Indigenous business owner achieves dream of owning home town inn

The Nahanni inn, Fort Simpson. (Photo courtesy of Google images)

It all started when a young girl from Fort Simpson dreamed of having her own inn.

At age 13, Darlene Sibbeston, now owner of the Nahanni Inn and Maroda Enterprises, remembers thinking, “I would love to own that place.”

Sibbeston is a long time Fort Simpson local set out to keep it local and Indigenous-run, but the take over wasn’t as seamless as she would’ve hoped.

It took the crew eight days to just fully clean the kitchen.

The grease traps were full, exhaust stains covered the walls, she recalls.

Sibbeston says the rooms are so outdated and in need of repair she estimates renovations will cost her roughly $5,000 per room.

To which the Nahanni inn has 32 rooms and the Maroda has 16.

Sibbeston says she is afraid of what COVID-19 might do to her business, but “I just have to keep moving forward and trust in the region.”

Sibbeston also says she’d like to decorate the inn with historic Dehcho imagery on the walls.

“It’s about serving the community and hospitality,” says Sibbeston, and her community is proud of her for doing so.

Mayor Sean Whelly calls the inn “a fixture of the Fort Simpson service community.”

She says even Whelly visits for his morning breakfast.

Sibbeston now owns and operates two hotels, with an attached restaurant, coffee shop and several apartment complexes.

Sibbeston made her dream come true, officially taking over on Dec. 18. 2020.

She said residents and visitors can expect a new food menu and a decrease in prices in January.

About the Author

Mariah Caruso
Mariah Caruso is a digital journalist, originally from Toronto, Canada. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a Hons. Bachelor of Arts and completed her Journalism post-grad at Sheridan College. She has an insatiable appetite for life, storytelling, connecting to the people, and getting to the heart of the issue. Mariah is excited to begin her journey and career in Yellowknife, NWT, and get involved with the community. If you have a story idea, feel free to send her an email at mariah.caruso@cklbradio.com