In August 2020, the Department of ITI, in partnership with the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor), launched the Growth and Recovery by Investing in Tourism (GRIT) Fund to help tourism-focused operators and organizations in the NWT deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and adapt and position their operations for future growth.
These are their stories…
Sometimes when life throws an obstacle in your way, it turns into an opportunity to grow and expand. The team at the Sundog Trading Post has used the downtime created by the COVID-19 pandemic to re-invent their tourism business in Yellowknife’s old town.
The vision for the Sundog Trading Post has always been to transform their tourism hub into an informal gathering spot for visitors complete with a sit-down café. In the absence of out-of-town tourists, this year owners, Richard McIntosh and Christine Wenman decided to make the development of their café a priority.
Support from the GRIT Fund allowed them to bring their building up to code so that they could make and sell food. They were also able to invest in Yellowknife’s first ever batch freezer and blast freezer.
The freezers allow Sundog to create artisanal, hard-scooped, homemade ice cream with northern forged flavors like birch syrup, wild mint, and cranberries. Sundog is the only commercial venture in Yellowknife making ice cream from scratch.
Of course, you can’t have ice cream without a waffle cone so they are making those in-house too. Their plans include offering cookies, muffins and even a small hot foods menu featuring paninis (made with in-café baked fresh bread), soups and salads.
A new vision is emerging for McIntosh and Wenman; to turn the Sundog Trading Post into an evening dessert place - another first-of-its-kind in Yellowknife.
Adapting to new circumstances is a difficult task for any business, especially the tourism sector. Thanks to some creative thinking, hard work and GRIT, the Sundog Trading Post is now embarking on a brand new chapter for their business.
The GRIT Fund was both increased and extended before closing in October, 2020. More than 90 individuals and companies have received contributions designed to adapt and position their operations for the future
– Braeden Cordero