Construction begins on Arviat modular home factory

$50M build promises jobs, training in Nunavut’s Kivalliq region; expected to employ about 40 people when complete

Construction work has started on a modular homes factory in Arviat that is expected to be operational by 2025. (Photo courtesy of Sakku Investments Corp.)

By Jeff Pelletier - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Work is underway to build a modular home factory in Arviat thanks to the arrival of construction materials on this summer’s sealift.

The $50-million project is led by Sakku Investments Corp., the business arm of the Kivalliq Inuit Association.

Sakku, the Government of Nunavut and the federal government all pitched in funding, said Guillaume Guida, Sakku’s vice-president of business development. It’s projected to be operational in 2025, according to Guida.

While the factory will help with Nunavut’s housing crisis, Guida said it will also provide benefits to the people who end up working there. It’s expected the factory will employ about 40 people once it opens.

“The first goal of this project was always to provide proper training and help increase the labour pool in the region, help increase the involvement of Inuit of our region into the construction industry,” he said in an interview.

The factory — an indoor, year-round operation — will be used to manufacture modular homes that will be shipped to communities where they will be assembled.

In what Guida described as conventional “stick-and-build” construction, workers might rush to finish during Nunavut’s short summer construction season.

That won’t be the case at Arviat’s modular home factory, he said.

“You’re not in a rush due to construction season being extremely short, you can build inside all year long,” he said, adding the end result should be better-quality homes for Nunavummiut.

Why is Arviat the location for the factory?

The hamlet’s population of 2,864, according to 2021 census data, makes it the third-largest community in Nunavut. Despite its size, said Guida, the community lacks job opportunities that nearby Rankin Inlet and Baker Lake have through Agnico Eagle’s Meliadine gold mine.

“You do have a workforce in Arviat that is eager to work,” Guida said.

“It will provide meaningful employment in the construction industry where you can go home to your family every day.”

In addition, Guida said, Sakku saw Arviat as a community that would benefit from the added housing stock created by the factory.

Joe Savikataaq Jr., Arviat’s mayor, agreed with Guida about employment challenges in his community.

He said residents welcome the factory and he’s optimistic about the jobs and training skills it will provide once it becomes operational.

Savikataaq welcomes the new homes that might arrive in his community as well as newly-trained carpenters, electricians and other skilled workers who will build them.

“I’m very looking forward to all the houses being produced and everyone else also getting their houses built in the North, for the North,” Savikataaq said.

“I’d like to thank Sakku for going to Arviat … Not only me, the whole hamlet is thankful for that.”

Guida said Sakku is working on developing training programs that will be offered onsite as construction on the factory progresses.

He said the new facility will change the way houses are built in the North, and provide community-based workers to assemble and maintain them.

“One of our goals is to show, I think eventually, that it is possible to manufacture in the North,” Guida said.

“Houses that are being built are done by Inuit, for Inuit, and not completed by remote workforce coming from an imported workforce coming from other provinces of Canada.”

 

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(12) Comments:

  1. Posted by John K on

    This is a great idea.

    I will try my best to remain cautiously optimistic about it actually being finished and then functioning as planned.

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  2. Posted by 😂 on

    😮💯

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  3. Posted by Martin Kell on

    This makes tremendous sense as long as all the parties are fully committed. It requires full buy in and 100% involvement from the local and territorial peoples.
    Proper training will be important and I suggest the group seek well established professionals who would be fully prepared to donate their time and expertise — similar as to how many organizations send these volunteers to other parts of the world ie habitat for humanity. I believe many Canadians would be delighted to perform such volunteer assignments . As to supply chain solutions and best practices again I suggest a targeted campaign to find a couple of professional partners who again would possibly provide some degree of pro bono support
    Regards

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    • Posted by We know how it’ll go on

      High paying jobs and training are almost always available but no one wants to work. We all know that folks from Arviat and Nunavut will not fill 40 jobs. The south will be called upon.

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      • Posted by Arviat rocks on

        Spoken like a true naysayer.

        Don’t worry Arviat is used to getting underestimated and our incredible workforce will make this project a home run for Sakku and KIA. They won’t regret making the investment!

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        • Posted by Let’s see what happens on

          I hope you are right, but the observation that the working culture is, broadly speaking, a little dysfunctional, is hardly a controversial one.

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          • Posted by Ken on

            I always call bs on the “nobody wants to work” nonsense, majority of Inuit would love to work, just like anyone else, the problem is there is still a lot of racism and discrimination. The deep sea port in Iqaluit as a fine example, some very qualified locals experienced terrible discrimination and racism, with no accountability whatsoever, who in their right mind would enjoy working for a company like that who can treat certain employees so terrible?
            There are so many other examples and experiences here in Nunavut, Kudlik is another one, supposedly a Inuit company that receives hundreds of million in contracts from the GN, they fly in their workers from Quebec and other places, if you want to experience real racism that’s another company to work for.
            Arviat will show that when there is a real Inuit company that respects its employees and follows labour laws they will shine and do a great job and it will show that there is major problems with how training, trades, work experiences are done by these southern companies.

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  4. Posted by Wondering on

    I wondering if it will take longer or perhaps equal amount of time for the tenants to destroy the new builds.

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  5. Posted by Holy boy on

    They won’t even go to work, they don’t want their social assistance affected and them gst

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  6. Posted by Logistics on

    I would like to see the detailed logistic of how this is going to work once the 50 plus million is spent to get the factory up and running. What kind of modular homes are going to be built? Are they going to be lifted in by cranes or put together like Lego? If by cranes very few communities have cranes of this capability. So you are going to barge materials to Arviat to build modular homes then ship them to other communities. Will the company have its own barge? If you are using barges from down south will there be enough time to go to Arviat then to other communities? Most likely a lot of the electrical, plumbing, HVAC will have to be done on site by trained workers, who is going to developed these workers especially in the smaller communities. Yes the company can build modular homes for Arviat which is great, but as for shipping them to other communities financially and logistically I don’t know how that will work out. Like many other things time will tell.

  7. Posted by Faroq on

    Hello, I am serious about working within Canadian territory. I have many professions: blacksmithing and manufacturing plastic windows, as well as aluminum windows, glass parts, and formations. I have a dream of becoming one of the skilled workers inside Canada. Please help me obtain Canadian residency. Thank you.

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  8. Posted by Monica Connolly on

    What a remarkable negative, racist attitude some of the above comments show! As far as I can see, the only outsiders needed would be a couple of qualified architects and engineers, and maybe a transport expert.
    I am so tired of reading about Inuit who don’t want to work. Workers, get a good union. Inuit are not lazy by culture, not by any means, but any culture may have trouble operating under working conditions imposed by a different culture. When I visited Clyde back in the early 70s, it was amazing how the local workers cooperated to make sure jobs got done by qualified workers if the usual guy needed to be absent. When I was an employer in Iqaluit, we had a few misunderstandings over cultural priorities, but most were a result of poor communications both ways, not laziness. A good union can stand up for workers, while helping each side understand the expectations of the other. But people who think Inuit are not good workers have not been paying attention.

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