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CanCode 1 Reflections

04 April 2019

Pinnguaq started hosting ‘Code Clubs’ in 2012 in Pangnirtung, NU. Centred around the idea that the more we could empower youth to create with technology, the more opportunities would be available and open to them in life. Over the following years, we’ve held regular events in Pangnirtung and eventually made our way to Arviat and Iqaluit.

Unfortunately, no formal funding existed to support training youth to code in Canada. We funded early code clubs under all sorts of unique envelopes, expanding their mandate to meet the needs of the various funding programs by demonstrating the positive impact coding and the use of digital technology can have on youth. Some were funded under the Department of Justice, even one under a smoking cessation strategy fund that allowed us to teach kids about coding if we would also promote a smoke-free life.

Support from the Arctic Inspiration Prize in December 2016 allowed us to expand into the Kivalliq region more but with each session remained a struggle to find financial support. That changed in early 2017 with the creation of the CanCode program by the current Government of Canada. CanCode provided a solid 2 years of funding which allowed us to grow on the vision we had created of creating a true, sustainable program.

CanCode, which ended March 31, 2019, was subsequently renewed for a new funding round in the latest annual Budget. We wanted to take a moment and reflect on the impact CanCode had on the communities we serve, what it has allowed us to accomplish as an organization, and what it can do moving forward.

CanCode supported Pinnguaq in doing the following:

  • Create 100 modules of unique, one of a kind curriculum that is now being hosted at the Pinnguaq Learning Space. This online space will continue to provide resources for those interested in developing their digital skills, we hope the resources here will only continue to grow as we can showcase what youth create with these resources.
  • Visit 15 communities in Nunavut and 7 communities Mushkegowuk Aski to deliver 1-week introduction to coding sessions. Open a permanent space for youth to explore, play and learn more about coding and digital technology. Our Makerspace in Iqaluit has been a transformational experience by employing local staff, interns and providing youth access to digital skills 7 days a week. It’s been such a success we immediately began strategizing how we could offer this opportunity in more communities.
  • Create ‘Nanili’; a unique game to teach computer programming skills to kids.
  • Hire 20 full-time staff across Canada and another 15 contractors to deliver our programming, develop modules and provide their unique take on what we do.
  • Deliver our programming to over 1500 students and 700+ teachers (and trainers) across both Nunavut and Mushkegowuk.

And so much more! Dedicated funding from the Federal Government has allowed us to get this far and we are beyond grateful. Moving forward we are looking to expand our reach into Nunavik, Labrador and NWT. Expand our programming into more rural and remote communities in the south as well. Primarily we are focused on sustainability. Supporting and advocating for ways to bring this programming into every school and into everyday life.

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