Summer Creativity Camps showed off college’s “Makerspace”

By Daniel Adam
Staff Writer
dadam@fortfrances.com

The Makerspace sits on the second floor of Seven Generations Education Institute (SGEI) in Fort Frances. With a laser engraver, augmented reality system, 3D printers, and several sewing machines, the Makerspace was the perfect place for SGEI’s Creativity Camps this summer.

Three different age groups came in July and August for week-long day camps to learn about technology, Anishinaabe culture, and the combination of the two.

Makerspace assistant Maggie LeMesurier says it’s important for people to be exposed to new technology and rich culture.

“Our goal is to provide knowledge and information about technology for communities who may not have access to it,” she says. “Because out in Fort Frances and Couchiching, we’re kind of in the middle of the sticks. We don’t get as much access to technology as they do in Toronto, so a place like this provides a place for people to learn and explore.”

Kids, teens, and adults got to do all sorts of things with the many machines and tools in the Makerspace. LeMesurier says this was SGEI’s first time running this sort of a camp, but because of the positive feedback, this camp is something they’d like to do again.

In her planning for the camps, her initial thought was to have it for kids only. But she decided to expand it to all ages, making three different age group camps. Two camps for kids, one for teens, and one for adults.

The Makerspace only accepted about 10 people per camp, to gauge interest and see if the inaugural year would be successful. Their trial run was just that, bringing in their quota and then some. LeMesurier says there were about 30 applicants for the youngest age group, which is why SGEI ran two sets of kids camps.

Participants at the Seven Generations Education Institute’s Creativity Camp made use of the school’s Makerspace, to create ribbon skirts. – Daniel Adam

“It made me feel really happy that people were so interested in learning,” says LeMesurier “It was just a huge exploration and creative camp.”

She says the main goal of the camps was to get people interested in the Makerspace.

“We had a lot of people say to me ‘when are you going to be open? I’m going to come here all the time,’” says LeMesurier. “So I think our goal was accomplished.”

She says the Makerspace is relatively new, and that SGEI has been wanting to open it up to the public for awhile, but COVID has set back their plans to open.

She says they are still getting things ready, and need to consider their COVID-19 policies.

“We’re just working with each department to find out when we’ll be open,” she says.

LeMesurier says there’s a chance it will open this fall. Once it does open, she welcomes students to come in and take a tour, or come and finish school projects.

The Makerspace also has audio and digital labs for sound recording, so there’s no shortage of things to do there.

“Basically, the sky’s your limit,” says LeMesurier.