And the nominees are…
The Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce has released the list of nominees for the 2021 Business Resilience Awards.
Though there weren’t as many nominations as last year, the number remains pretty consistent according to Deneen Everett, the chamber’s executive director.
“We received 78 nominations this year, compared to 82 the previous year,” she said. “I think that Yellowknifers understand the hardships that businesses have been facing and are looking for ways to support their favourite businesses.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the awards, which was originally incorporated in 1946.
“The organization has a long history of serving Yellowknife businesses,” said Everett. “This is the eighth time we’ve hosted the Business Awards and I think it’s becoming a Small Business Week tradition in Yellowknife. I remember the first time we hosted the awards back in 2014 and I’m proud of how it’s grown and the positive response we receive each year from our membership.”
Due the pandemic, an in-person event will not be taking place. Other means of celebration are currently be looked into by the Chamber.
“[We] will be sharing our plans in the coming days,” said Everett.
For nominated businesses like Dan Wong’s Jackpine Paddle, there hasn’t been much time to sit back and smell the roses.
“I appreciate it,” said Wong. “I haven’t had any time to look into it … because I’ve been super busy running the business [laughs]. We still have a lot going on right now, we’re just finishing up a Northern Guide Training Program.”
The program Wong refers to helps to bring a more Northern aspect to Northern tourism, which also brings the Northern element of Wong’s business the forefront.
“Every year we grow,” said Wong. “We’ve added a lot of new trips. I think right now, we’re really excited about our Northern Guide Training Program. In hunting, paddling, and fishing, there’s actually not a lot of Northerners working in the field.
“Instead, there’s a lot of Southern companies, bringing up Southern guides,” he continued. “As a Northern-owned tourism business, we’re different from that and locally owned, and we’re trying to train more Northerners to have the skills that they need, the certifications to work in this outdoor adventure industry.”
As for working in a pandemic, Wong says it’s been “extremely busy” and thanks the community support.
“We’ve definitely had to change our business model,” he said. “We’re a tourism operator, so we’ve lost the bulk of our revenue stream with the border restrictions, which are still ongoing.
“We’ve really just had tremendous support locally,” he continued. “We had out best summer ever in 2020, I mean every summer for us is our best summer ever since we started. We’re fortunate, then, to build off that and this year looks like it could be the next best summer ever. So, it’s been a lot of hard work. For me, for our wilderness guides, our canoe and kayak instructors. But, we’ve had just such a tremendous summer. That’s all thanks to Northerners.”
Wong also thanked the government agencies for their support in helping his business during COVID times.
The same also goes for Stanley’s Boxing and Fitness, where John Stanley was also grateful for the community support.
“It’s fantastic,” said John Stanley. “You know, we’ve been working hard over the last couple of years, trying to adapted and adjust to everything that’s been going on.
“To see that we’re helping our community, and people really feel that and appreciate what we’re doing. It makes us feel good, [it] makes it worthwhile for us.
“We can’t thank them enough, they’re the reason why we’re getting nominated for these awards,” added Scott Thomson, co-owner. “We’d be lost without them.”
Stanley also commented on the difficulties of working through the pandemic, saying it certainly impacts the business.
“Especially right now,” he said. “Because we’re limited for numbers and all that stuff. We can only have 10 people in the class at a time, and that’s difficult because some of our members are not able to make it into classes.
“Throughout the two year period,” said Stanley. “We’ve been able to adjust and pivot, and do everything we’ve needed to do to keep our members happy. But, it has reduced revenue recently, for sure, and it’s a little frustrating because our members are trying to support us. They’re paying for their memberships and sometimes their not able to get in. I feel like it’s one of those things that’s ‘we want to do our part for the community, we want to follow regulations, and do everything as we should’, but at the same time, we’re not quite able to do what we normally do.”
As for what folks can expect from Stanley’s Boxing and Fitness in the future, Stanley and crew will continue making adjustments as needed to keep things running.
“Once something comes out, we figure out a way we can service our clients around that,” he said. “From the kickboxing side of things, it’s difficult because we can’t compete or anything so it’s hard to keep people motivated, but we’re doing the best we can. We’re always going to find a way service our clients one way or the other.
“These are difficult times,” he added. “It’s nobody’s fault, everybody’s just trying to get by and adapt kind of thing.”