Every initiative taken for a good cause is always a success despite the challenges. It only takes a kind intention to bring about a change in peoples lives. With a noble thought in mind, Harry Flaherty embarked upon a journey to resolve the economic problems of Inuit in Canada. Started in 1983, Qikiqtaaluk Corporation (QC) is purposed to provide employment and financial opportunities for Inuit in the Qikiqtani region of Nunavut. Harry Flaherty, President and CEO of Qikiqtaaluk Corporation (QC), is a successful leader backed with more than 30 years of industry experience, who has greatly contributed in the growth and expansion of the company. We are honored to have the opportunity to share his incredible journey, with a few insights from the expert himself, Harry Flaherty.
The Start of a Wonderful Tale
Qikiqtaaluk Corporation was formed in 1983, to provide economic opportunities for Inuit of our region through the access of an offshore fisheries quota. As with most startup companies, QC faced early challenges in developing their human and financial capacity to advance their participation in various economic sectors of their region. While QC started out as a small fishing company, with one employee, QC has evolved to become a Corporate Leader that owns 11 – 100% Inuit owned Businesses as well as 13 Joint Venture & Partnership companies with over 530 employees, 66% being Inuit.
Today, QC’s business growth strategy continues to focus on investment in their region through expansion of their existing businesses or through the creation of new businesses in pursuit of emerging opportunities.
The Inspiring Insights of a Successful Leader
Born and raised in Grise Fiord, Canada’s most northernly civilian community, Harry learned to appreciate nature for providing food for his family as well as being introduced to the wage economy through the selling of furs. Spending his early days in Canada’s most northern civilian community helped develop a strong understanding of the importance of family, community and self-reliance. As he recalls, his earliest memories had him aspiring to have a career within the environmental or wildlife management profession.
With over 30 years of experience with major projects in Nunavut, Harry Flaherty is a recognized Inuit manager and business leader. He brings hands-on experience at operational and regulatory level. Harry is recognized with the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum CAF-FCA, an organization dedicated to supporting apprenticeship training throughout Canada for his commitment and contribution as a past member of the CAF-FCA Board or Directors. He is also, recognized by the Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Deputy Minsters Pride and Recognition Award of Excellence Services for his important contribution as a member of the Resolution Island Remediation Project. He was awarded the 2018 Canadian Council of Aboriginal Business Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award, being the First Indigenous Inuit to receive this award in its 20-year history. Most recently, Harry was the winner of CEO Today Magazine Global Award 2019 and awarded the 2019 Top Indigenous Business of the year with the Aboriginal Indigenous Investment Society.
As President & CEO of Qikiqtaaluk Corporation & Group of Companies, the Birthright Economic Development Corporation for the Qikiqtani Region, Mr. Flaherty is constantly seeking out opportunities to utilize and increase Inuit Capacity through new projects in line with the QC overall governance standards and the communities’ need for industrial and infrastructure projects. “As President and CEO, my primary responsibility is to ensure business decisions of the corporation are reflective of and are on behalf of Qikiqtani Inuit as represented through our Board of Directors with term appointments made by our shareholder, the Qikiqtani Inuit Association.” Says, Harry.
Harry has been involved in the creation of numerus Inuit wholly owned, joint ventures and partnership in order to increase its business development and exposure to get involved in large projects that are important for Nunavut. Most recent companies created are the Nunavut Nukkisautiit Corporation and PanArctic Communications Inc. which will focus on future renewable energy and telecommunication opportunities respectively.
The Exceptional Services of QC
QC’s operations span over a wide range of industries, including fisheries, marine services and marine transportation, fuel distribution, development of Inuit own land, energy efficiency, Inuit recruitment and employment for large projects, expediting, project management, P3 project development, environmental services and DEW line remediation, real estate, retail, patient care, and construction development.
QC’s growth has steadily increased over the past few years to achieving over 120,000 million dollars in annual revenue. Their mission is to create meaningful economic, employment and career development opportunities for Inuit. As an Inuit development corporation, owned by the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, QC represent approximately 14,000 Qikiqtani Inuit living within 13 of Nunavut’s 25 communities. Their business representation of Qikiqtani Inuit provides QC with the mandate to align investment partnerships between various levels of Government and the private sector in order to focus on advancing socio-economic opportunities while building community capacity and self-reliance.
The Future of QC
Despite the successful growth of the company over the years, there are yet a few roadblocks that the team of QC face even today. Aligning economic opportunities which rely on core Government program delivery, infrastructure investments within fiscal year procurement processes are at odds with the logistical realities of a limited window of opportunity to have material delivered by sea. To overcome this challenge, they are taking more of a lead in promoting partnerships towards longer term impactful co-investments.
“Our continued efforts to improve our core business services, as well as our pursuit of new business opportunities creates a sense of accomplishment within myself and our staff but more importantly our motivation comes from the knowledge that we are ultimately working on behalf of Inuit.”, Harry shares.
It is anticipated that QC’s opportunities globally in the foreseeable future will build on their existing Fisheries customer base (China, Japan & Germany). Opportunities for east west trade would evolve with critical marine infrastructure such as a deep seaport in the community of Qikiqtarjuaq. Telecommunications and tourism also offer opportunities to expand international business linkages.
Challenges are a part of every small or big business, however, the passion to overcome the challenge and achieve success is the attribute of few leaders like Harry Flaherty. He is a leader who cares about the growth of his company and its employees. His success story is an inspiration for every individual who wants to change the conventional and impact the lives of people. With a noble thought of changing lives and helping people Harry and his team of QC are determined to shape the lives of Inuits in an incredible way.