SIVUNIVUT Corporation represents beneficiaries within the municipalities of Northwest River and Shehatshiu inside the provincial electoral district of Lake Melville in central Labrador. Sivunivut’s mandate is to deliver programs, communications and services to Labrador Inuit residing in this area. Sivunivut is run by a Board of community directors and headed by an elected Chairperson who represents Inuit beneficiaries of Northwest River and Sheshatshiu. The Chairperson represents the views of the Sivunivut people at assembly meetings of the Nunatsiavut Government.
The aboriginal community of Northwest River has been used as a congregational meeting place by nomadic fur traders for the past 300 years (documented) The village was officially established as a community in 1743 when the fur trade between the Innu, Métis, Inuit and European explorers became a commercial entity. History has seen Revillion Freres and the Hudson’s Bay Company establish North West River as an isolated centre of commerce. This commerce also brought with it the International Grenfell Association’s Centre of Health Care and Educational Services. With the construction of a bridge in 1982 to span the north and south sides of the river, the central hospital shut its doors, throwing 80 jobs out of the community and forcing the once flourishing economy of Northwest River into the more central community of Happy Valley-Goose Bay. For the past 30 years this drift has continued.
WHAT WE HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH
It is time to reverse the trend on behalf of the Inuit residents of Northwest River and Sheshatshiu. This project seeks to; 1. Identify goods and services that are most needed in the community and are not available. 2. Determine revenue potential for local businesses in an effort to attract small business startups. 3. Track expendable income of residents of Northwest River and Sheshatshiu currently being spent in the Happy Valley-Goose Bay retail and services sector. 4. Prepare a formal community action plan to match commercial business interests with community entrepreneurs.
Nalcor Energy is Newfoundland and Labrador’s power utility. The proposed $6.2 billion Lower Churchill hydro project negotiated a strategy with the Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation titled, the “New Dawn Agreement”. This agreement has provided the neighbouring aboriginal community of Sheshatshiu with an opportunity for Innu based businesses to bid on $400 million in potential sub-contracts in 2011 and increase community spending. These local Innu are part of the target market for new business start-ups.
Aurora Energy has significant uranium resources ready for development. The proposed mine site is 150km north of the community which will be connected to Northwest River by a proposed road. If the project succeeds it will significantly increase traffic in the community with more potential to support local businesses.
Northwest River has a significant resource of educated and experienced individuals and organizations who have the ability to establish new Inuit and community owned businesses, thereby enabling a good portion of new and established money to stay within the two communities and create jobs in the process. Increased prosperity in remote aboriginal communities can be achieved through effective opportunity identification leading to a reversal of economic leakage into neighbouring communities. Revenues attracted by resident businesses through this initiative will create new jobs and will enable the Inuit and residents of Northwest River to improve levels of household income and improve the quality of community life. Better services will also attract new residents to the area.
1. Create economic prosperity for the community by harnessing the BUSINESS POTENTIAL of Sivunivut’s Inuit beneficiaries and local residents to service Northwest River’s demand for goods and services and reverse current community economic leakage 2. Promote an entrepreneurial culture in the community. 3. Seek to open up new markets and opportunities for small Inuit and resident businesses. 4. Identify gaps in community business skills and offer entrepreneurial training in the community 5. Promote pride and growth in the community and provide non-residents with the opportunity to spend more time and money in Northwest River.
THE ECONOMIC LEAKAGE STUDY
SIVUNIVUT INUIT COMMUNITY CORPORATION has a goal to complete an economic leakage study which will help reverse the current trend of outflow of spending from Northwest River into the neighbouring central Labrador community of Happy Valley-Goose Bay. This study will identify specific business opportunities for Northwest River that would bring new businesses, jobs and wealth back into the community. The study will: 1. Identify a list of the top ten (10) goods and services that are regularly purchased by residents in the communities of Northwest River and Sheshatshiu and are not available within the municipal boundaries of Northwest River 2. Identify and estimate the total number of dollars associated with the expenditures for aforementioned products and services by sector, community, organization and type of business. 3. Identify and estimate the total number of dollars being spent by Northwest River/Sheshatshiu community governments, band councils and residents commuting daily for work in Happy Valley-Goose Bay based on salary data, statistical profiles and estimated expenditures. 4. Identify goods and services contracts required through aboriginal business via forthcoming hydro and mining developments. 5. Present a comprehensive community economic development strategy for Inuit business development in Northwest River.
THE SITUATION ANALYSIS STUDY
In tandem with the Economic Leakage Study, Sivunivut is preparing a Situation Analysis Study which provides a statistical account of the present status of NWR in terms of demographics and general assets. This study will also deal with the entrepreneurial strengths in the community. Findings will be incorporated into Sivunivut’s long term plan for development of local aboriginal Inuit businesses and sustainability. When complete, findings will be posted on this site.
THE NEEDS ASSESSMENT
We will respond to this study’s objectives by preparing a Needs Assessment that documents findings and sets out a course of action that meets the specific needs in relation to community development. We anticipate this will include some level of business training and education (already underway- see Ideas & Dreams) as part of a greater effort to convey business and employment opportunities within the community.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY
The completion of this study and strategy will lead to the development of an implementation plan that will address areas such as business training programs and business plan development for community members and will result in new business start-ups in the region.
ABORIGINAL AFFAIRS AND NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT CANADA (AANDC) AND THE NUNATSIAVUT EXECUTIVE COUNCIL
Sivunivut would like to thank the Nunatsiavut Executive Council for approving this proposal and moving it forward. We are grateful to Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (formerly known as Indian and Northern Affairs, INAC) for their financial support enabling us to undertake this important initiative. AANDC’s Jennifer Taylor must be commended for hard work and committment to the betterment of aboriginal communities in Labrador.