Northern Co-operative Galleria

Research Topic Full Title: 
The Northern Co-operative Galleria
Creator - Author(s) Name and Title(s): 
Jen Alsop, SERNNoCA researcher
Friday, January 1, 2010
Northern Canada

Introduction to the Northern Co-operative Galleria Project

In the late 1950s to early 1970s, then-titled Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (DIAND) pursued a policy of co-operative development in the newly settled, predominantly Inuit and First Nation communities of the Northwest Territories. Today, the majority of these community-based co-operatives are thriving, through the continued support of Arctic Co-operatives Limited (ACL), the main umbrella co-operative providing a number of financial services, and support to all community-based co-operatives in the system.  Northern community co-operatives continue to supply much-needed goods and services to communities, ensuring that profits remain in the communities, all the while providing a venue for local people to become involved in the economic development planning of their communities.  Across NWT and Nunavut, over 800 people are employed in community-based co-operatives. They remain one of the largest private-sector employers in the north. The history, development and continued sustainability of the northern co-operative system, is a fascinating example of the resiliency of the people residing the Canada's northern territories, to make ends meet in an isolated, and demanding environmental climate. Most would live their lives no other way, feeling an inextricable connection to the beauty and harshness of the windswept tundra that they call home.

Types of services provided by northern community-based co-operatives:

  • Retail,
  • Hotel,
  • Cable,
  • Post-office,
  • Fuel distribution,
  • Big ticket (yamaha),
  • Arts and crafts,
  • Restaurant,
  • Heavy equipment,
  • Property rentals,
  • Other rentals,
  • Freight contracts,
  • Airline comm.,
  • NTPC contract,
  • HTA Nunavut,
  • Other contracts,
  • Calling cards,
  • Convenience store.


Field-work was undertaken at the headquarters for Arctic Co-operatives Ltd, January 2010, in Winnipeg. Interviews with current and former ACL staff were made, and an extensive document/ literature search was conducted of ACL's files.  In addition, a relevant literature search was undertaken at the Indian and Northern Affairs library, as well as at the headquarters of the Canadian Co-operative Association, in Ottawa. 


Information gathered through interview and literature/document reviews pertains to individual community co-operatives in the Arctic. In particular, information with regards to both the history of the co-op and the community; biographies of key individuals and the nature of their contributions to the co-op in question; a time-line of key historical events in the community and a bibliography of literature on each community are included. 

Community Co-operatives

Over the next several months, write-ups on the following northern community-based co-operatives will be added:

  • Great Bear Co-op Association, Deline NWT
  • Holman Eskimo Co-operative, Ulukhaktok, NWT
  • Igloolik Co-operative Ltd, Igloolik NU
  • Ikaluktutiak Co-operative Ltd, Cambridge Bay, NU
  • Issatik Eskimo Co-operative, Whale Cove, NN
  • Kapami Co-operative Association, Colville Lake, NWT
  • Qikiqtaq Co-operative Association, Gjoa Haven, NU
  • Sanavik Co-operative Association, Baker Lake, NU
  • Tetlit Service Co-operative Ltd, Fort McPherson, NWT
  • Tununiq Sauniq Co-operative Ltd, Pond Inlet, NU
  • West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative, Cape Dorset, NU
  • Kimik Co-operative Ltd, Kimmirut, NU
  • Kissarvik Co-operative Association, Rankin Inlet, NU
  • Koomiut Co-operative Association, Kugaaruk, NU
  • Mitiq Co-operative Association, Sanikiluaq, NU
  • Naujat Co-operative, Repulse Bay, NU
  • Yellowknife Direct Charge Co-operative, Yellowknife, NWT