It's a trip that's over 3,000 kilometres long to a destination that's only accessible by plane or boat, but that didn't stop eight Google employees from making a journey from Toronto to Nunavut.
The group set out back in August with a mission: To put the remote hamlet of Cambridge Bay, Nunavut on the map.
Armed with a Google trike (think of a three-wheeled bike outfitted with a camera on a shaft), tripods and lots of warm clothing, the team set out across the the roughly 203 square kilometres of Northern-Canadian territory. The project's a collaboration between Google, local residents and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., a non-profit organization, to allow the rest of the world a peek at what the 1,400 residents of Cambridge Bay get to see on a daily basis.
But fixing Cambridge Bay's map wasn't the only thing Google Canada set out to do. The initiative was also to get locals involved in the curation of their new digital map, part of what Google calls the "Community MapUp," says Aaron Brindle, a member of the team that ventured to Nunavut.
Google Canada Maps The Great White North. Story continues below.
“We wanted to improve the map, and part of improving the map of Cambridge Bay was actually getting members of the community – elders, business owners, teenagers – together in a room to use our map-maker product, which basically allows them to edit our Google Map,” said Brindle when he spoke to Global News.
The desire to give locals control over how the outside world saw their community was one of the big reasons to bring in Google Canada, said Christopher Kalluk, a member of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.
“This is a place with a vast amount of local knowledge and a rich history,” said Kalluk told CTV. “By putting these tools in the hands of our people, we will tell Nunavut’s story to the world.”
In the three months Brindle and his co-workers spent in Canada's North, residents mapped every street, store and house, along with rivers, lakes, and other keys locations like a daycare and the church, both in English and in the the community's official language of Inuktitut, reports Mashable.
Cambridge Bay residents are also hopeful for the project's potential not just for themselves, but also for future generations.
"I think that it is important for Inuit people to contribute to the maps. It is important for everybody. The land is everybody’s land. We all share it. It is especially important for children who are always learning and trying to understand the world,” said Anna Nahogaloak in an interview with the Star.
To see snippets of the map making project in action, check out the video below.