Justin Ferbey can speak Korean and Japanese. He has a black belt in tae kwon do and an MBA from the University of Liverpool. He could be anywhere, doing anything – yet he’s chosen to return to his roots in Carcross, Yukon, to help the little village become an economic powerhouse. As CEO of the Carcross Tagish Management Corporation – and its sole employee – he’s behind five new businesses there, plus plans for a world-class resort. Somehow, he found time to talk to Up Here.
Up Here: You were adopted out of Carcross as an infant – a fact that you learned only five years ago. Is that what prompted your homecoming?
Justin Ferbey: Well, half the community is my family, right? This is my home territory. Nothing can be more fulfilling than coming to my home community and trying to make change here.
UH: How do locals feel about it?
JF: Most if not all people are personally invested in seeing this through. To date, I’ve had a tremendous amount of support.
UH: But not from everyone.
JF: In the past, there was that “What have you done for me lately?” kind of stuff … Not long ago, there was a protest in Carcross. People were saying it was a dictatorship. But there’s not that mentality anymore.
UH: Your schedule must be insane.
JF: That’s one of the challenges. There’s no mature economy here, and you have to break the ice somehow. … This fall, maybe next year, we’ll see some returns. Maybe then we’ll hire some staff.
UH: Since moving back, you’ve reunited with long-lost relatives. What’s that been like?
JF: My cousins and uncles and aunts are in Carcross. The house I rented [when I first moved here] was this old reserve house, all beat up, holes in the walls. I got a guy to do the drywall. We found out we’re cousins. I thought I’d get a discount, but he said, “We’re not that close.”