A dark building with snow on the ground, where the Iqaluit Makerspace is.

The Iqaluit Makerspace at September 2020

September 17, 2020

10 Minutes


About the author

Pinnguaq Association, a not-for-profit organization, incorporates STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) into unique learning applications that promote storytelling, health, wellness and growth with rural and remote communities. At its core, Pinnguaq embraces diversity and creates opportunities in order to empower all people.

In March 2020 we, like the rest of the world, had to pause, pivot and innovate on the way we serve communities in light of the Covid-19 epidemic.  Our focus remained on developing S.T.E.A.M educational resources for rural and remote communities across Canada. Between April and June 2020 we saw over 8000 learners and educators from across the country take advantage of the @ Home initiative – which saw our staff across the country develop 92 brand new modules and pieces of curriculum, paired with the formal release of Nanili and Gon’ Phishing, which are educational game tools for coding and web safety, respectively.

One area we couldn’t maintain during the pandemic has been our in person programming, specifically the Makerspace programs.  As we continue through September, we wanted to provide an update on the original Makerspace, the Iqaluit Makerspace and what the plans are moving forward.

The Current Situation

We were overjoyed when we were able to take over 1412 Sikituuq Dr in Iqaluit.  It provided us more space and saw us running after-school programming daily.  That space had to close, as did most of the world in March 2020 and it’s been a hard road back.  Unfortunately, under recommended physical distancing rules the most kids and instructors we would be able to host in the actual space would be 4 learners and 2 instructors, a far cry from the high of 30+ learners we saw in the early parts of 2019.

At the same time our staffing has been in flux.  Some staff have left for other opportunities, some we have moved on, as a result of the change in circumstances caused by the pandemic.

What The Iqaluit Makerspace Is

In the absence of a physical space where we can gather in person, the Iqaluit Makerspace aims to be an online force for learners in the community.  The Pinnguaq Digital Skills Club, run in partnership with Skills Nunavut worked this summer and aims to continue throughout September to offer lessons and challenges online for digital skills learners.  Through the Computers For Success Nunavut program we have supplied the Makerspace  computers to programs run by Qikiqtani Industries and Umingmak Centre in Iqaluit.

We have collaborated with our Makerspaces across the country to run @ Home programming and are planning more in the coming weeks.

It’s a far cry from where we imagined ourselves for in person programming, but we’re proud of the effort the team has put together to serve Iqaluummiut.

What The Makerspace Will Be

Moving forward we are working rapidly to staff the Makerspace and determine what role it will play in the community.  As we finalize our five year strategic plan, grow our board of directors and continue to expand across Nunavut and Canada our focus is on growing partnerships and putting to use our resources (both physical and human) to support the community and those who need them most.

What does that mean;

  • 1412 Sikituuq Drive is becoming the headquarters for Computers for Success Nunavut and in the coming weeks will see staff begin a project to eliminate e-waste in territory by refurbishing computers in Iqaluit for use across Nunavut. 
  • As we restaff the Makerspace with educators, our focus will be in programming outside of our small space and in community.  Contract us and look for our educators collaborating in schools, training teachers and in programs serving community groups who need us the most.
  • Our staff continue to develop and promote a robust online presence, growing on our 150+ individualized learning opportunities, as well as regular online events which will continue to grow. In person programming at the Iqaluit Makerspace will return sooner than later and jobs to support that programming are regularly posted on our website.

1412 Sikituuq Drive is also becoming the headquarters of two other major initiatives we are involved in.

  • Check out the Digital Skills For Youth Program if you are interested up to $22,500 in funding for interns applying digital skills in your organization.  A half dozen Iqaluit based organizations have already taken advantage of this opportunity.
  • The Katinnganiq Makerspace Network is a Smart Cities Challenge Initiative that Pinnguaq is a ¼ partner with the Nunavut Association of Municipalities, The Qaujigiartiit Health Research Centre and the Embrace Life Council.  Towards the end of 2020 we expect the first position to be posted and hosted out of 1412 Sikituuq Dr, as we work to support the expansion of digital skills across Nunavut.

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