Melissa Bonnetplume had been more than a year out of work when she came by the Inuvik job fair Wednesday, Oct. 18.
“It’s been hard looking for jobs that we want,” she said. “It is slow but we just keep trying on the internet, looking for what’s open and keep putting our resumes everywhere.”
With a house full of children, though some are of age to work now, Bonnetplume says it’s hard to keep up with the high prices in the North. She’s been in Inuvik since 1997 and went to school here before that.
“I’ve got to go home and tell my daughters to come here,” she said.
Calvin Elias, manager of Caps Off Recycling, said he received some interest at the fair. His business offers a good training and stepping-stone opportunity to other jobs, he said.
“It’s lower end for the employment side, so it’s a good starter for anybody who’s looking to get started in the work world,” said Elias, adding that much of the work in the North is seasonal.
“Recycling is 24/7. That’s the good thing about us here. There is no season for recycling.”
Matthew Wheelans, store manager of the Inuvik NorthMart, said he finds it hard to keep staff.
“There are always opportunities here for work, for us anyway,” he said.
“We hire almost daily in our store. I love promoting local people to supervisor, manager levels.”
Jeff Konkle, acting manager of human resources for Canadian North, said the downturn in the oil industry in 2014 and 2015 impacted the airline substantially.
“We obviously survived,” said Konkle. “We’re actually doing a lot more hiring than what we did in 2015, 2016. I think the worst is behind us in terms of letting people go instead of hiring them. I think in the next six months to a year there will be a lot more hiring from our end.”
Canadian North has job opportunities in Inuvik for ticket agents and customer service representatives, which don’t require post-secondary work, but many of its jobs in the southern centres do require higher credentials.
David Stewart, producer at the Inuvialuit Communications Society, was happy to have one interested Inuvialuit youth come by who wanted an acting opportunity. That said, he worries about the greater economy.
“Once that road is finished construction, there’s not going to be much going on,” said Stewart. “I really feel for those that live up here, especially young people. I can understand you want to stay in the town you grew up in, but it’s tough. I would recommend that you do leave and at least go to school in the south, just to see if it agrees with you, because I don’t see much happening here in the next few years.”
That said, he does see opportunity for people to start small businesses. He dreams of a donut shop between Inuvik and Tuk on the new highway.
“You’d be making money hand over first,” he smiled.
But Stewart sees something in the people that might not be so present in the economy.
“As much as this does seem like an economically depressed place, these are not depressed people,” said Stewart.
“There’s a lot of good energy in this room, this town and this area. I have faith things will pick up. I don’t know how, but I know people are very resourceful here and I think things will eventually pick up.”