ve been working on,” he said. “We found a lot of people have ideas for their company or organization and we’re hoping to hook up with those people and come up with some partnerships.”

Despault said he believes the event is not only good for his business, but for all businesses.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to get everyone together and talking and show off what everyone’s working on and specifically make those connections where we can help each other out.”

Ed Stewart, from Gjoa Haven, attended Northern Lights to represent his community's arts initiatives. Stewart’s booth featured an array of merchandise by Nunavut-based artists. The collection included sculptures, wall hangings, hats, mittens and much more.

“A lot of people who are involved in the North will be coming to this show, so we hope to make a lot of contacts and connections with people who have an interest in the North. We figured this is a good place to make those contacts,” said Stewart. “Hopefully, we can encourage people to consider the purchase of artwork from our community.”

Nunavut Premier Peter Taptuna was the keynote guest speaker at a packed luncheon on Jan. 30 held in one of the salons at the convention centre. When highlighting the importance of the gathering, Taptuna spoke of education and businesses opportunities and growth in the communities.

“There’s networking taking place. New ideas being talked about,” Taptuna told Nunavut News/North before leaving the conference to go to observe parliament. “From previous trade shows, some new things have happened. There’s no doubt there will be new things happening in two, three, four years’ time from this networking process here.”

The trade show isn’t all work. Northern culture is shared through fashion shows and live entertainment. Iqaluit drummer and storyteller Mathew Nuqingaq was one of the featured entertainers.

“The arts and culture pavilion we have as part of our trade show is one of the very, very important pieces of our whole event, to tell you the truth,” said Peyton.

“There are a lot of people that really don’t understand how everything works in the North and they don’t really understand the wealth of information that’s available,” he said. “With Northern Lights, it’s all about connecting people.”

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