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'A chance to be creative,' Fort Smith, N.W.T.'s new Makerspace already outgrowing its roots

The new Thebacha Makerspace, which started last February, runs two workshops a week. It's working to become a non-profit and expand its scope. (Carla Ulrich/CBC - image credit)
The new Thebacha Makerspace, which started last February, runs two workshops a week. It's working to become a non-profit and expand its scope. (Carla Ulrich/CBC - image credit)

It started out as an idea between a handful of Fort Smith, N.W.T. organizations — a fully functional Makerspace that can host an unlimited number of creative and building activities.

Last February, a group of Makerspace hopefuls began assessing interest. And now, the Thebacha Makerspace holds two workshops a week.

The small room has been loaned to the Thebacha Makerspace by Aurora College. In it, they have sewing machines, power tools, a t-shirt press, wood-burning tools, a laser engraver and so much more.

Whitney Locken is the coordinator for the Thebacha Makerspace. She said the organization currently holds workshops on Wednesday evenings and Friday afternoons and that everyone aged 8 – 100 years old are welcome.

Whitney Locken is the coordinator of the Thebacha Makerspace. She said they are in the process of becoming a non-profit society, which would lead to more funding opportunities for workshops and equipment, and eventually a bigger space. (Carla Ulrich/CBC)

The Makerspace has grown substantially since it started in February but Locken said they still have a lot of work to do to get it to a fully functioning space for everything they want to offer.

"It's basically a mini Makerspace. People can come and try out and see what we have to offer," she said, adding "we're quickly outgrowing it."

Locken said they are currently in the process of becoming a non-profit society, which would lead to more funding opportunities for workshops and equipment, and eventually a bigger space. They are also looking for volunteers to join the board of directors.

Locken's daughter Wren Tsetso, 10, said she also loves hanging out at the Makerspace and spending time with her mom while making lots of cool stuff.

"The Makerspace is one of the most perfect places for me to be because I like building stuff," Tsetso said.

Wren Tsetso said she loves hanging out at Makerspace and her favourite project so far has been a Halloween sign that she burned song lyrics onto. She hopes to eventually make her own clothes and figure skating dresses. (Carla Ulrich/CBC)

Tsetso said one of her favourite things she's made so far was a Halloween sign that she burned song lyrics onto. Her dream project is to eventually make her own clothes and figure skating dresses.

Locken said sustainability and upcycling are important at the Makerspace. They also focus on science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) based projects.

Right now the workshops have been mostly based on basic hand tools and anything else that can fit on the workbench, but Locken wants to put more emphasis on upcycling projects in the future.

Makerspace held a wood-burning workshop last week where participants made their own wooden ornaments. (Carla Ulrich/CBC)

Last week they held a wood-burning workshop where participants made wooden ornaments that they decorated themselves. But Locken added that people don't have to just stick to the workshop project.

"If you want to come in and try something else, you're more than welcome," she said.

On Wednesday, the group is putting on a knitting and crocheting workshop, which Locken said will be special.

"We're trying to get the town and the community together to make hats, mitts, and scarves for people in Enterprise who lost their belongings to the wildfire," she said.

Locken said she's excited to see Thebacha Makerspace grow and do it in a sustainable way.

"I feel like that's really important for the Makerspace here, and it gives people a chance to be creative."