Pitquhikhainik Ilihainik Inc. (PII) is a social enterprise founded in 2018 by the Nunavut non-profit organization Pitquhirnikkut Ilihautiniq. The company is operated by the Kitikmeot Heritage Society (KHS). As a heritage-based organization, KHS receives no core funding and relies on a grant-based funding model. Pitquhikhainik Ilihainik Inc. (which in Inuinnaqtun translates as “the sharing of cultural knowledge”) serves as an experiment in how locally driven businesses can support the Kitikmeot Heritage Society’s (and in turn the community’s) economic, social and research priorities by providing independent sources of funding for program development. The company donates 75% of its annual profits to Inuit culture and language initiatives and seeks to build and support Indigenous business networks across the Arctic and beyond. PII’s first commercial product is Kaapittiaq, an Inuit-branded line of coffee. Kaapittiaq sources its green coffee beans through direct trade with Indigenous co-ops and growers worldwide, prioritizing purchase from businesses motivated by similar values and social missions.
Kaapittiaq’s mission is to create and market a high-quality coffee, whose purchase directly contributes to creating employment and subsidizing cultural revitalization here and abroad. As a solution to the high overhead costs of Arctic import and export shipping, Kaapittiaq’s coffee is roasted and packaged in an Ontario-based facility geared towards the employment and training of urban Inuit.
Kaapittiaq, in Inuinnaqtun means “good coffee”, a reference to both the product’s taste and desired social impact. A major drive behind Kaapittiaq is to find balance between local and global scales of production. The company—guided by a predominantly Inuit board—focuses on innovative ways to support Inuit jobs, priorities and environmental values, while still relying on the harvesting, shipment, and sales of products from around the world. The company also seeks to pioneer new models for Inuit business and social enterprise development through its unconventional governance/ ownership structure, which is founded on Inuit traditions of communal decision-making and benefit.
Over the course of the coming year, Kaapittiaq will focus on increasing its company's global reach while lessening its global footprint. They are investing in more environmentally friendly solutions for becoming a greener business, ranging from the support of sustainable forms of growing, processing, and shipping their coffee beans, to the use of biodegradable packaging and more efficient distribution networks.
Kitikmeot Community Futures Inc. is pleased to support Pitquhikhainik Ilihainik Inc. and their business venture in Kaapittiaq. We look forward to helping them grow through their next phases.
Kaapittiaq can be purchased through many small business across Nunavut, or through its online store at www.kaapittiaqstore.ca.