Native creators are ready for a close-up with technology

Canada wants to be a global technology leader, and big things have been happening on that front in recent years. Indigenous Nations also want to be global technology leaders – and indeed we always have been.

Indigenous technology relies on sustainability, universal access, and education: from canoes to pyramids, roads and bridges to cities and trade networks, from snowstorm-bearing hills to ocean-storm-proof wooden longhouses. We have managed millions of square miles of land and water, providing a decent life for millions of people while protecting waterways, forests and nonhumans.

And this technology has always fused with art. I’m Cree and Métis, not from the West Coast, but I adore Haidas’ traditional carved halibut hooks, which simultaneously incorporates science, art, respect for halibut and the sustainability of their stocks.

Among the many misconceptions about indigenous people is that western technology is beyond our capacity. This is despite sharing our vast knowledge and technology with newcomers who use them to survive and then lay claim to 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 adopt new technology, but we have always dreamed of bigger than simple proficiency or profit. We are driven to advance and enrich our own cultures and communities, particularly our storytelling traditions.

When indigenous people first gained access to cameras, lighting, sound and filmmaking equipment, they immediately adapted these tools to create films that reflect our stories. We have shared these with a world that often misrepresents Indigenous culture and empowered to push the boundaries of form to tell these stories more intensely and emotionally.

My career as a native filmmaker, artist and activist has allowed me to share my passion for telling stories through technology that evolves almost daily. I’ve had the privilege of working with and mentoring talented and passionate artists and telling the truth about Indigenous history by reclaiming our culture from the myths that colonial oppressors tried to bury.

The struggle to rebuild our culture for the next generation of creators continues. These creators have exceptional talent and innovative techniques, and are engaging Indigenous and non-Indigenous audiences who are hungry for our perspectives.

Many have become self-taught in emerging technology. But if we want to create more opportunities, we must increase access. As the founder and creative director of 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 be added to IM4 Lab soon. A collaboration with Digital Supercluster’s Talent and Capability Program, Virtual Production Innovation Studio will allow creators to hone their skills to create digital sets and effects that can compete with any Hollywood blockbuster.

Opinion: Indigenous people have always been quick to adopt new technology, but we’ve always dreamed of bigger than simple competence or profit, writes Loretta Todd. #Artificial Intelligence #Native #WomenInTech

Virtual production using virtual and augmented reality technologies has quickly become an important tool in modern filmmaking. Indigenous users can draw inspiration from Maori director and producer Taika Waititi, 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 over the next few weeks. The free program includes extensive training in a virtual production studio and will be overseen by a matriarchal governing body that includes Tracey Kim Bonneau, Cease Wyss and Doreen Manuel.

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

With access, we can reconstruct history and create immersive environments for our stories. People who take this training can confidently walk onto large production sets and build good careers.

It’s important that educators working with local creators have a sense and understanding of who we are and why these tools are important to us. This model provides skills development in a context controlled by Indigenous traditions and culture. Hopefully it can be used to bring together Indigenous artists with high-tech skills in other fields.

It’s about making traditional values ​​and culture the foundation for advanced skills development in our community. Technology and skills are not just career builders, they are community builders. This is what makes our approach unique, but it can be applied beyond the creative fields, health, education, environmental science and beyond.

Hopefully programs like Virtual Production Innovation Studio can also be models of compromise. We have an extraordinary opportunity to train the next generation of Indigenous creators to collaborate with the wider industry and open a camera up on our rich history, modern life and seven generations’ future. By doing this, we can influence Canada’s arts sectors to be more inclusive and reflective.

Loretta Todd is a Native film director and the founder and creative director of IM4 Lab.

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