A Spirit of Adventure and Enterprise

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Blog Entries

April 29, 2022


When entrepreneurial immigrants consider Canadian destinations, the Northwest Territories may not be the first place they think of.

In ITI’s Business Support & Trade Division, Immigration and Investment Officer Janell Dautel is working to change that; and to promote the great potential that the NWT offers for small businesses start-ups and entrepreneurs.

A special Business Stream of the GNWT’s Nominee Program, delivered in association with Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada, provides support for permanent residency to foreign nationals who want to start a business in the NWT, purchase an existing NWT-based business, or invest in and operate an existing NWT-based business.

All applicants to the Business Stream are required to make an in-person visit to the community they’re interested in moving to in order to understand its opportunities and challenges.

Now that restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic are loosening, Janell says these important visits can resume ensuring that people with new ideas can appreciate how the NWT is the perfect place to develop their enterprise.

News Release: NWT Nominee Program Business Stream Reopens

Whatever the immigration story, Janell says the Government of the Northwest Territories is keen to welcome newcomers, and help make their dreams become reality.

Sometimes it takes a newcomer to see a gap in service where locals might overlook. When Fannie Zhong visited Yellowknife she found that there were not many indoor children’s entertainment places. Her enterprise, My Place, filled a gap Yellowknifers were only beginning to realize existed.

Programs In Action: Indoor Children’s Play Area Opens

Other times, the owner of a business that Northerners have relied on for years cannot find anybody locally to take over when they decide to retire.  This was the case when Mr. Bingjun Wang took over as the owner of Diamond Drycleaners.

New Business Owner Settles in Yellowknife

For some the North is an unexpected great fit! That was the case for Sophia Jia who compared Yellowknife’s small, quiet and welcoming nature very similar to her hometown, Anshan, in the far north of China.  Jia’s restaurant, YK Hot Pot was such a success with locals that she is now expanding and upgrading. 

From China to Canada’s North: Immigration Program Welcomes Authentic Cuisine

And on occasion things don’t go as planned, but ingenuity wins out. In the planning of their new business, Northern Sky Films wanted to give aurora tourists something to do that wasn’t a frigid -40C.  They created a cozy camp atmosphere to show the Northern lights from the comfort of a lounge chair… but then the tourists couldn’t come. And instead of despairing, these creative entrepreneurs did a 360, and brought other worlds and adventures to cooped-up Yellowknifers in the form of virtual reality games. Be sure to check out their website to see how they have modified their vision.

Programs in Action: NWT Welcomes First Dome Theatre

ITI’s Business Stream is part of the NWT Nominee Program - a two part initiative bringing in Employees for businesses who cannot find local employees to fill positions on one hand and the Entrepreneur Business Stream on the other. 

(Similar immigration supports and services are provided by CDETNO – with their focus on promoting, stimulating and supporting economic development among Francophones and Francophiles residents of the NWT.)

Here are some more stories of the creative people and enterprises that our territory has gained as a function of ITI’s delivery of the Nominee Program’s business stream.

Programs in Action: Bowling Alley Business is Revived

Programs in Action: Miniso Opens to Large Crowds in Yellowknife

NWT Nominee Program – Nominee Spotlight: Frank Fu, Intellibroad

ITI supports New Residents and Business