Vital People: Puzzle with a purpose helps orca conservation efforts

Vital People: Puzzle with a purpose helps orca conservation efforts

At the Puzzle Lab factory in downtown Victoria, a new puzzle is being made, but this is no ordinary puzzle — it’s a puzzle with a purpose.

“The orca puzzle is very special — both in its design, and its artwork, and its purpose,” explains Puzzle Lab co-founder Tinka Robev.

Each puzzle piece is a tiny whale.

“So when you receive the puzzle, you’re actually confronted with 206 identical little whale shapes,” Tinka says.

And they’re all perfectly pieced together on an original piece of orca artwork by Bowen Island’s Art by Di.

“I fell in love with her work,” says Puzzle Lab co-founder Andrew Azzopardi. “There’s just an ephemeral quality that’s really beautiful and really caught our eye.”

Tinka and Andrew started to make puzzles after the COVID pandemic impacted their work as designers. and they’ve already created 50 different designs.

“In November 2020, we had this crazy idea to launch a wood puzzle company,” Tinka says. “And as we started to grow the company and the feedback was really good, we thought how can we give back?”

They decided to make a puzzle with a purpose.

“It kept coming up,” explains Andrew. “Let’s make this a puzzle with a purpose so that way it’s giving back something to the community.”

Twenty dollars from every puzzle sold goes to the Raincoast Conservation Foundation to help Orca conservation efforts in B.C.

“They’re such beautiful and majestic creatures,” Tinka says. “You know, they’ve done nothing wrong and here we are messing up their habitat.”

“I’m from Toronto and we don’t have orcas in Toronto, we don’t have much wildlife at all, and when we moved to Victoria, we were blown away, at the awe-inspiring intensity that nature is always in your face,” adds Andrew.

The support they’ve received since moving to Victoria also inspired them to give back to the community.

“When you live in a supportive place and are taught what a supportive community can feel and look like, you just want to help to contribute in some way,” explains Andrew.

Their next project is educational puzzles for the Metis Nation of B.C. to teach youth about Metis culture — proving puzzles can make a difference.

“We’re just really interested in making the world a little bit better,” Tinka says. “As millennials, we don’t think we have a ton of power to change much but this was an avenue for us to actually do something.”

READ MORE: Vital People: Special Olympics athlete Sheenagh Morrison wants you to take the polar plunge

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