Project Pinan

The objective of our project is to assist the community of Piñan in Northern Ecuador with their educational goals of creating access for the youth of Piñan to Ecuador’s public secondary education system (colegio) by 2019.

Education for all youth is just the first step of Pinan's community development goals, which aim to generate sustainability, dignified employment and empowerment for all of its members.

Piñán is a small village located in the north-west of Imbabura province, Ecuador, a remote region of the northern mountains of the country. Piñán is made up of about 220 people or 40 families who are part of the Kichwa indigenous peoples of the area. During the early colonial era, indigenous families were forced to settle on the current site where the village lies to serve as indentured workers to the hacienda. Piñán is one of the last communities in Ecuador still affected by this colonial regime of haciendas.​

It is situated in the highland Paramo, an environmentally significant, water-rich eco-system rife with staggering mountain peaks and alpine lagoons.

Over these last 300 years, little has changed in the hamlet or its surroundings. It has only been about 30 years since the community has been able to obtain some of their basic rights such as that to a school and basic education. The land rights however are still dubious and the villagers are unable to farm, build houses or keep their own animals for subsistence. Because of these restrictions men are forced to take the long journey out of the region to find labourious work for months at a time while the women remain at home to raise the children independently and with meagre resources.

However, Piñan is currently undergoing a very exciting phase in their development. They are engaged in a legal process along with the provincial government to have 109 hectares surrounding the community returned to their ownership. With this land grant they will be able to move forward significantly with initiating local economic developments to create jobs within the community. This will also open up the land to subsistence farming. Foremost this will entitle them to regulate, promote and benefit from tourism as a sustainable economy which has proven very successful regionally.

The people of Piñan are the native descendants of this region and consider themselves stewards of the Paramo and surrounding environments. Their plans for development are structured around deep understandings of ecological sustainability and maintain a focus toward grassroots economic development that is environmentally sensitive.

Up to this point a simple schoolhouse has been constructed in Piñan and several teachers are employed by the school board who travel weekly to teach primary schooling in the remote area. As of September 2018 schooling has been offered up to grade 10 in the community. The next 3 years of highschool (colegio), which are not available in Piñan, are the crucial years of technical and professional development in the Ecuadorean school-system. The colegios which students must attend in order to graduate all offer specialized technical programs.

Project Mission

About Pinan

About The Project

Our Project aims to work alongside the plans of Piñan’s community development by opening up professional and educational possibilities to the youth of Piñan.

CAN will be working with the elected municipality of Piñan as well as with the cooperation and support of local allies and governmental and non-governmental actors within the community of Cotacachi.


Our Project aims to work alongside the plans of Piñan’s community development by opening up professional and educational possibilities to the youth of Piñan.

CAN will be working with the elected municipality of Piñan as well as with the cooperation and support of local allies, governmental and non-governmental actors within the community of Cotacachi and the surrounding regions.


The overall vision of the project is to create a sustainable education program in Piñan. through the program youth of current and future generations will be able to complete their mandatory education and have access to work and professional development. In this way we are using education as a bridge to tie into and support Piñan’s own community development.


To realize this vision we will be constructing Piñan’s very own colegio institution and developing an education program designed specifically for the needs of the community and its youth.


The building will have several classrooms for multiple classes and subjects and will be equiped with modern schooling equipment necessary for their continued education. The classrooms will contain science laboratories, projectors and a computer room as well as a library that will offer texts and learning tools in several languages.


But first, our most pressing goals are student enrolment and teacher employment. Classes are set to start this coming September, 2019! The community is in the process of registration right now to enrol the 22 youths who are currently ready to move on to this final level of vocational schooling. This has been a great effort in coordination on their part since all of the participating families have to travel to the city to register. As well, the regional board of education has approved our proposal for the project and will be taking on the responsibilities of employing qualified teachers for the community and training Piñan’s current teachers to give certain classes at the vocational level. We are excited to have such a dedicated team in Ecuador working with us to reach this goal!


The main program being offered is a general sciences degree. This is the program required throughout Ecuador to find career employment or continue education at the university level.

However our plan is to offer additional programs in trades such as tourism and guiding, business and agriculture. These fields were of particular interest to both the students and families and are skills seen as an integral part of the community’s development plans. Many of our supporters and volunteers in Ecuador have offered their skills or connections to make these programs happen in future years.

Another indispensable part of the program will be offering language classes, particularly English.

We will be developing a volunteer English teaching program in Piñan. This will let students learn directly from real English speakers as well as creating an opportunity for volunteers to connect with the program and the community. More information about this volunteer program will be posted on the site upon further development. However, if this opportunity interest you, please feel free to get in touch with us!


Finally a third phase of the project will be to establish a local support network for the community. This network is an essential part of how our project works.

Our goal is that through this network we will be able to offer the youth with much better opportunities for local employment and apprenticeships. This opportunity for professional development is seen by community president Fausto Rodriguez as an essential part of the project which will direct the benefits of education back to the community as well as in guiding the youth toward local and meaningful work opportunities.

Since the initial stages of conceptualization our organization has been drawing on the help of individuals, organizations, local governments and institutions. All of these different actors to help provide the resources and input that this project needs to come to life. As our network continues to grow the possibilities have too and it is this network that will make the project possible, sustainably and locally.

Explore the map to give some context to the story, and see the region around Piñán and Cotacachi, the communities which we work in.

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Simon Cretien, Ex. Director


Phone: 250-505-9071

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