Indigenous creators are ready for their approach to technology

Canada wants to be a global technology leader and great things have happened on this front in recent years. Indigenous nations also want to be global technology leaders – and, in fact, we always have been.

Indigenous technology is based on sustainability, universal access and education: from canoes to pyramids, from roads and bridges to cities and trade networks, from teepees that weathered storms to boardless longhouses that weathered ocean storms. We managed millions of square miles of land and water, providing good lives for millions of people, protecting waterways and forests and non-human beings.

And this technology was always fused with art. I am Cree and Métis, not from the West Coast, but I remain in awe of the Haida’s traditional carved halibut hooks, which simultaneously embody science, art, respect for the strange halibut and the sustainability of its stocks.

Among the many misconceptions about indigenous people is that Western technology is beyond our capacity. This despite sharing our vast knowledge and technology with the newcomers, who used it to survive, then to claim Turtle Island’s resources. We knew where the gold and bitumen was, and our canoes made the Hudson Bay Co.

Indigenous people have always been quick to use new technology, but we always had bigger dreams than mere skill or profit. We were driven to advance and enrich our cultures and communities, especially our storytelling traditions.

When Indigenous people first had access to cameras, lighting, audio equipment and filmmaking, they immediately adapted these tools to create films that reflect our stories. We shared these with a world that so often misrepresented Indigenous culture, and we were empowered to push the boundaries of the form to tell these stories with greater intensity and emotion.

My career as an indigenous filmmaker, artist and activist has allowed me to share my passion for telling stories through technology that advances almost daily. I have had the privilege of working with and mentoring talented and passionate artists, and we have told the truth about Indigenous history, reclaiming our culture from the myths that colonial oppressors tried to bury it under.

The struggle to rebuild our culture continues for new generations of creators. These creators have exceptional skills and innovative techniques and have engaged Indigenous and non-Indigenous audiences who are eager for our perspectives.

Many are self-trained in emerging technology. But if we want to create more opportunities, we need to increase access. As the founder and creative director of the IM4 Lab in partnership with Emily Carr University of Art and Design, I can say that the vision is to give filmmakers access to the latest virtual and augmented reality technology training to indigenize the film industry .

An exciting new element will soon be added to IM4 Lab. The Virtual Production Innovation Studio, a collaboration with the Digital Supercluster’s Talent and Capability Program, will allow creators to expand their capabilities to create sets and digital effects that can rival any Hollywood blockbuster.

Opinion: Indigenous people have always been quick to use new technology, but we always had bigger dreams than mere skill or profit, writes Loretta Todd. #ArtificialIntelligence #Indigenous #WomenInTech

Virtual production, which uses virtual and augmented reality technologies, has quickly become an essential tool in modern filmmaking. Its indigenous users can be inspired by Taika Waititi, a Maori director and producer who has used these technologies to create titles such as Thor: Love and Thunder AND Our flag means death.

The virtual studio will begin training its first wave of 30 Indigenous creators in the coming weeks. The free program includes extensive training in a virtual production studio and will be overseen by a matriarchal governing body including Tracey Kim Bonneau, Cease Wyss and Doreen Manuel.

These Indigenous women have extensive careers in media and community activism and are committed to ensuring community access to these storytelling tools.

With access, we can recreate history and build immersive environments for our stories. People who receive this training can walk large production groups with confidence and build good careers.

It is important that trainers working with Indigenous creators have an empathy and understanding of who we are and why these tools are important to us. This model provides the development of skills in a context controlled by indigenous traditions and culture. I hope it can be used to connect indigenous artists with advanced technological skills in other fields.

This is about making traditional values ​​and culture the foundation of developing advanced skills in our community. Technology and skills are not just career builders, but community builders. This is what makes our approach unique, but it can also be applied beyond the creative fields, to health care, education, environmental science and beyond.

I hope that programs like the Virtual Production Innovation Studio can also be models of reconciliation. We have an incredible opportunity to train a new generation of Indigenous creatives to collaborate with the wider industry and turn a camera on our rich history, our modern lives and the future of seven generations. In doing so, we can influence Canada’s arts sectors to be more inclusive and reflective.

Loretta Todd is an Indigenous filmmaker and the founder and creative director of IM4 Lab.

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