THINK LOCAL. SUPPORT LOCAL. BUY LOCAL.
The “buy local” movement has been a growing consumer trend over the past few years as people across Canada and the world look to support products and services offered right where they live. The Yukon is no exception.
Yukoners have been creating new retail spaces and restaurants, forming new service providers, and developing locally produced foods and products. According to the 2015 Yukon Business Survey, sole proprietorships accounted for 43.8 percent of businesses in the territory and partnerships represented 8.7 percent of businesses. Of those sole proprietorships, 7.5 percent were Yukon First Nation owners.
The territory has long been a place to innovate and try new things, where entrepreneurship is encouraged and northerners are welcomed to think outside the box. Arguably there isn’t the same sense of competition you’ll find in larger Canadian cities, which presents opportunity for new niches.
Yukoners are savvy about supplying what’s in demand these days. In 2014, YuKonstruct, a makerspace, opened in Whitehorse, followed by (co)space, a shared workspace, in 2015. Both provide people with a gathering spot to get down to business or utilize tools to bring ideas to life.
From an editor’s perspective, there is no shortage of business stories to tell in our “Venture North” section. In fact, my to-do list is long in an attempt to balance long-time industrialists with a crescendo of new entrepreneurs.
Our territory is rich in industries, from agriculture, construction, and mining to retail and restaurants, and it’s exciting to see where new ideas fill the gaps. That’s one reason why we dug into fresh tastes in this issue by highlighting several Whitehorse culinary entrepreneurs (pg. 58). We also go behind the scenes of an organization that’s provided free books to Yukon children for 10 years (pg. 28).
Recently, the Startup Canada Awards were presented across the country, including a first-time regional event aimed at the North, which was held in Whitehorse. The awards acknowledge entrepreneurs who demonstrate excellence and innovation. Some of the business owners honoured have been mentioned or featured in Yukon, North of Ordinary, like Heather Dickson of Dickson Designs and YuKonstruct. Plus, Luke Legault of The Wandering Bison (pg. 58) was a finalist for the Entrepreneur of the Year award.
The majority of the winners were from the Yukon, which makes sense. Last February, while I was transporting guests for the Available Light Film Festival, a group of visiting artists from the Northwest Territories remarked that Whitehorse’s retail and restaurant options are plentiful and exciting compared to what Yellowknife offers.
The Yukon’s population reached a record high of 38,300 in early 2017, so I imagine the originality and enthusiasm in our business sector won’t slow down anytime soon. In fact, even we at North of Ordinary Media have decided to get in on the excitement with the North of Ordinary Discovery Tour. We’re teaming up with Country Travel Discoveries, based in Wisconsin, to bring the magazine to life. The tour takes you on an adventure through the Yukon to visit the people and places we’ve been writing about for over a decade. You've been reading the stories—now it’s time to show you.
If you know of a business or entrepreneur in the Yukon that’s making waves, let me know.
I’m always thrilled to hear how northerners are getting creative.