History of
Catalyste+ North

Story and Photos by Gavin John

The North is a special place. Sweeping expanses of glittering snow swept tundra, countless passages of crystal-like ice, a sun that at times coyly dances with the horizon, and a night sky that sings in vibrant colours.



To thrive here is no small feat. The resilience and innovation are integral to the people who have called Nunavut home since time immemorial. The values of working together, with respect, dignity, and resilience, towards achievements that benefit all for the people, the land, the community. Passed down from generation to generation, these teachings permeate society. There is a name for the knowledge and mindset: Qaujimajatuqangit.

Simply put, thriving in Nunavut, can only be achieved by working together.

Since 2018, Catalyste+ has worked in partnership with the Nunavut Communities Futures Association (NCFA) to support what matters most to the Inuit and Nunavummiut. Catalyste+ has built relationships and partnerships across the territory with this year’s programming prominently in the Qikiqtaaluk, Kitikmeot and Kitikemot regions.

Formerly known as CESO, Catalyste+ brings over 50 years of experience empowering businesses, communities, and individuals across the world. Catalyste+ is proud to work with local Nunavut partners to achieve these goals together.

Respecting Others

The Nunavut Advisory and Mentorship Program (AMP) has supported dozens of entrepreneurs, organizations, and communities in the North since 2016. With guidance from local voices and partners like the NCFA, Catalyste+ has built a program that works towards the goal of resilient businesses development, economic growth, and improved employment outcomes. To these ends, a committed and passionate cohort of Catalyste+ Advisors work with businesses to help their mentees work through challenges and achieve new heights for their businesses.

Through the 6-month long program, Advisors listen and learn from their mentees on what specifics they are looking for to create resilient businesses, innovative products, and overcome challenges. Advisors meet regularly online, and even in person.

Catalyste’s AMP Advisors take to heart Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit guiding principles as a personal obligation.

“This fundamental respect for dignity and equality underpins my relationship with people.” Catalyste+ Advisor Jim Klassen says, “The goal being to develop a mentoring environment that is supportive and understanding.”

“You start with empathy.” AMP Advisor Raymond Busbridge reflects. “I believe is the basis for embodying Qaujimajatuqangit, and the mentor should not only be a listener but sometimes be prepared for slow and steady progress.”

As AMP progresses, it is becoming clear that its role goes beyond the 6-month duration, but a testament to long term commitment. In the 2024 cohort, 12 of the 18 mentees have been fostered by organizations that have previously engaged with AMP. Three of those had even participated in the 2022/23 program demonstrating a level of trust not only between mentees and the mentors, but with Catalyste+ as a whole.

Since it’s inception, AMP has become a dynamic cornerstone of Catalyste+ in the North. Each year growing from the success and lessons learned to better serve the communities and people of the North. However, it is not the only impact Catalyste+ has made to the region.

Being Open, Welcoming & Inclusive

Welcoming visitors is fundamental to the way of life in Nunavut. Despite the difficulty and distance, dozens of Catalyste+ Advisors have made the journey to Nunavut since programs began.

With that goal, Tourism to Nunavut remains the most important way for outsiders or southerners to experience the territory. In collaboration with the Government of Nunavut’s Department of Economic Development and Transportation (ED&T) the first cohort of the Inuit Tourism Business Mentorships. The program offers tailored mentorship to five Inuit owned travel businesses.

“I’d say we are good for the rest of business life!” Charlie Tautuaqjuk from Baker Lake remarked. Along with Deanna Tupic, their business, Central Tourism and Outfitting provides visitors sustainable eco-tourism tours and big game harvesting. The mentorship empowered their already present skills into a resilient business plan.

The program has delivered results that go beyond refined tourism experiences. Collaboration between Catalyste+ advisors and businesses have resulted in enhanced business planning, successful grant applications, and improved financial reporting. The diversity of companies that have benefited from the program is wide. Companies like Tikippugut Inc, offer customizable experiences like sailing through the Hudson Strait or companies like Coppermine Outfitters that offer sport hunting tours out of an intimate Bed and Breakfast in Kugluktuk. Together they will help welcome to the world to the North.

“One of the most impactful experiences that embodies the principle of being innovative and resourceful occurred during an Arctic survival course.” AMP Advisor Jim Klassen recalls an experience with a local hunter/trapper from Arviat. Embarking on a Caribou hunt, Klassen experienced firsthand the skills needed to thrive in the north. Klassen was showing how to cut snow blocks, build an igloo, and the correct way to use a stove inside, all culminating in a successful Caribou hunt. “This experience was a profound test of resilience and resourcefulness and learning to trust each other. It taught me the necessity of relying on local expertise and the wisdom of experienced individuals to survive and thrive in extreme environments.”

Decision-Making Through Discussion

Foundational to Catalyste+ is the commitment to Reconciliation with Indigenous people. To that end, Reconciliation for all is a process rather than a destination. In 2024, Catalyste+ Advisors begin to undertake the journey of understanding Inuit perspectives to ensure that their partnership is meaningful. With guidance and leadership from Northern partners, workshops were held for AMP Advisors in partnership to emphasize Inuit perspectives. Understanding the impacts of colonial practices and laws on Inuit communities, systemic racism, Inuit Culture, and Indigenous intercultural capacity are invaluable for Advisors who themselves are not from the region. Additionally, a workshop was held in 2024 exploring the complexities of running a business in the north, a region whose challenges require business innovation and resourcefulness like no other.

Catalyste+ is committed to Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples across Canada through meaningful actions and partnerships. We strive to ensure our work is aligned with what matters most to our partners and listen to how we can do better. Through supporting projects that promote economic prosperity, self-reliance, and resilient communities we look to embody the spirit of Reconciliation in everything we do.

“By weaving these principles into the fabric of our mentorship, we not only honour the rich cultural heritage of the Inuit but also foster an environment where meaningful and sustainable growth can occur.” Klassen says. “This holistic approach has shaped all of my collaborations and will continue to guide my efforts in nurturing and empowering the leaders of tomorrow.”

Reconciliation is a process that can’t be achieved without honest discussion, a willingness to listen, and a desire to understand, something Catalyste+, its programs and mentors are committed to every step of the way.

Observing, Mentoring & Practice

Running a successful business today requires an abundance of skills, all just as important as the next. An expert in one field, may not be an expert in another, When Geoff and Natalie from Kugluktuk looked to grow their business, Nunavut Qiviut, Catalyste+ and AMP stepped up by providing not one, or two mentors but four. Each empowering and enabling growth in distinct areas of business-like social media, offering expanded goods, inventory management, and online marketing. Four committed mentors with four areas of expertise that were willing and able to understand the challenges for northern businesses and help them succeed.

“This is very special and rare.” they commented “here is an organization that provides top quality mentorship that is personal.”

Like a snowball down a hill, the momentum behind the partnerships in the North has been growing in scale and commitment. Each successive year brings with it new causes to celebrate and opportunities to grow. The growth in non-profit organizations across Nunavut has identified an area for Catalyste+ to play a continued role in economic development. Together with commitments to businesses and individuals, Catalyste+ is excited to play a role in uplifting people across Nunavut for many more years to come.

Partner With Catalyste+

A partnership with Catalyste+ is an investment in an inclusive and sustainable world. We have a proven record of building successful partnerships with a variety of organizations and entities. We look forward to exploring partnership opportunities that meet your goals.

Respecting others, relationships, and caring for people.

Fostering good spirits by being open, welcoming, and inclusive.

Serving and providing for family and community.

Decision making through discussion and consensus.

Development of skills through observation, mentoring, practice, and effort.

Working together for a common cause.

Being innovative and resourceful.

Respect and care for the land, animals, and the environment.