Some fresh DNA has been concocted in the Beaufort Delta.
Specifically, the Delta North Alliance — a newly formed contacting company established by both the Inuvialuit Development Corporation and the Gwich’in Development Corporation — is hoping to build on and expand capacity to keep jobs in the area.
“We put our teams together,” said IRC director of business development Denny Rodgers. “We have a construction company. We have an engineering firm. We have the capacity.
“Not only is this going great for our region, it’s also going to save the GNWT money. There’s no reason why we can’t do it more efficiently than a company coming up from the south. We’re using locals, so we have employees that live here. In the bigger projects you’ll have to fly in some specialty guys, but the guts of the work can be done here locally.
“It was surprisingly smooth. Everybody wanted this.”
Noting the new company has been in the works since 2018, Rodgers said the corporation was already set to build three duplexes for the upcoming RCMP Housing unit expansion and was involved in the tearing down of the old RCMP hanger at Mike Zubko Airport.
Rodgers added DNA is planning to put in a bid for construction of the new air terminal too.
Another benefit of having a local contracting authority is the company can outsource work to other local businesses and contractors and to expand opportunities for apprenticeships.
“We have our Inuvialuit business lists and the Gwich’in have their business lists,” said Rodgers. “We’ll reach out to those companies and then we have our companies that we either are partners in or we own 100 per cent. But they hire local people as well.”
Inuvialuit Development Corporation Chair Patrick Gruben said the DNA’s ambitions weren’t being limited just to skilled trades, however, noting much of the goal was to create jobs for management and technical positions that could be filled by Inuvialuit and Gwich’in who get the needed training.
Having the capacity in place, noted Gruben, would help spark more varied career ambitions in the imagination of youth.
“We know that we have to start targeting them at a younger age,” he said. “There’s more than what they see, there’s a lot of jobs behind the scene. You go to an airline, there’s so many divisions in an airline company that you can be an employee.
“We’re trying to broaden the opportunities and show them what’s available.”
He noted it took a little bit of convincing to get the process started, but once the GTC and IRC put their ideas on the table, the GNWT was all ears.
“I think we caught the government by surprise,” he said. “When we said we were going to finally work together, they were really quite surprised.”
He added many of the leadership at both the IRC and GTC had a long working history together, so they are already on the same page when it came to keeping work in the area.
“We all saw the same thing,” he said. “Companies were coming in that were not from the region or community, doing a project, taking all the benefits and the profit out.
“That’s why we said we should form this company.”