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Oonark Centre reaches milestone

Company celebrates 10th year of operation

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

Baker Lake (Apr 03/02) - Jessie Oonark Ltd. of Baker Lake is celebrating its 10-year anniversary in business this month.

Located at Baker's Jessie Oonark Centre, the company falls under the umbrella of the Nunavut Development Corporation (DevCorp).

Manager Paul Kabloona says the company really started taking off once it was transferred from the old NWT Development Corp. to DevCorp.

Jessie Oonark Ltd. employs five people on a full-time basis. A silkscreen specialist, its product line includes greeting cards, T-shirts, ties and scarves.

Kabloona has been with the company for the past nine years and says business is continuing its upward trend of the past few years.

"We have a pretty high profile down South now," says Kabloona. "We have Tom Chapman in Mississauga, Ontario, who distributes our products across the country from a warehouse there. We also have outlets at Queen's Quay and the International Airport in Toronto."

The company is currently working on an order for 1,400 greeting cards.

Kabloona says Jessie Oonark Ltd. also fills a number of small contracts throughout the Kivalliq Region every year.

He says the company has started printing silk scarves and its ties are in such high demand he doesn't have any in his Baker location.

"Some of the more popular designs with our product line feature polar bears, the inukshuk, drum dancing and spear-throwers. The Nunavut flag, itself, is fairly popular on our greeting cards and on a number of our T-shirts."

Kabloona says Jessie Oonark Ltd.'s goal is to continue to see modest growth gains on a yearly basis.

"We've seen a nice increase in our sales during the past two years and we're cautiously optimistic the upward trend will continue. Nunavut products are fairly popular in the South right now," he says.

"We're also hoping the printmakers, who used to be in our building, will find the necessary funding they need to start up their operations here again."