Tanner leading programming at the Iqaluit Makerspace.

Lifecycle Superstar – Tanner Big Canoe

An infographic with Tanner Big Canoe written on the one half with a blue backgorund and then on the right side a photo of Tanner

What is a Lifecycle Superstar? Pinnguaq’s work is based on our Lifecycle model, and designed to engage learners at multiple stages in their personal growth and success. People connect with Pinnguaq in multiple ways, including as program participants, as Interns, and as staff creating projects and programs. They are Superstars, and we are excited to share their stories.

Tanner Big Canoe first joined Pinnguaq as a new staff member while still in high school. With an interest in coding and video game design, Tanner was an ideal instructor for a new Kawartha Lakes Makerspace. Through his experience, Tanner has been able to grow as a teacher and a leader, and has advanced to become an invaluable Digital Skills Teacher as he pursues a degree in Computer Science at Queen’s University.


How did you first connect with Pinnguaq?

In High School, I took an introduction to game design course mostly as an easy elective at the time, but I ended up really enjoying programming. After this I began to look for very entry level positions where I could be part of an organization where work like this was being done.

In October 2019, at the start of my final year of High School, I was lucky enough to know someone who knew Ryan (Pinnuguaq’s CEO) and also knew I had a love for both teaching and all things tech. They put me in contact with Ryan and he was kind enough to give me an interview even though I lacked both a programming and teaching background. This was right around the time the Makerspace was opening in Lindsay, and so Ryan offered me a position as the Makerspace Assistant sitting alongside our great program educators.

This position was awesome, both learning from our educators on topics I didn’t even know existed, as well as being part of the community the Makerspace was beginning to create.

Summer students in a zoom meeting.

What has been your favourite experience at Pinnguaq?

There have been many, but I think that being part of the community, both in the workplace and as a learner would take it. The staff we have are all awesome, and by all, I mean I have yet to meet anyone who hasn’t taught me something, or had a positive impact in some way. This has really made working here an awesome experience. Then also, the relationships and community we form with the groups we work with.

Whether it was when the Makerspace was open (pre-COVID-19) and we had kids in for Techxploration, or the change to online programs (due to the pandemic), it was always great to watch not only groups learning what we taught them, but also connecting with both the staff and each other.