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Northern Policy Hackathons

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Northern Policy Hackathons are events that bring together northerners to discuss policy issues and create tangible, actionable solutions.

This innovative model brings northerners from the three territories and Inuit Nunangat together — in person — to develop made-in-the-North recommendations on issues which are important in their communities.

Northern Policy Hackathons are an effective way of engaging a diverse group of people who are passionate about driving solutions for pressing policy issues. By advancing skills in policy development, this model builds and sustains policy capacity across the North.

In partnership with the Canadian International Arctic Centre and the Arctic Mayors’ Forum, The Gordon Foundation ran the first Arctic Policy Hackathon (APH) on October 11 and 12 2022 in Reykjavik, Iceland. Emerging leaders from across the circumpolar North developed policy recommendations addressing food sovereignty in the Arctic.

Following the APH, the policy recommendations were presented by two hackathon participants during a panel during the 2022 Arctic Circle Assembly on October 13.

The Northern Policy Hackathon Toolkit.

Based on our experience of carrying out three Northern Policy Hackathons we have developed and tested a Northern Policy Hackathon Toolkit. We know that people are looking for innovative ways to contribute to policy discussions online, so the toolkit includes ideas on adapting policy hackathons to take place online.

Find out how we developed and tested the toolkit. 

Access the full toolkit. 

Recommendations from the 3rd Northern Policy Hackathon on Housing

On May 14-16, 2019, the Gordon Foundation convened their third Northern Policy Hackathon in Inuvik, Northwest Territories. The third Hackathon brought together northerners from across the three territories and Inuit Nunangat, to develop innovative policy recommendations on northern housing.  Participants were from a wide array of backgrounds, including a Gwich’in elder, landlords, community members, business owners, the non-profit sector, academic institutions, municipal, territorial, regional, Indigenous leadership, and the federal government.

Policy Recommendations

Background Research

The Foundation has hosted three Hackathons to-date:

Recommendations on Country/Traditional Food

October 25-26, 2017

Nain, Nunatsiavut

Read the Recommendations.


Recommendations on Small and Medium Sized Enterprises

August 21-22, 2018

Iqaluit, Nunavut

Read the Recommendations.


Recommendations on Housing

May 14-16, 2019

Inuvik, NWT

Read the Recommendations.




Northern Policy Hackathons create a space for rich conversation, but they are also designed to go beyond dialogue. They provide an essential opportunity for participants to create and recommend viable federal policy solutions to problems that many northerners face.

Northern Policy Hackathons bring together people from across the North so that networks can be built and expanded. This provides a platform to share best practices and sustain regional collaboration on issues of common concern.

 There will be many opportunities throughout the event to develop a wide array of skills including consensus building, presenting ideas, and policy-writing.

The Foundation works in collaboration with partners to share the policy recommendations with key stakeholders that are best placed to translate policy into action.

The Foundation also conducts research with partners to provide background and context. This research is designed to bolster dialogue and provide an overview of existing, relevant policy work.

What are Hackathons?

Hackathons are short, intensive, all day events – typically lasting several days – during which a number of people meet to engage in collaborative problem-solving. Traditionally, hackathons refer to computer programmers gathering to develop leading-edge software. This model has proven very effective in driving innovative solutions, and has now been adapted by governments, non-profit organizations, universities, and crown-corporations.

What makes Northern Policy Hackathons different from a regular policy conference or workshop is the focus on generating concrete, actionable outcomes. Policies that impact the North are often made in the South. Northern Policy Hacakthons are designed to help shift this narrative and create a norm of federal policy being made by northerners for northerners.


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“…I learned many things that allowed me to strengthen and improve my knowledge of how policies are developed, work and continue to affect the lives of people not only in Canada but also all over the world.”

Lilly Parr, Nunavut Sivuniksavut student and Hackathon participant.

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