John Evaglok lost his job in March so he decided to go into business for himself.
He drove trucks underground at the Hope Bay gold mine until March when Covid-19 emerged as a threat. All Nunavummiut mine workers were sent home to minimize the risk of spreading the virus.
With plenty of time on his hands, he started researching how he could turn his 2013 Ford F-150 into a taxi.
“I’d never ran a business before,” he said. “It takes a lot of effort to start a business and run a business. You always have to be thinking.”
He found out it involved months of paperwork.
“It’s pretty complicated. I had to apply for a business licence from the hamlet, taxi licence, taxi registration, worker’s compensation in Iqaluit… insurance, lots of stuff,” he recalled, adding that hamlet economic development officer Angela Gerbrandt, Kitikmeot Community Futures executive director Marg Epp and Kitikmeot Inuit Association business development officer Derek Elias were instrumental in assisting him.
He also had to take his vehicle in for a rigorous inspection.
Evaglok is not only the owner of Angnaoyok Taxi – a reference to his Inuk name – he’s been the company’s sole driver since launching on Nov. 3.
He chose a competitive undertaking as there are at least three other cab operators in Cambridge Bay: the long-established Go Cargo Taxi, Akhok’s Taxi and Tundra Taxi has taken over the assets of Ziggy’s Taxi.
“Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s not so good,” Evaglok said of his days waiting for calls from customers. “It’s a risky business, especially if you don’t know what you’re getting into.”
The busiest period tends during the late morning until early evening when the stores are open, he said.
One of features that Evaglok realized would be handy is a hand-held mobile device to accept payment by debit card, which many people prefer to use than cash, he said.
“Before, I didn’t have this machine. I’d have to bring them to the bank and they’d have to put out money and then I’d bring them to their destination,” Evaglok said of the less-than-ideal previous efforts he’d make to arrange for payment.
Gerbrandt said Evaglok worked very hard to cover off all of the requirements for his business licence and he’s a great communicator.
“He was determined and very, very patient,” she said, adding that his pickup truck will give him a niche since the other cab companies own cars or SUVs.
“I do really wish him well and I do think he’s got everything that it takes to do well,” said Gerbrandt.