Pinnguaq, which means play in Inuktitut, was created in 2012 as a Pangnirtung, Nunavut-based technology startup with the goal of providing play experiences in Indigenous languages. In the early years, we focused primarily on game development and localization. We partnered with developers to translate their existing games into Inuktitut—localizing games such as Mushroom 11, Ittle Dew, and Osmos. We also developed our own games, apps, and services. By creating experiences in someone’s first language, we aimed to empower a new generation to create original experiences in their languages—reflecting their reality.
Our education programming, first known as Code Club (and later as te(a)ch), began as a community-supported initiative in Pangnirtung. Since 2014, sessions have been delivered in communities across Nunavut, Ontario, and Quebec. In 2016 te(a)ch was kickstarted by receiving the Arctic Inspiration Prize and has since made great gains in capacity.
As the organization continued to grow during this time, we were named Best Social Enterprise North and Best Social Enterprise Canada Wide at the 2017 Startup Canada Awards.
Through funding received by the federal program CanCode, te(a)ch sessions ran in approximately 25 communities in northern Canada in 2018. Participants in Nunavut also left the program with their own free refurbished laptops through partnership with Computers for Success Nunavut. In addition to administering learning sessions, 100 lessons of curriculum were made available online through our website. Our curriculum is designed to be led by clubs, teachers, and leaders—or to enable independent learning. Content covers a wide range of topics from basic coding to 3D modeling.
From creating custom games to preparing educational curriculum, the work we do is varied from project to project. Everything is tied together to reflect our mission through the phases of our learning life cycle.
Education: From introductory coding sessions to advanced art tutorials, we administer a variety of STEAM-related learning opportunities, while also training teachers and developing curriculum on digital skills. Education has been our strength since our first Code Club in early 2014 and remains a key priority of our work.
Resources: Through our Makerspaces, curriculum, games, apps, and programs (like Computers for Success Nunavut), we aim to provide the resources needed to learn to use technology. These digital tools enable our participants to take advantage of the benefits technology can offer.
Mentorship: We are committed to developing meaningful mentorship opportunities through the programs we administer. Supporting an individual’s learning journey is another key aspect of our work. We do this through the Digital Skills for Youth program and our Twitch streaming, as well as by supporting communities to increase their capacity in local digital programming.
Employment: We act as organization for internship programs designed to youth to gain meaningful work experience and digital skills. In addition, we support and create employment opportunities in the communities we serve.
Production: We aim to provide a space for production that takes ideas from planning to fruition. We have put this into practice by localizing existing games into Inuktitut and creating original apps, games, and websites based on our ideas or those of others.
Advocacy: Perhaps the most important phase of our life cycle is the advocacy work we do to create and promote access to digital technology. We support a North > South knowledge transfer, development of local digital resources, and a unique but equal role for rural communities at the tech table.