Sanajiit is a social enterprise that sells furniture made out of recycled wood while directly empowering Northern youth. Sanajiit, meaning “group of builders” in Inuktitut, uses a tiered approach for personal development to help these youth achieve their full potential. In partnership with Skills Nunavut, youth participate in a series of workshops where they learn how to build furniture, as well as increase their knowledge of workplace safety and mental health issues. Once they have developed their carpentry skills, they also have the opportunity to enhance their leadership and entrepreneurship skills by creating and running the social enterprise.
Sanajiit also acts as a recycling program for the city, in which members of the community can drop off their unused wood that the students use to create new pieces of furniture. Not only will this reduce the environmental strain on Iqaluit, but it will also address the need for more affordable furniture in the community. Ultimately, Sanajiit aims to build capacity within Northern youth while simultaneously addressing an important environmental issue.
Student Manager, Age 18
I play a lot of hockey, spend most of my time outdoors and I like to weld. I joined Sanajiit to improve my carpentry skills and creativity. Since joining, I have learned how to take control and lead the participants to do workshop activities, as well as understand the safety hazard of the workplace. I know that the things I have learned from the project will help me a lot in the future. After I graduate, I plan to go to college for carpentry. Something I’m excited for in the future is learning about marketing and seeing how much we’ve improved throughout the year.
Student Manager, AGE 17
I am in film club, and on my school’s wrestling team, and I joined Sanajiit to build my management and leadership skills. I also wanted to increase my knowledge in carpentry. My favourite part about Sanajiit is all the new carpentry, leadership, and communication skills I have gained. I also improved my organization skills because I must be prepared before every workshop. I think that Sanajiit will further impact my life by teaching me entrepreneurship skills. I am excited to see all the completed projects everyone in Sanajiit is working on! My plan for when I graduate is to attend university.
Participant, Age 14
I’ve been to every province and territory except for Newfoundland, and play basketball. I haven’t decided on my career yet, but I am interested in becoming a lawyer. Sanajiit has impacted my life because it teaches me more about carpentry and helps me learn more about math. I’ve learned how to use numerous tools and some that I didn’t even know existed. My favourite part is cutting the wood. Because of Sanajiit I hope to be able to furnish my house and make sheds! In the future, I’m excited about buying my own house and starting my career.
In November 2016, the pilot phase of Sanajiit launched, with workshops being provided to five students by our carpentry mentor. The youth participate in two workshops every week which are conducted at the facilities of the Inuksuk High School, with the support of our two hard-working student managers. Students began by learning basic carpentry skills and how to operate shop machinery safely. Since then, students have begun working on their own individual projects during workshop sessions with the help and support of the carpentry mentor. Students were also able to participate in business-focused workshops, including marketing, finance, and entrepreneurship, providing them with valuable skills they can apply when they sell their products.
After a very successful pilot phase, the Sanajiit project hopes to build on this momentum in the coming year. One of our primary goals is to further establish the social enterprise and guide the youth in marketing and selling their products to the community. Beyond that, we would like to maintain the program we currently have in place at Inuksuk High School, while expanding it to include more students and get more youth involved. We also hope to be able to develop a similar program that reaches at-risk youth in Iqaluit outside of the school system to answer a greater need in the community. Finally, we would like to have a better established recycling program in place to provide the community with a collection point for unwanted wood and ensure that the youth have ample materials for their projects.
UNIVERSITY OF OTTAWA, TELFER SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT, 2105B-55 Laurier Avenue East, Ottawa, ON, K1N 6N5 Canada