Iqaluit non-profit launches scholarship in memory of 'the girl with robots'

·3 min read
Danielle Moore poses during a trip to Iqaluit shortly before she died. Pinguaq Association launched a scholarship in her name on Thursday.  (Submitted by Ryan Oliver - image credit)
Danielle Moore poses during a trip to Iqaluit shortly before she died. Pinguaq Association launched a scholarship in her name on Thursday. (Submitted by Ryan Oliver - image credit)

A young woman known as the "girl with robots" at Pinnguaq Association's Makerspace in Iqaluit is being memorialized with a scholarship that will carry forward her legacy.

It's been a little more than three years since Danielle Moore and 156 others were killed in a Boeing 737 Max 8 plane crash in Ethiopia. Moore was in Iqaluit shortly before her death, sharing her love of technology and coding with youth, and had plans to return to the city for volunteer work that summer.

"She really attracted a lot of love from the kids in the short time she got to work with us," said Ryan Oliver, Pinnguaq's CEO. "She was a really important part of the soul of this space."

The Makerspace is a hub for people of all ages to explore science and technology. Staff from Canada Learning Code came North to help Pinnguaq open a permanent location in 2018.

That's how Oliver and Moore first met.

She was like a "spark of joy," who made kids feel safe and loved the moment they walked through the door, "which is what you need, anytime you have a space like this," he explained.

Submitted by Ryan Oliver
Submitted by Ryan Oliver

Pinnguaq has committed to supporting The Danielle Moore Scholarship with $5,000 a year for the next ten years. It's for Nunavummiut who want to learn more about things Moore was passionate about: science, technology, engineering, arts, math or teaching.

"I really want the scholarship to help," said Moore's mother, Clariss Moore, who was in town for the scholarship's launch on Thursday evening with her son, David.

Moore said her daughter has left behind a legacy of sharing what she has with others.

"For our family, even though how lost we are, we want to continue with that legacy. To help people, to spread the word, to share what we have," she said.

Robot girl

Oliver said Moore was the first person to bring Dash robots to the Makerspace, which is how she came to be known as the "girl with the robots."

Liny Lamberink/CBC
Liny Lamberink/CBC

Dash robots operate like remote-controlled cars that kids can program to act in certain ways. The toys dance, light up, make sounds and move around obstacles. Kids can control them with a pair of apps on a mobile device.

Pinnguaq continues to use them — and the curriculum Moore developed for them — to introduce kids to coding.

"The most important thing you learn when you get to play with something like that is you're in control," said Oliver. "Through that, you can create a lot of opportunities to express yourself in different ways, explore different ways of creating."

Liny Lamberink/CBC
Liny Lamberink/CBC

More on the scholarship

The Danielle Moore Scholarship can be used to support people of all ages doing post-secondary education or a post-secondary preparation program. It can also be used for educational opportunities outside of a formal institution.

Oliver hopes to distribute the $5,000 to multiple scholars each year, and expects there are some "hard decisions" in his future about who gets how much. He also wants to find more funding to keep the scholarship going beyond the initial 10-year commitment.