Cheetah Resources, the NWT’s first rare earths mining company, held a party for Erasmus Apparel Aug. 3.
The Yellowknife clothing retailer is the miner’s 100th Northern supplier.
David Connelly, vice president of corporate affairs and strategy for Cheetah made a special address to store employees and workers from the mining company at the Erasmus store on Franklin Avenue downtown.
Cheetah purchased several pieces of swag from Erasmus as a gesture to support Northern Indigenous businesses as the rare earths mine southeast of Yellowknife attempts to grow from a demonstration project into a fully operational mine.
Connelly said that the purchase of ball-caps, t-shirts and PPE masks are exclusively for employees but should signify the company’s dedication to supporting Northern and Indigenous companies.
“So Cheetah is not trying to sell our product directly, but rather promote Erasmus Apparel as a northern supplier because Sarah (Erasmus) has worked hard over 10 years from being a start-up business to owning a little shop downtown,” he said.
He emphasized the importance of “sticky dollars” or money that is spent in the local economy to support northerners.
“So if you buy locally, that pays someone’s salary and rent and the money stays locally and we are really trying to make that point,” Connelly said.
Store owner Sarah Erasmus said she was happy to be recognized and to help the mining company with product.
“It is great to be able to work with them and I think when companies like Cheetah come into the NWT, it is important to support not only Indigenous businesses but any norther business that you can because it helps keeps them going,” she said.
“Companies have a lot of options – and cheaper options – down south. Everyone knows that it is expensive to live in the North and so it is important to supporti Northern.”
Yanik D’Aigle, president of the NWT Chamber of Commerce was present for Tuesday’s celebration. He said in a statement that it is important to celebrate Northern and Indigenous business in their role in the NWT economy, especially as it rebounds from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“That so many NWT suppliers rose to the occasion during Covid and demonstrated that the NWT business community and their dedicated employees could build Canada’s first rare earth mine gives confidence to investors considering investing in the multigenerational expansion of the Nechalacho Rare Earth Mine,” he said.
“Together they demonstrate the resilience of the NWT’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous business sector.”