Born and raised in Grise Fiord, Nunavut, Harry Flaherty’s early years in Canada’s most northern civilian community helped develop a strong understanding of the importance of family, community and self-reliance. A citizen of Iqaluit since 1975, Flaherty first foray into public service started with the Government of the Northwest Territories in 1979, and has never ceased.
An integral component to the prosperity of the Qikiqtani Inuit is Flaherty’s leadership of the Qikiqtaaluk Corporation (QC), the Regional Inuit Birthright Development Corporation owned by the Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA)—the Regional Inuit Organization as defined by the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, representing the 14,000 Inuit in the Qikiqtani (Baffin) Region of Nunavut.
Under Flaherty’s leadership (first as Director and since 2009 as President & CEO), QC has continued to grow into an economic driver in the region, an experienced and reliable partner in industrial, institutional, and infrastructure development. QC is highly active in fisheries, real estate and industrial development, retail services, environmental services, in the mining sector, and the human resources development sector in general with 10 wholly-owned companies and 20 joint venture/affiliated companies.
Working closely with QC’s Board of Directors, Flaherty has focused his efforts towards restructuring the corporation to reflect its long-term business objectives and positioning the corporation as a major participate across various sectors of Nunavut’s emerging economy. As President and CEO, Flaherty continues to emphasize the importance of career development for Inuit and to focus on those opportunities that QC can provide leadership in creating economic development and improving self-reliance by building capacity within the 13 communities of the Qikiqtani region.
Mr. Flaherty’s dedication and commitment to growing Qikiqtaaluk Corporation and the Nunavut economy are evidenced in QC’s strong economic presence in the north and reputation for being a leader to advance major projects through innovative approaches and creating positive and lasting social impacts. His work has made him the most recognized business leader in the Inuit Nunangat and Qikiqtaaluk Corporation will continue to grow and prosper under his leadership.
In addition to his duties with QC, as Director of Nunasi Corporation, Flaherty has been providing support and guidance over the past few years as the Corporation views its strategic restructuring in synergy with Nunavut’s three regional development corporations.
Flaherty says that the needs and priorities of the QC remain fairly consistent since our last interview in 2017, and adds, “the emerging investments supporting Inuit led economic and social development implementation, provides for a degree of optimism, as we prepare our participation in Nunavut’s post- covid economic recovery.”
“Within QC’s Group of Companies, our participation in Nunavut’s economic sectors is broad, as such we provide an overview highlighting a few of our wholly owned subsidiaries, noting we view economic and social development as one,” he says.
Flaherty’s dedication and commitment to growing Qikiqtaaluk Corporation and the Nunavut economy are evidenced in Qikiqtaaluk Corporation’s strong economic presence in the north and reputation for being a leader to advance major projects through innovative approaches and creating positive and lasting social impacts.
A prominent achievement was purchasing QC minority partner’s 49 percent share of Qikiqtaaluk Fisheries Corporation (QFC) in 2018. QC now has full ownership of QFC which enables autonomy and independent decision-making to focus on hiring and training Inuit to operate and manage the fishing vessel the Saputi. It also means that the revenue will stay in Nunavut and benefit the Qikiqtani Region and Inuit. Having full ownership will allow QC to market products from Nunavut which will contribute not only to QFC but will help to promote the entire Nunavut offshore fishing industry.
Other additions to QC wholly owned subsidiaries include Aqsarniit Hotel and Conference Centre Inc., Qikiqtaaluk Business Development Corporation, Nunavut Nukkiksautiit Corporation, PanArctic Communications Inc., and Akiuq Corporation (IOL Land Development). QC and Group of Companies are currently executing a four-year major capital investment program for a total project value of approximately $142,000,000 requiring QC equity investment of $51,000,000.
Nunavut Nukkiksautiit Corporation—Clean Energy Projects in the North
QC is proudly a pioneer for clean energy. In 2017, QC established Nunavut Nukkiksautiit Corporation (NNC), Nunavut’s first 100% Inuit-owned renewable energy developer—a milestone for clean energy in the north.
“As Inuit, we often feel the effects of climate change more intensely than others,” says Flaherty. “With ice thawing earlier and earlier every year, it is becoming increasingly difficult to access traditional areas for hunting and fishing throughout the year. “
“We know that one of the most effective ways of mitigating the effects of climate change is to transition away from diesel fuel use for electricity generation, towards a cleaner technology such as wind, solar, or hydroelectricity,” he says. “With increased volatility in fuel pricing and cheaper clean technologies available, it is now more important than ever to enable the clean energy transition in Nunavut. In order to do so, renewable energy development in Nunavut must be fundamentally driven by Inuit and communities.”
Renewable energy has the unique ability to provide economic, environmental, and social benefits through this infrastructure development. Long-term revenue generation, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and job creation are all immediate benefits communities will feel as a result of renewable energy development in Nunavut. Says Flaherty, “It is imperative that these benefits remain with Inuit and communities in the Territory.”
In fact, NNC is leading a number of renewable energy initiatives across the Qikiqtani Region, including a clean energy microgrid in Iqaluit which will provide an off-grid, clean energy solution to the Aqsarniit Hotel & Conference Centre, and a community-scale wind and battery energy storage project in Sanikiluaq. The microgrid project in Iqaluit has been confirmed to commence construction this year, with the Sanikiluaq project following in 2023 pending regulatory approvals. NNC is also leading a number of other clean energy initiatives in the feasibility stage including community-scale microgrid projects and regional research initiatives related to renewable resource availability in the Territory.
Flaherty says the biggest barrier to the success of community-scale renewable energy projects in Nunavut is related to the sale of electricity. “There is currently one utility operating in Nunavut with no policy in place to enable the interconnection of renewable energy generation,” he says. “This is preventing community-scale projects from being realized throughout the Territory and is preventing local benefits from being established within communities. We are actively working to remove this barrier through a collaborative approach to ensure Inuit-led, community-scale renewable energy projects are successful in Nunavut.”
Flaherty has shaped Qikiqtaaluk Corporation and Group of Companies into what they are today. Under Flaherty’s direction, QC has achieved significant milestones for an Inuit development corporation such as being the first Inuit company to partner with the Government of Nunavut under a P3 model, the first Inuit company to secure bonding as a prime contractor and the first Inuit company to hire more than 500 Inuit a year for development projects in Nunavut.
A recipient of the CCBA Lifetime achievement award, Flaherty has committed his life to service to the Qikiqtani Inuit. He has a vision of what Inuit Organizations can be and promotes a balanced growth strategy that maximizes local community and Inuit participation always respecting Inuit culture, language, and the land.