Makerspace Ecosystem Project

Welcome to the Makerspace Ecosystem Project led by Aurora Research Institute. Makerspaces are a collaborative workspaces equipped with tools where individuals create, learn, and work on projects ranging from crafts to handcrafted furniture.

Our goal is to establish vibrant, educational, and community-driven makerspaces across 11 Northwest Territories (NWT) communities. We are passionate about creating environments that increase economic development: build capacity and innovation; celebrate creativity; and serve as communal hubs for collaboration and learning.

Our Goals

We aim to involve 11 communities across NWT in this initiative.

The two main objectives are:

  1. To support communities and local organizations as they respond to local interest in makerspaces, and develop programming and training geared to the interests of local artists, craftspeople, and entrepreneurs. Staff will also support the funding application process that will enable the growth and sustainability of community-based programs.
  2. To coordinate centralized support for community-led initiatives. Project staff provide operational support to enable the success and sustainability of each community-led initiative. Staff offer support for equipment use and maintenance, purchases, in-person and remote services, and training to communities

Each Makerspace is a collaborative endeavour with their respective community. Our aim is to foster community partnerships and curate relevant programs. Aurora Research Institute’s role is to facilitate the set-up with interested communities, leveraging our expertise from past Makerspace projects and program delivery.

Current Operations

As of now, these communities have operational makerspaces:

  1. Inuvik (INNOVATE): Our Inuvik location is our flagship Makerspace, equipped with a variety of state-of-the-art tools from including laser cutters; direct to film printers; sublimation kits; 3D printers; a full-service woodshop; silk screening; and CNC milling. Several clients have used INNOVATE to launch small businesses, boosting the local economy.
  2. Fort Smith: The Fort Smith Makerspace is located at Aurora College’s Thebacha Campus and has tools for applying sublimation designs to personalise drink ware, small gifts, and textiles; vinyl cutters; laser engraver and cutter; hand tools; and sewing machines. Varied workshops are delivered including fur workshops, upcycling, custom wooden sign-making, and more!
  3. Fort Simpson: Located in Aurora College’s Community Learning Centre. Recent workshops include heat transfer vinyl custom t-shirts, personalized mug making, and pyrography (wood burning) art.
  4. Tuktoyaktuk: Located in Aurora College’s Community Learning Centre in partnership with the Tuktoyaktuk Community Corporation. Equipment and supplies available for vinyl cutting, sublimation design transfer, laser cutting,  paper arts, personalized mug making, and pyrography (wood/leather burning).
  5. Tsiigehtchic: Located in Aurora College’s Community Learning Centre. Equipment and supplies available for vinyl cutting, sublimation design transfer, laser cutting, paper arts, personalized mug making, and pyrography (wood/leather burning).
  6. Norman Wells: Recent workshops include custom greeting cards and personalized t-shirt making. The space is located in the Historical Society’s Museum and currently equipped for vinyl/paper cutting and embossing, pyrography (wood burning) art, and manufacturing customizable good with sublimation.
  7.  Ulukhaktok: Located in Aurora College’s Community Learning Centre. Equipment and supplies available for vinyl cutting, sublimation design transfer to customize goods and pyrography.
  8. Yellowknife: Located in its own building near the centre of the city. Split into three areas: the wood shop for wood working and painting; the hack space for laser cutting, 3d printing, and circuitry; and the art space for gatherings, sewing, and other hand made products. Makerspace YK is its own independent non-profit organization, but collaborates with ARI in program delivery and resource development.

Some communities are in the planning and development stages. These makerspaces will be tailored to feature equipment suited to local needs and resources. Planned community workshops have been occurring throughout the program and are expected to ignite learning and creativity, enabling members to bring ideas to life.

Resource Development

Our Makerspace Ecosystem is working in partnership with NWT Literacy Council, Makerspace YK, independent makerspace users in the NWT, and Pinnguaq - a national organization that supports makerspace development in remote/rural areas in Canada. We aim to create NWT-focused resources to aid communities in the growth of their spaces.


Our Makerspace Ecosystem was established in partnership with project based financial support from CanNor, GNWT, NSERC, and Aurora College.

Get Involved

We invite community members, leaders, educators, and local businesses to collaborate with us. Your involvement can help shape the Makerspace in your community and contribute to the broader objective of fostering a culture of innovation and lifelong learning across the NWT.

Contact Us

For more information, questions, or to get involved, please contact Jennifer Rafferty, Manager of the Makerspace Ecosystem:

Thank you for your interest in the Aurora Research Institute Makerspace Ecosystem. Together, we can build spaces that inspire, educate, and empower our communities!