May Hakongak Centre 2 by Edward Allen Ja


In 1999, our Cambridge Bay headquarters were destroyed when a fire engulfed the High School in which we were located. Over the next three years, we laid plans and garnered community support for the construction of offices, a heritage centre and community library as part of the new high school’s infrastructure. We raised 1.8 million dollars towards custom designing of a state-of-the-art library, museum, and archives accompanied by an environmentally controlled collections storage room. This space was completed in 2002 and is called the May Hakongak Library and Cultural Centre. Since that time, we independently staffed and financially supported the centre, its research and programming through ongoing fundraising and grants.


Having reached our 20th anniversary as an organization in 2016, we began to dream of a new, stand-alone facility in Cambridge Bay.  The size of the May Hakongak Centre has begun to limit the number and type of programs our rapidly growing organization can offer. A dedicated space is needed to concentrate the resources, expertise and technology so critical to Inuinnait cultural survival and renewal.​ We dreamt of creating a building that was specifically designed to fit the cultural needs of Inuinnait, and which could help us restore the traditional ecosystem of Inuinnait language, culture and relationships across the region by serving as a centralized hub to coordinate the production, documentation, and mobilization of knowledge.  








  • Drafting of new 5-year Strategic Plan to transition the organization into its new mission to at a regional level.

  • Development of a social enterprise wing for PI/KHS called Pitquhikhainik Ilihainiq Inc. to build Inuit capacity and partnerships for entrepreneurship, and develop a more sustainable revenue stream.  The company's first product is called Kaapittiaq.

  • Development of a dedicated philanthropy program for PI/KHS

  • Development of customized Inuit collections management software to facilitate collective Inuinnait access to PI/KHS archives, and cultural content sourced through digital returned from museums and archives around the world. 

  • Partnership with NRCan to develop 3 year climate change monitoring study to assess regional archaeological and heritage sites at risk through landscape instability. This project has helped us strengthen our role in understanding and dealing with climate change concerns. 

  • Creation of a research partnership with SAIT GBT to develop a pre-feasibility study for our new facility. 

  • Securing of $500,000 in seed funding for a building feasibility study through a territorial IIBA. 

  • Creation of a research partnership with Blue Sky Engineering to conduct an energy inventory of the existing May Hakongak facility, a carbon audit for our organization as a whole, and a strategy to build our leadership in addressing Arctic climate change through the creation of a 10 year climate action plan. 

  • Collaborating with the Shelters for a Thawing Arctic architecture program to document Inuinnait building practices.

  • Securing of IIBA funding for initial concept development for a new Inuinnait Knowledge Centre. 

  • Outlining of key challenges and targets to define the creation of a future facility, including scalability of technologies and design, prioritization of green energy infrastructure, and Indigenous-informed architecture. 

  • Creation of 5 year Archives Strategic Plan to scale towards the creation of a new facility. This plan forefronts the total digitization of PI/KHS' regional archives for increased access to all Inuinnait communities.  

  • Drafting of an initial project Concept Paper to assess local and regional Inuinnait research priorities, outline an Inuinnait research strategy, and investigate building costs/lessons learned from recent Arctic infrastructure programs.    

  • Revision of pre-feasibility plans and timing based on covid-19 restrictions to travel and engagement.

  • Revision of energy audit and climate action plan program based on covid-19 restrictions to travel and engagement.

  • Securing of Government of Nunavut and NorthernREACHE funding to embed a green energy consultant in Cambridge Bay to begin building community engagement, project training, and mentorship.


  • Begin monitoring of May Hakongak Centre to develop baseline data for our organizational energy profile

  • Assessing organization-wide carbon inventory for PI/KHS.

  • Working with PI/KHS board, staff and community members to develop a climate action strategy.

  • Sourcing and applying for funding to develop a formal feasibility study for the Inuinnait Knowledge Centre. 



  • Hosting multiple workshops and interviews in Cambridge Bay to build and document local knowledge surrounding cultural design, local building materials, existing green energy use, and local experiences of contemporary housing.  

  • Working with local youth to develop a green energy themed podcast.

  • Hosting of multiple workshops to document Inuinnaqtun concepts and terminology for environmental phenomena, and green/sustainable energy practices. 

  • Beginning to connect SAIT students, staff and engineers with local students and industry partners to establish formal and informal training and mentorship programs. 

  • Developing a case studies and research communications to strengthen an Arctic community of practice surrounding infrastructure sustainability. 


  • Conducting workshops with industry experts and community members to design a modular building (less than 1,000 sq. feet) for a pilot trail in Cambridge Bay.  

  • Developing industry partnerships to source and secure required technologies and materials for our pilot structure. 

  • Conducting a climate risk assessment for the future site to determine priorities for climate change adaptation in the pilot building's design. 

  • Purchasing land for construction and working with local Elders and experts to better understand the area's ecology. 

  • Developing initial geotechnical studies to understand permafrost and water drainage for the future building site use this knowledge to design building foundations and area landscaping. 

  • Create blueprints and 3D renderings for the pilot structure to prepare for construction in 2022.