The first arctic tech forum of its kind brings Inuit together in Iqaluit
Inuit from across Inuit Nunangat gather in Iqaluit this week for a north-focused technology forum.
The event is the first of its kind in Iqaluit. The Inuit Technology Forum started Tuesday at Aqsarniit Hotel and is expected to end on Thursday.
The conference focuses on bringing the public and private sectors together to discuss the challenges and opportunities posed by technology for the Inuit and their communities – everything from internet access and cybersecurity to the use of technology for fisheries and research.
Madeleine Redfern, Chief Operating Officer of CanArctic Inuit Networks and former Mayor of Iqaluit, was part of a panel of people presenting energy innovation.
She said she’s been frustrated in the past because these conferences are typically held in the South.
“We’re talking about the Arctic: innovation in the Arctic, development in the Arctic, and opportunity in the Arctic,” she said. “It’s important for the private sector and government – especially the federal government in Ottawa – to come here and experience our reality.”
She added that it is also important for governments and businesses to see the keen interest many Inuit have in technology and their desire to be a part of it.
“We want to develop businesses and Inuit development companies and include equity in these large-scale projects, whether they’re energy, telecoms or transportation,” Redfern said.
Tuesday’s events included several speakers on creating new energy options, tomorrow’s technology and business support for technology companies in the region.
Other issues such as internet speed caught the interest of Kirt Ejesiak, owner of Arctic UAV Inc. His company offers drone services in the area, but the lack of a strong internet limits its capabilities.
“We have a lot of big promises here…but often that’s not exactly what we get,” he said, adding that he believes it’s part of the job of the Inuit who attended the forum, governments and businesses for to hold their promises accountable.
Sheldon Nimchuk, director of project development and business partnerships at Qikiqtaaluk Business Development Corporation and organizer of the event, said he hopes the forum will take place again – and that it will evolve into an annual or biannual event.
“I think the significance of this is that we strive to show what is currently happening in the Inuit regions to explore ideas of what might come in the future,” Nimchuk said.