Team Canada delegates make business connections in Germany

Two Nunavut companies sign distribution agreements



Two Nunavut businessmen signed agreements for future business deals while in Germany this week as part of the Team Canada trade mission.

Brian Schindel of Kivalliq Foods Inc. formed the beginnings of a formal business deal with an import/export agent in Germany to distribute Nunavut char products throughout Germany and other German-speaking countries.

Photographer Hans Blohm signed a contract to distribute his book, The Voice of the Natives: From the Canadian North to Alaska within Germany.

Nunavut Premier Paul Okalik, as well as Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and International Trade Minister Pierre Pettigrew were present for the signing of the agreements. “We congratulated the chairmen,” Okalik said.

The 10-day trade mission began last week in Moscow, Russia. Delegates travelled this week to the German cities of Berlin and Munich. Each province and territory was invited to bring a delegation of businesspeople and cultural representatives.

Nunavut’s delegation of 16 included Tom Chapman, the marketing manager of Nunavut Development Corporation; Sylvia Ivalu, the lead actress of Atanarjuat; a pair of throat singers; and several representatives from the department of sustainable development.

One of the main goals of the trip was to promote Nunavut as an exotic tourist spot for German travellers, who are known for their enthusiasm for adventure travel.

The trade mission was as much about cultural promotion as it was about business. While in Berlin, Okalik hosted a day-long program showcasing Inuit culture. In addition to the throat singing presentation, models showed off the Government of Nunavut’s sealskin coat collection.

“Germany loves aboriginal culture,” Okalik said. During dinner one night, the premier said, Gerhard Schroeder, the German chancellor, expressed an interest in Inuit art.

The trip has also been an enlightening experience for Okalik. “I never thought I would meet the former secretary general of the Soviet Union — Gorbechev,” he said. “It’s something you don’t expect, but you get to do.”

But meeting Mikhail Gorbechev was nothing compared to meeting the stars of Russia’s hockey history. “I met some of the former hockey players from the ‘72 series,” he said, referring to the infamous playoffs between Canada and Russia. “Being a hockey fan, that was a real treat for me.”

Despite his fleeting moments of fun, the premier said the trip had been quite busy. “One negative part of the trip is that we’re so busy and so focused on what we have to do here, I haven’t been able to see Germany at all,” he said.

“That will have to wait for when I’m a tourist.”

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