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May Hakongak Centre 2 by Edward Allen Ja

In 1999, our community organization laid plans and garnered support for the construction of offices, a heritage centre and community library as part of Cambridge Bay's 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 new facilities 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 spaces 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.









  • 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 a pilot building to monitor and assess renewable and energy efficient materials and technologies for the Arctic.   



  • 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 renewable energy 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 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 1100 sq ft modular building for 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. 

  • Begin developing blueprints and 3D renderings 

  • Creation of a Feasibility Study for the new pilot building 




  • Hosting of a Knowledge Dissemination workshop in Calgary, Alberta, bringing together northern and southern industry professionals. 

  • Onsite training of Cambridge Bay tradespeople at production facilities of material manufacturers (ZS2, Endurotech) supplying structural components for the Kuugalak work space.  

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

  • Onboarding of members, and multiple community workshops, for a regional language committee to oversee future programming at Kuugalak. 

  • Creation of a stronger supportive network for local construction and trades in Cambridge Bay through hiring of new staff, subcontractors, and professional training/assistance. 

  • Attendance of the Pembina Institute's Renewables in Remote Communities Conference in Whitehorse, Yukon.

  • Completion of a needs assessment for an Arctic building knowledge digital platform, and creation of partnership with Arctic-focused software company Pinnguaq to oversee its custom development. Project is currently pending funding approval.

  • SAIT travel to Cambridge Bay to participate in Community Energy Planning event to showcase materials and designs to be used for Kuugalak's construction.


  • Completion of blueprints and 3D renderings for 1300 sq ft Kuugalak work space.  

  • Completion of structural envelope manufacture for Kuugalak, which has been crated and warehoused in Calgary pending shipment to Cambridge Bay by sealift in July 2023.  

  • Acquisition of land development permit. 

  • Completion of geotechnical report required to design suitable workshop foundation. Development of plans for ongoing permafrost monitoring research to assess the building's geothermal impact over time.  

  • Beginning civil work for building foundation pad and parking lot. 

  • Creation of renewable energy plan for Kuugalak workspace and purchase of photovoltaic panels and mounting for building's solar awning.  

  • Creation of specialized cultural equipment plans for the campus and interior design strategy. 

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