Lindsay tech start-up awarded $1.7 million for coding programs across Nunavut, northern Ontario

By Roderick Benns

Kevin Karyak and Jasper Pootoogook work during a teach session in Baker Lake, Nunavut, March 2017.

Pinnguaq, the Arctic-inspired, Lindsay tech start-up, is being awarded $1.7 Million to develop and deliver coding programs across Nunavut and Muskegowuk Aski in Northern Ontario.

Lindsay tech start-up awarded $1.7 Million for coding programs across Nunavut, northern Ontario
Ryan Oliver.

Ryan Oliver, the owner of Pinnguaq (and tech columnist for The Lindsay Advocate), says they were selected as recipients for Canada’s new “CANCODE” program.

Delivered by the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Pinnguaq will receive a contribution that will allow for expansion of their te(a)ch program towards a sustainable coding curriculum.

How it Affects Lindsay

This funding will allow Pinnguaq to create between 4-7 jobs in Lindsay, specifically, says Oliver, jobs that will mainly be targeted at curriculum developers, tech workers and teachers.

“Most of the jobs we post are posted are in Lindsay and in Nunavut and we accept applicants from both,” he says. Qualified applicants have an option as to where they work.

Oliver has already hired three positions, since they’ve had access to the funding since November, two in Lindsay and one in Nunavut. The funding will also sustain seven existing jobs in Lindsay.

“Because of the cheaper cost of living (compared to Nunavut) much of the training and development of the curriculum we will be delivering will be done in the Lindsay area,” Oliver says.

He also notes they are developing partnerships with nearby First Nations and Inuit organizations in Toronto to offer their programming in Ontario, as a part of staff training.

“Beyond job creation, we are hoping our presence in the Kawartha Lakes to develop this program will help foster an atmosphere of innovation in the area,” Oliver tells The Lindsay Advocate.

Despite our main area of effect being Nunavut and Muskegowuk Aski regions, there will be much peripheral benefit to the Kawartha region, he notes, through testing, training and proximity.

Pinnguaq’s Deliverables

  • Development of 100 Complete Lessons​: Topics include the basics of computer engineering, coding, digital art design, 3D modeling, and game development. The te(a)ch program will provide
  • 100 pieces of ‘curriculum’ that will exist offline and online. They will be designed to enable independent learning or to be lead by clubs, teachers or community leaders.
  • Training and Community Delivery: ​ The te(a)ch program will be delivered in at least 15 communities across Nunavut and 7 across Mushkegowuk Aski. Each session focuses on a ‘train the trainer’ component to build local community capacity to deliver the program.
  • Development of a ‘Programming’ Game: ​Pinnguaq will lead the development of a unique programming game that will teach basic robotics, engineering and programming concepts. It will complement the 100 lessons created with a fun and interactive way to explore the concepts in the lessons.
Lindsay tech start-up awarded $1.7 Million for coding programs across Nunavut, northern Ontario
Brandon Bunnie of Pinnguaq works with a student in Baker Lake, Nunavut, in March, 2017.

Navdeep Bains, the minister of innovation, science and economic development, says “becoming the most innovative country begins with investing in Canadian talent.”

“Our government is committed to equipping Canadian youth with the digital skills they need for the jobs of the future,” Bains says.

“By teaching kids to code today, we’re positioning Canada for future success across all industries and sectors because these kids will facilitate digital adoption, making all Canadian industries more profitable and globally competitive,” he says.

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