Lindsay’s Pinnguaq wins Smart Cities Challenge $10 million prize

By Roderick Benns

Pinnguaq has grown to act as the major provider of technological education and digital exposure in Nunavut.

Lindsay’s Pinnguaq Association, in collaboration with the Nunavut Association of Municipalities (NAM), and the Embrace Life Council and Qaujigiartiit Health Research, has won one of two $10 million prizes through the Canadian government’s Smart Cities Challenge.

The Advocate caught up with Ryan Oliver, director of Pinnguaq, shortly after their prize was accepted in Ottawa. Would there be any benefit to Lindsay and area as well, we wanted to know.

Ryan Oliver waits patiently to see if Pinnguaq would win the $10 million prize.

“This is 100 per cent money for Nunavut,” says Oliver, “specifically to support community Makerspaces across the territory.”

Makerspaces are hubs of learning, creativity, and innovation.

“There will be some spin-off ultimately in Lindsay with jobs (and) sustaining existing administrative positions while we set up and build support for the entity that will run these spaces,” he adds.

Oliver says this is more than just a Pinnguaq project, because they partnered with the Nunavut Association of Municipalities, Qaujigiartiit Health Research and Embrace Life Council.

“Our four organizations are going to work to build a new governance structure based in Nunavut that focuses on the Makerspaces themselves. The impact is going to be massive and Lindsay, simply by hosting Pinnguaq and some of our staff will see benefit as we work to replicate this outside of the territory as well.”

Oliver says now that their project has a full $10 million dedicated towards it, part of what they will be doing is moving forward to double, “and ideally triple that amount.”

The director gives most of the credit for the win to Maria Coates, who moved to Lindsay about a year ago to join the team. “She worked for six straight months getting this ready.”

According to their website, Pinnguaq Association is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to embrace and use technology as a means of unifying and enabling Nunavummiut and Indigenous people in Canada. The organization works to incorporate play and gaming into various applications and endeavours that benefit education, economic development, and cultural expression.

Pinnguaq has grown to act as the major provider of technological education and digital exposure to the territory of Nunavut. Its mandate is to foster the development of interactive experiences that push the limits of technology and cultural expression to strengthen capacity and build projects across the territory.

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