The Kivalliq Inuit Association
Created for the representation of all Inuit living in the Kivalliq region, Nunavut, the Kivalliq Inuit Association (KIA) is a Designated Inuit Organization under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. The KIA is an integral organization ensuring Inuit are represented in a fair and democratic manner in the development, protection, administration and advancement of their rights and benefits as an aboriginal people; as well as to promote their economic, social, political and cultural well-being through succeeding generations.
KIA’s goals are integral to its mission of preserving Inuit heritage, culture and language. KIA does this through the management of Inuit-owned lands in the region and providing information to, and consulting with, land claims beneficiaries on land use. Protecting Arctic Wildlife and the environment, thereby preserving traditional uses for current and future generations, and assisting Inuit in the Kivalliq region in training and preparation for a Nunavut Territory are also the mission of the KIA.
KIA also oversees a number of programs and organizations that advance KIA’s mission. Among them is the business arm of KIA: Sakku Investments Corporation.
Sakku Investments Corp.
Created in 1989 by the Kivalliq Inuit Association (KIA), Sakku is the development corporation of KIA and is deemed an Inuit Birthright Corporation, proudly representing the interests of all Inuit in the Kivalliq region.
“Sakku was formed to participate in the private sector, creating opportunities to position Inuit as active participants in the economy and the social fabric of what would later become Nunavut. Through that involvement in the business sector, Sakku would ultimately generate new revenue for KIA, which would strengthen KIA’s ability to improve quality of life for Inuit and fulfill the promise of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement,” says David Kakuktinniq, President and CEO of Sakku Investments Corporation.
“At the time, business activity in the region was not as robust as it is today—and so initially, our purpose relied on building the local business sector and capitalize on private sector opportunities. This involved acquiring and creating local enterprises, and establishing the essential services required by newer forms of industry in the North, notably mining,” says Kakuktinniq. “Sakku also focused on developing the partnerships, teams and expertise that would make it possible to scale up business activity and attract larger enterprises to the Kivalliq.”
After 30 years of operation, the Kivalliq’s development needs have changed. “The local business sector has matured and grown. Mining revenues have put our region in a much stronger financial position, with stable revenue streams,” says Kakuktinniq. “Sakku has established strong partnerships, and our management teams have forged the connections, competencies and experience needed to succeed in the Arctic economy.”
With this strong foundation in place, Sakku is ready to embark on an exciting new phase of development, with a stalwart focus on new initiatives that will continue building the Kivalliq economy while creating a better quality of life and new opportunities for Inuit throughout the region.
Sakku is currently involved in more than 20 businesses focused on five major sectors in the Kivalliq region (mining and industrial services; transportation and logistics; health and medical services; professional services; and property development). Sakku owns 100 per cent of three of the companies. In the other businesses, Sakku’s share of ownership ranges from 16.5 to 76 per cent, with the vast majority being 51 per cent ownership. These well-established ventures are providing a strong foundation to pursue additional opportunities in housing, energy and telecommunications.
Game Changing Initiatives
Sakku is driving several game-changing initiatives on the near horizon. A few examples are the first modular housing factory in the North, which will provide an Inuit-made solution to reverse Nunavut’s severe housing shortage while also creating new employment and training opportunities; The Kivalliq Hydro-Fibre Link, which will bring clean hydro power and high-speed internet to Nunavut for the first time; and a new, expanded boarding home in Winnipeg to serve Inuit travelling south for medical treatment.
Cultivating the Right Partnerships
Sakku’s close relationship with the Kivalliq Inuit Association (KIA) ensures that they are focused on the needs and opportunities of every community in the region. “We are directly accountable to the KIA Board, which has Directors elected by each of the seven communities in the Kivalliq,” says Kakuktinniq. “In turn, the Board provides us with direct insight into the current and emerging needs of the people they are accountable to. We also keep one eye on the important work of nation-building and the larger concerns of Nunavut as a whole. We are part of a network of Inuit organisations extending throughout all regions of Nunavut and beyond.”
Mentorship and Training
Mentorship and training play a tremendously important role. While Sakku is involved in many partnerships and joint ventures, the company aims to develop its own internal capacity by providing employees with opportunities to develop new skills and undertake specialized work. They, in turn, can share their own unique knowledge and insights with our business partners. In this way, we all learn from each other.
Sakku is also deeply committed to creating a more promising future for Inuit by supporting education, training and employment opportunities. “We work closely with Nunavut Arctic College and the Government of Nunavut Family Services to build on local apprenticeship programs,” says Kakuktinniq. “Our new modular housing factory in Arviat is one example of how we are creating pathways to good, lasting employment in the skilled trades, and also provide scholarships to pursue careers in professional services and high-demand occupations like health care.”
Protection of the natural environment is fundamental to the Inuit harvest economy and way of life—and a top priority for Sakku.
The widespread dependence on diesel is a challenge Sakku is eager to tackle. With diesel currently being the only form of energy available in the Kivalliq on a large scale, the environmental risks created by its shipping, storage and use are simply not compatible with Inuit values. Kakuktinniq and the entire Sakku team are working to see this heavy dependence of diesel reversed. “This is one reason why we are so excited about the potential of our new alternative energy programs, which will provide the Kivalliq with clean, reliable alternatives to diesel fuel,” says Kakuktinniq.
Hydroelectric power is a promising alternative. Sakku is the driving force behind the new Kivalliq Hydro-Fibre Link, a huge project that will bring hydroelectric power to five of the seven communities in the Kivalliq (Arviat, Whale Cove, Rankin Inlet, Chesterfield Inlet and Baker Lake).
In the other two Kivalliq communities (Coral Harbour and Naujaat), Sakku-owned Kivalliq Alternative Energy is establishing local solar energy systems that can replace up to 30 per cent of electricity now generated by diesel in these communities.
“We know that the availability of clean energy in the Kivalliq will make this region much more attractive for investment as we move forward,” says Kakuktinniq.
Several new projects are always taking shape with Sakku, says Kakuktinniq. Currently, the three with the most far-reaching benefits for the region are Sakku Innovative Building Solutions, the Kivalliq Larga expansion and the Kivalliq Hydro-Fibre Link. These projects are opening the door to exciting new opportunities.
Sakku Innovative Building Solutions (SIBS)
SIBS is an Inuit-led, Inuit-made solution to the housing shortage that must be overcome if the Kivalliq—and Nunavut as a whole—is to realize its full potential. Overcrowding, and lack of good-quality housing, is certainly a quality-of-life issue, but it’s also an economic issue. Without sufficient housing, people may experience barriers to accepting a new job, studying for a new career and just getting the rest they need to be healthy and live life to the fullest.
“There are many reasons why our housing shortage is so persistent: The northern construction season is short. It can be difficult and expensive to transport materials,” says Kakuktinniq
“Too often, we rely on the services and building designs of companies from the south, who don’t understand the kind of housing we need for our lifestyles and weather conditions. Plus, by bringing in so many tradespeople from the south, we are essentially “exporting” wages that we would like to see staying here in the Kivalliq.”
SIBS is changing that dynamic. At its new SIBS factory in Arviat, now under construction, SIBS will be manufacturing modular housing units that will be shipped to communities throughout the region for final assembly and finishing.
Within a few years, SIBS will have the capacity to add hundreds of new homes to the region’s housing infrastructure, employ 40 full-time staff at the Arviat factory, and hundreds of secondary jobs delivering and installing finished modules on site—as well as 145,000 hours of apprenticeship training during that period.
“And of course, the societal benefits will be exponential,” says Kakuktinniq. “Imagine the pride that comes from knowing an Inuit-owned company is overcoming one of the region’s biggest challenges.”
Larga Kivalliq expansion
Larga Kivalliq is the name of the medical boarding home in Winnipeg for Inuit who must travel south for medical and other reasons. The goal is to provide a comfortable, welcoming place to stay during what can be very stressful times away. Country food, respect for Inuit culture and services in both English and Inuktituk are all important aspects of the Larga Kivalliq experience.
For nearly 20 years, Sakku operated Larga Kivalliq in partnership with Nunasi Corporation and other partners. As of this fall, Sakku has moved to sole ownership of the service, which will make it easier to introduce changes that will benefit Inuit.
Among those changes will be a move to larger site. Larga Kivalliq currently has 121 beds and provides 73,000 bed-stays per year, which means many medical travelers must be accommodated at hotels. The search is now on for a new home for Larga—either through purchase or lease of a new building, or perhaps new construction. As the facility expands, Sakku is also looking at opportunities to enhance the services provided on site—for example, by co-locating with a pharmacy.
Kivalliq Hydro-Fibre Link
This will be a nation-building green infrastructure initiative. Currently, Nunavut is the only territory with no regional power grid.
The Kivalliq Hydro-Fibre Link will be Nunavut’s first major infrastructure link to southern Canada. More than 1,200 kilometres of 150MW line will run from northern Manitoba to five communities in the Kivalliq, delivering reliable, renewable and affordable electricity and broadband internet to remote Arctic communities.
Sakku and KIA are driving the project through complete ownership of Nukik Corporation, which is overseeing development and implementation. The President of Nukik is David Kakuktinniq, President and CEO of Sakku. The Chair of Sakku, Dino Bruce, is a member of the Nukik Board of Directors. As an Inuit-owned, Inuit-led corporation, Nukik is a powerful example of Inuit self-determination.
In a short time, Sakku has established itself as a critical stakeholder for economic development in the Kivalliq and across the Inuit Nunangat. When we speak of economic development, we mean progress in all its forms—including expansion of business activity, improvement of the social infrastructure, reinvestment of revenues in Inuit communities and creation of more opportunities for Inuit to be part of the wage economy.
Through steady revenue streams and a well-established portfolio of businesses in diverse but complementary sectors, Sakku has established strong connections to both governments and private industry, as well as a regional, national and international point of view. “We’ve developed our internal capacity and capabilities through our successful track record in large ventures, with world-class venture partners,” says Kakuktinniq. Over the years, we’ve developed the capacity and network to make important changes happen.”
For more information on the work Sakku is doing, or to connect for future business partnerships, please visit www.sakkuinvestments.ca