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Why DIY and maker culture are making Canada a more creative place

On the cusp of mainstream recognition, maker and DIY culture are making Canada an extraordinary and creative place and exposing more people to the beauty and wonder of the science, technology, engineering and math fields.

The words “maker” and “DIYer” can mean vastly different things. In this case, “maker culture” refers to a contemporary subculture representing a technology-based extension of DIY culture, while “DIY culture” focuses on the ethic of self-sufficiency by completing tasks without the aid of a paid expert in a variety of disciplines, including home improvement, first aid or creative works.

This ethos first came to fruition in 2006 and has strong roots in the tech and hacking community.

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So what is it about maker and DIY culture that is making Canada more creative?

You can find support and training to finish a project you never thought possible

Rather than relying on others to make things for you, maker spaces teach in a collaborative setting. So whether you want to learn about 3-D printing, video game design or bookbinding, these spaces teach you how to make and create items. For example, in Toronto, you can attend workshops and classes at The Shop and learn everything from ceramics to beekeeping to woodworking.

Kids are making and shaping our future

Children who have an interest in STEM fields have been flocking to Maker Faires throughout Canada to collaborate and learn with other children their age. In Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver, they have Maker Junior, an organization dedicated to making with kids. Its biggest goal is to create maker-centred learning for young people and to help them create a better sense of self and a sense of community that empower them to engage with their world and others.

Author David Lewis of EdSurge explains, “Some young makers might discover a new passion for STEM or develop a hobby that doesn’t involve bright screens and inactivity. They also get to go home with a sense of accomplishment and the slightly wicked feeling that they have been allowed to do something a little dangerous.”

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Creating safe spaces to learn

Hackerspaces and makerspaces are commonly associated with dude-bros and places that aren’t necessarily comfortable or safe for women. But if you’re a techno wannabe, multimedia artist or nerd, several venues are actually gender nonconforming and female friendly. The Tool Library (located in Toronto, Ottawa, Halifax and Vancouver) and Dames Making Games are two spaces committed to providing safe spaces for those developing, growing and wanting to learn more.

According to the Feminist Journal of Art and Digital Culture, “In the case of feminist hackerspaces, such safer spaces are not only about safer speaking spaces, but also safer making and trying spaces. Moreover, the idea of creating safer spaces within hackerspaces is a way to invite and/or retain more feminists and gender nonconformists, among others, who might not fully identify with the dominant hacker culture.”

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