For almost 50 years, (Est. 1976) the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies (SIIT) has been growing its programs and services to support the individual goals of over 66,000 alumni representing all 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan. As one of only four accrediting post-secondary institutions in Saskatchewan and the only Indigenous institution in that number, it is all the more important that SIIT’s programs are developed with service to community at their center.
Indigenous worldview is foundational to all curriculum development and that commitment can be seen in programs as diverse as the Mental Health & Wellness Program that supports National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program (NNADAP) members and counsellors in First Nation communities to the Aircraft Maintenance Engineering program that ensures rural and remote communities have safe and reliable essential transportation routes.
SIIT is no stranger to program evolution but in 2021, the Institute adopted a bold new direction focusing on the creation and support of an Innovation ecosystem provincial in scope to ensure Indigenous people were not just participating in the new technology economy but driving it!
This included the development of pawâcikêwikamik: the Innovation Collective. Not just an accelerator on incubator but a collection of community-driven initiatives in STEAM, entrepreneurship and developing technologies created by First Nations for First Nations. Over the past two years, this collective has grown to include a Mobile Makerlodge with six tech kits delivered and supported in First Nations for community-based projects, youth camps, an Auntie-in-Residence program, Micro-grants for entrepreneurs, a credit entrepreneurship program, and this month, the launch of the pawâcikêwikamik: the Nutrien MakerLodge and the pawâcikêwikamik: Canadian Tire Collaboration Space. Situated on the 1st Floor of SIIT’s downtown Saskatoon Campus, these spaces and services support entrepreneurs through the full development process of their businesses. Entrepreneurs can access 3-D printing farms, glo-forges, hydroponics and a 19’ LED Video wall for film production.
This work could not have been possible without the support of Sustainable Development and Technologies Canada, Prairies Economic Development and Crown Investment Corporate, SaskPower, SaskEnergy, SaskTel and many more sponsors that committed to economic reconciliation through their partnerships.
Officially launching on June 27th, we welcome everyone in the C2R2 community to come to our Open House from 1-5 p.m. to play with some exciting tech and meet representatives of the 17 businesses started so far and the over 60 First Nations who have engaged in pawâcikêwikamik activities.