Makerspace Yellowknife will soon have a headquarters for the crafting, building and repairing endeavours it promotes.
The non-profit landed around $730,000 in funding through the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor) and the GNWT, NWT MP Michael McLeod announced last week.
Makerspace president Cat McGurk said the money will go towards programming, hiring and relocating from the group’s current tool bus to a larger and more permanent space.
The new “community hub” will have a “clean shop and a dirty shop,” McGurk said, in order to keep things like woodwork and 3D printing separate. The new building, like the tool bus, will host a public space for Yellowknifers working on personal or business projects to carry out their ambitions.
Since the leasing logistics are still being worked out, McGurk couldn’t yet give details about the new community hub’s whereabouts. Regardless of its location, McGurk is committed to “building community capacity” and “giving people the confidence to learn new skills.”
To its members, Makerspace is a tool library, a project space, a workshop host and a centre for mentorship. The hub welcomes people of varying experience levels who could be looking to start a new business or just interested in picking up a hobby.
“We will put you through orientations and teach you how to use tools,” McGurk said.
She said learning hands-on skills, in whatever form that may take, creates economic opportunity in the North, “so we don’t have to depend so heavily on southern imports and the like.”
“We’ve lost the admiration that we should for craft,” she said. “Makerspace plays a really huge role in developing and building that appreciation for craft and the opportunities that come from that.”
On top of the government funding announced last week, Makerspace Yellowknife has also been nominated in the $100,000 youth programming category of the Arctic Inspiration Prize (AIP).
Makerspace’s AIP nomination proposes evening, weekend, and daytime drop-in arts programming for youth, professional artists, and individuals experiencing homelessness. AIP winners will be announced in February but McGurk said the nomination “was a well-needed injection of inspiration.”
The AIP project proposal is one that would run alongside Makerspace’s normal activities, and McGurk said it’s important for the organization to provide “an opportunity to learn in a space free of judgment.”
Anyone can become a Makerspace member free of charge, though the services provided and additional membership options may not be free. As members gain experience and skills, they are trusted with more freedom to work independently, with different tools and outside of public hours to use the resources for their own projects.
Along with the new hub, McGurk said the government funding will allow the organization to hire two full-time staff members.
Makerspace Yellowknife has been a volunteer board since its inception.
With the promise of the new hires in the near future, McGurk said she’s “looking forward to focusing back on workshopping instead of having to work on proposals.”