Getting a spark for it

When Josh Tartak incorporated his electrical business this summer, he was in Winnipeg waiting for the birth of his son.

Since then, the 28-year-old, born and raised in Rankin Inlet, has had a busy life.

“It’s been amazing how much work has come to me since I started,” said Tartak, a Red Seal electrician and father to a four-month-old and two-year-old, who opened his business Nunavut Electric Ltd. in June.

He was talking to Kivalliq News after returning from a job in Coral Harbour. He’s also done work for the Hamlet of Rankin Inlet, Sakku Properties, homeowners in town and assisted with Nunavut Arctic College’s house build, where he instructed students on electrical work.

“It was a challenge trying to oversee 14 students brand new to construction,” said Tartak, adding they were all eager and picked it up quickly.

Between family and work, he’s loaded with responsibility now, but that wasn’t his original idea.

“I had this whole plan when I was a kid,” said Tartak about getting a secure job with government.

He originally wanted to be a carpenter, until a career day in high school inspired him to follow in his older brother’s footsteps as an electrician.

“That was the whole reason why I became an electrician,” he said. “Ever since that day, it switched me over from wanting to be a carpenter to being an electrician.”

He started as an apprentice and eventually earned his Red Seal certificate. After working for government and in the private sector, Tartak decided to pursue his own venture with Nunavut Electric Ltd.

“It has a little bit of everything,” said Tartak about electrical work. “You really have to use your head when it comes to planning out and implementing an electrical system. You get a good mix of both worlds, whether you like working with your hands or using your head.”

Since opening his business, he’s had “tons and tons” of work.

“The field work is what I’ve expected it to be, but the special challenge for running a small start-up company like this is all the paperwork, all the accounting,” he said. “It’s very important to stay on top of that.”

Scheduling has been another learning curve.

Tartak takes pride in his work and is aware the buck stops with him now when it comes to his final products.

“Working by yourself, you’re bound to your own workmanship,” he said. “You have no safety net. Everything’s on you. What you put up is your work.”

He was especially thankful to his parents and partner for supporting him.

“They are the biggest help,” said Tartak. “I wouldn’t be able to do any of this without them.”

Tartak wants to send a message that Inuit are capable.

“There’s so much potential out there, lots of hidden potential,” he said, adding that he wants to give young Inuit the same opportunities he had.

“We are able to do all this by ourselves. We will get to that point where Nuanvut’s a lot more self-sustaining and we won’t need any fly-in contractors, for the most part.”

For anyone interested in pursuing a similar path, Tartak said it’s very rewarding and only takes four years, and once you’re certified, “no one can take that away from you. You’ll be set for life for work.”

Stewart Burnett, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kivalliq News