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Leena Evic

The Pirurvik Centre (Iqaluit, NU)

Leena Evic has been an advocate for the Inuktitut language and culture as long as she can remember. As a young girl, Leena loved the beauty and subtlety of Inuktitut and recognized its importance as a foundation for culture. Today, Leena is co-owner of the Pirurvik Centre (PC), established in 2003 as an on-the-land retreat grounded in Inuit culture. “A Place of Growth,” the Iqaluit-based company focuses on three main areas – Inuit language, culture and well-being.

PC is a social entrepreneurship company – the centre has a strong social basis but operates under a business model. This model allows them to apply their core values to their work in a sustainable way and allows the flexibility to give time to social projects close to their hearts.

The company doesn’t spend a lot of effort on marketing. They are quite selective about their work and a good flow of opportunities is provided word-of-mouth from happy clients.

For Leena, elders have been primary role models and mentors. Much of the inspiration for her work comes from elders. The reward she receives from her work comes largely from working with elders who are a rich resource for a complex language full of ancestral knowledge.

A key to success has been finding a business partner that complements her skills and interests. Together, they are able to achieve much more than they could individually. Her experience as a teacher and an instructor in small business management provides the business skills needed to operate. She is also responsible for most of the language and cultural content of PC products and services. Her partner balances this knowledge with valuable technical and creative skills.

Some of the biggest challenges Leena has faced with her business are meeting project deadlines. She also notes that it can be difficult to find funding for business expansion. There are often funds available, but the paperwork can seem complex, frustrating and requires a lot of running around to get information to different funding agencies. As with many small businesses, Leena uses an accountant for her taxes, although she has a good understanding of the tax process.

For Leena, the many challenges of operating a business are outweighed by the benefits. Every day she gets to do something she loves. She chose the business she is in because she had a strong desire to preserve the Inuit language and culture. Leena never aspired to work as an employee and now feels her work is greatly rewarding. While other business people work with the hope of retiring or selling their business, Leena has no interest in retiring – she likes her work too much.

Reflecting on her experience in business, Leena had the following advice:

“Maintaining a balance in your life is critical to success in all ways. You need to take care of yourself physically, mentally and spiritually.”
Practice what you preach and “Walk your Talk.” Maintain your integrity in business and the market will find you.