April 21, 2023


Premier Caroline Cochrane, at right, shares a laugh as she prepares to officiate the swearing in of the NWT Chamber's new Board at the 2023 AGM April 13 at the Explorer Hotel in Yellowknife. Nine of the total of 13 directors were present. From left to right: Yanik D'Aigle, Bill Kellett, Mike Bryant, Tiffany Robinson, Alan Vaughan, Mike Scott, incoming President Newton Grey, Jeremy Dixon and Paul Gillard. Missing from photo: Cynthia Mufandaedza, Wally Schumann, Lee Cawson and Mark Brajer. Photo by AGM guest Katrina Nokleby posted to Facebook

D'Aigle reflects on departure

Ending his two-year term, President Yanik D'Aigle thanked everyone for attending the April 13 AGM and also expressed his gratitude for the work done by the outgoing board. From his speech at the podium:

"Throughout the year, we continued to advocate and be at the forefront regarding inflation and the cost of doing business in the North and holding the government to account in ways they could help or do things differently.

"We advocated for post-pandemic recovery policies and business support. We continued to advocate around the current procurement process for the federal and NWT governments and the changes we believe should occur.

"We continue to advocate against the Carbon Tax as presented until real alternative solutions can be provided to Northern businesses and residents. And we’ll continue to listen to our members to help be their voice to advocate positive change on their behalf.

"As we enter our 50th year with a new board and new members, the finalizing of our new Strategic Plan will be instrumental in positioning our priorities as an organization for the next four years. I would encourage all members and stakeholders to reach out and share with us what you think these should be."

Executive Director James O'Connor's report was contained in the AGM Booklet. Some excerpts:

"There are many government agencies providing training and financial support for entrepreneurs to get off the ground in the North. Where do we come in? Once those businesses are in operation, they will discover government regulations can end up being a detriment to their success.

"That’s where the need for NWT businesses to speak with one unified voice becomes important. The NWT Chamber works to ensure the stage is set and the playing field is level.

"Standing alone as a small business can be daunting and disempowering. Uniting with other businesses through a Chamber of Commerce can give your small business big backing."

Materials from the AGM, including a short video of the gathering, can be found here.

Finance, Industry, Tourism and Investment Minister Caroline Wawzonek gave an update on the NWT's economy at our AGM and later took some questions from the audience. Photos by James O'Connor

The Anonymous Art Show at the Gallery of the Midnight Sun. People could purchase canvas squares created by invited locals, from school kids to professional artists. Photo by James O'Connor

Don't let the Sun go down on this funky Old Town gallery

Perhaps related to our Poll Question this week?

The Gallery of the Midnight Sun, a tourism hotspot in Old Town, has been listed for sale since December 2022.

The facility, located on Bryson Drive, has been listed online for $795,000.

According to the gallery’s Facebook page, owner Lisa Seagrave announced in January that she plans to continue operating the business even though it is listed for sale.

In an interview with NNSL's Yellowknifer, Seagrave said there is no reason to close the gallery’s doors.

“I’m 58, so I still have a couple of good years left,” she said. “For now, it’s business as usual.”

She said she has been running the business successfully for 25 years but she and her business partners are approaching retirement age and are planning accordingly.

MEANWHILE: The great retirement rethink

Given the rising share of older workers in the Canadian labour force, the number of retirements has trended upward over the past two decades, reports The Conference Board of Canada.

The lifting of pandemic restrictions drove a surge in retirements in 2022, as many who had delayed their exit from the workforce during the first two years of the pandemic seized the moment.

Today, continues the Board, market volatility and political uncertainty has rates of retirement appearing to be return to pre-pandemic levels.


Topic: Getting a bead on biz potential 

What one sector in the NWT could hold untapped opportunity for the business community?

Industry, Tourism and Investment Minister Caroline Wawzonek was asked that at the AGM and, after a pause to reflect, she noted there has been "such a surge" of artists in the last few years.

While they do sell very well locally, "if we could get those folks in front of a a different audience," they could command more money for their works, maybe hire apprentices and grow their businesses.

Question: Is there a missed biz opportunity with the surge of NWT artists (as tourism returns)?


Question: The federal government's new budget proposes to spend $1.2 billion on a lunar utility vehicle. The Moon Program funding is in addition to commitments to the International Space Station and other programs. Is this a worthy use of taxpayers' money at this time?

  • YES 55%
  • NO 45%


"This is the last thing our economy, Canadian businesses or Canadians need right now."

— Canadian Chamber of Commerce President Perrin Beatty, in the Financial Post, on the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) strike, one of the biggest in Canada’s history. He continued:

"These work stoppages are a significant blow to our economy, as well as the businesses that serve as the backbone of communities across the country."


While Vital Metals is pausing all construction-related activities at its at the half-finished Saskatoon processing plant, the company noted its Yellowknife-area Nechalacho rare-earths mine, is estimated to be “one of the largest single deposits in the western world, with the potential to be one of the largest suppliers of permanent magnet motor minerals in North America.”

Common wisdom holds that there is going to be some serious funding coming sooner than later from Ottawa for the Taltson hydro expansion. Minister Vandal strongly hinted as much when meeting recently with Chambers in Yellowknife. Fits in nicely with fed's Budget 2023 and it's on Premier Cochrane's wish list.


Friday Futures:

If you know of someone who might be interested in joining our organization, ask them to have a look at our website to find out more about us.

After an absence of two years, the NWT Chamber's golf tournament returns Friday, August 18 at the Yellowknife Golf Club. After 18 holes, participants will be treated to a reception with a silent auction and a delicious meal. More details will follow, but please save that date and start thinking of teams to enter.

To celebrate the NWT Chamber's 50th anniversary this year, a major one-day conference and evening reception is being planned for Sept. 29. Stay tuned for information.

The next NWT Chamber Board Meeting is May 17 at 11am in-person or Zoom


Inquire with the NWT Chamber's Executive Director about sponsorship and newsletter advertising opportunities. We also offer limited numbers of EBlasts to members each month and promoted social media posts can be arranged.

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