Northern News Services
The new space effectively doubles the office space of the building, adding some 3,200 square feet to the building.
Chief James Firth said the renovation cost about $600,000 and will allow room to rent out offices as well as meet the band's growing needs.
At the opening ceremony, Firth said the band has come along way in a short time.
"About 12 years ago, we started with just two rooms in the Polaris Building," Firth recalled. "Then we moved into the Boreal Books building and the old firehall."
The band has been in the new building nine years now, but has planned the expansion for about five years.
"We had more people working here and we needed space to grow, so we had to do something," he said.
The band acquired some commissioner's land adjacent to the present building and construction began last year.
"We've come a long way and it won't stop here," Firth said.
The official opening became official not with a ribbon cutting but a babiche cutting. Babiche is a strip of tanned moosehide, sinew or intestine used for sewing or as rope.
Chief Firth cut the length from a roll of babiche he was given by his grandmother, Mary Firth.
"I had a pair of old snowshoes and she knew I always like to keep them patched up pretty good," Firth said.
When it came time to open the original building, Firth remembered the babiche.
"When we had the opening, we didn't think it was a white man's day and we didn't want to open by cutting with a white man's ribbon," he said.
Fred Carmichael, Grand Chief of the Gwich'in Tribal Council, recalled the early days of the Inuvik Native Band's original office.
"We were a very small band in those days, but it kept growing and growing," Carmichael said.
"Today I'm very proud of this band and I'm very proud of the accomplishments achieved."
"As long as we work together, we can build a stronger nation and a good foundation for the future."