Elisa Harkins at the Indigenous Futures Cluster

Our new public-event branch, “Indigenous Futures Cluster Presents” invited Elisa Harkins (Cherokee/Muscogee), composer and artist, to speak at Concordia on October 27th. She received her BA from Columbia College Chicago and her MFA from the California Institute of the Arts. Her work uses music, sculpture and the body in the concept of “Performing Life”.

Her style of music combines traditional Cherokee music scores and electronic/dance music. She started with two animated music videos she had made called The Ham Dance and Buffalo. The videos are bright, colourful and fun. The Ham Dance is an animation of a yeti and a polar bear hanging out and having fun dancing. The Buffalo animation is a loose telling of the origin of the Blackfoot Indian “Buffalo Dance”.

Buffalo from Elisa Harkins on Vimeo.

A large portion of her performance, entitled “Wampum”, was also shown. Dressed in beautiful Cherokee powwow regalia, Harkins dances and sings in English and Cherokee. She dances barefoot as futuristic music plays, creating a mesmerizing show.

Following this she presented a video called Plains Indian Sign Language where she signed the story of a friend’s death. The video is powerful in its simplicity and introduced the concept of hunter’s sign language to many of those in attendance.

The Plains Indian Sign Language from Elisa Harkins on Vimeo.

Harkins also shared music she had made for portions of Skawennati’s newest machinima project, The Peacemaker Returns”. Nightcore, dance and electronic music styles mixed with Indigenous rhythms to create themes for characters and scenes. Her work is a little strange and very interesting; take the time to watch her videos and performances to see for yourself one of the many forms Indigenous art can take.

Third Annual Symposium on the Future Imaginary: Introducing Jarita Greyeyes, Michelle Lavallee, and Karl Chitham

Jarita Greyeyes is nēhiyaw from the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation and the Red Pheasant Cree Nation, both located in Treaty Six territory. A graduate of the University of Winnipeg, and the University of Victoria’s Master of Arts in Indigenous Governance Program Jarita is currently the Director, Community Learning & Engagement for UWinnipeg.



Michelle LaVallee is the Curator at the MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina. Since 2007, her curatorial work has explored the colonial relations that have shaped historical and contemporary culture through exhibitions including: Moving Forward, Never Forgetting (2015); 13 Coyotes: Edward Poitras (2012); and Blow Your House In: Vernon Ah Kee (2009). Recently, she organized the historical and nationally touring exhibition 7: Professional Native Indian Artists Inc. (2013, touring through to 2016) and award winning book contextualizing their influential role in contemporary Canadian art history. She has been a chosen participant for a number of Canadian Aboriginal Curators Delegations sent to Australia, New Zealand and Venice, and her curatorial work has been recognized by three Saskatchewan Book Awards and the City of Regina Mayor’s Arts and Business Awards.

Karl Chitham holds a real-time conversation with artist Kereama Taepa about his work, time and the Māori tradition of innovation. Using social media platforms to cross time zones and geographical space the pair will explore some of the incongruities and divergences manifest in the coming together of indigenous concepts and contemporary global culture. With a practice that is deeply invested in technological advancement and the evolution of traditional knowledge, Taepa posits a future that rejects notions of linearity and fundamentalism in favour of something that threatens to upset the balance.

Third Annual Symposium on the Future Imaginary: Asinnajaq (Isabella Weetaluktuk), Jamie Isaac, Heather Campbell!

15 sleeps until the Symposium 🙂 We’re getting very excited to see all 300 of you in Winnipeg! This week, we’re introducing three more of our Symposium guests, Asinnajaq, Jamie Isaac, and Heather Campbell.

Asinnajaq, also known as Isabella Weetaluktuk, is a filmmaker and artist whose work is fuelled by respect for human rights, a desire to explore her Inuit heritage, and a sense of wonder at what she calls “the abundant beauty of the world.” The daughter of filmmaker Jobie Weetaluktuk and university professor Carol Rowan, she was a teenager when she assisted her father on the set of Timuti (2012), a film he made in Inukjuak, the home of their extended family. She later studied cinema at NSCAD University in Halifax, and her short film Upinnaqusittik (Lucky) (2016) premiered at iNuit blanche in St. John’s, Newfoundland, the first ever circumpolar arts festival. Three Thousand (2017), her first film with the National Film Board embeds historic footage of Inuit selected from the NFB’s archive into a 14-minute original animation.

Jaimie Isaac is a Winnipeg-based interdisciplinary curator and artist, member of Sagkeeng in Treaty 1 territory. Isaac holds a degree in Art History and a Masters of Arts from the University of British Columbia. Some recent exhibitions include Vernon Ah Kee: cantchant, Boarder X, We Are On Treaty Land, and Quiyuktchigaewin; Making Good for the Winnipeg Art Gallery, she co-founded of The Ephemerals Collective, collaborated on official denial (trade value in progress), contributed to The Land We Are Now: Writers and Artists Unsettle the Politics of Reconciliation book and the Public 54: Indigenous Art: New Media and the Digital magazine and was co-faculty for the Wood Land School at Plug In Institute.

Heather Campbell is originally from Rigolet, Nunatsiavut (Northern Labrador) and has a B.F.A from Sir Wilfred Grenfell College School of Fine Art, Memorial University of Newfoundland. She was Curatorial Assistant at the Inuit Art Centre of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada for a number of years, and was on the board of directors of Gallery 101 artist run centre. Heather’s artwork was most recently shown in the group exhibition SakKijâjuk at The Rooms in St. John’s, NL and can be found in the collections of the Department of Indigenous Affairs, Carleton University, City of Ottawa, Algonquin College, and various private collections.

Third Annual Symposium on the Future Imaginary: Elizabeth LaPensée, Owisokon Lahache, and Rilla Khaled!

19 sleeps until the symposium!! This week we’re introducing three cool humans, Elizabeth LaPensée, Ph.D., Owisokon Lahache, and Dr. Rilla Khaled. See you soon!

Elizabeth LaPensée, Ph.D. expresses herself through writing, design, and art in games, comics, transmedia, and animation. She is Anishinaabe, Métis, and Irish, living near the Great Lakes as an Assistant Professor of Media & Information and Writing, Rhetoric & American Cultures at Michigan State University. She designed and created art for Thunderbird Strike (2017), a side-scrolling lightning-searing, talon-tearing attack on oil operations, as well as Honour Water (2016), an Anishinaabe singing game for healing the water.


Owisokon Lahache from the Kahnawake Mohawk First Nations reserve outside of Montreal Quebec. She is grateful to have been honored and entrusted with teaching her community’s teenage children for more than 31 years. She is an artist, a teacher, an Elder, a Grandmother and knowledgeable about Iroquoian history, ceremony, and community life. She has been creating art since she was a child and at 11 years old, she participated in a two-day live drawing event at the Indian Pavilion at Expo ’67 – this event was the beginning of her love of creating art and today she is exploring new pathways dreaming about the future and exploring new medias.

Dr. Rilla Khaled is an Associate Professor at the Department of Design and Computation Arts at Concordia University in Canada. Her research and practice has centered on the design of learning and persuasive games, interactions between games and culture, and practices involved in emerging forms of game design. Two of her current projects include the FRQSC-funded Speculative Play and Reflective Game Design, both of which concern design perspectives that embrace ambiguous subjects, foreground play, empower the perspectives of players and participants, and draw on experimental games and new media art.


Third Annual Symposium on the Future Imaginary: Jason Edward Lewis and Karaema Taepa

Only four weeks until Winnipeg! ~Oh my Creator~ We’re so excited to see you all!

This week we’re introducing Professor Jason Edward Lewis and Karaema Taepa!

Jason Edward Lewis is a digital media poet, artist, and software designer developing research/creation projects that explore computation as a creative and cultural material. Lewis’ work has been featured at Ars Electronica, Elektra, and Urban Screens, among other venues, and has been recognized with the inaugural Robert Coover Award for Best Work of Electronic Literature, a Prix Ars Electronica Honorable Mention, several imagineNATIVE New Media awards and five solo exhibitions. He writes about mobile media, video game design, machinima and experimental pedagogy with Indigenous communities. Lewis is a Trudeau Fellow, and Research Chair in Computational Media and the Indigenous Future Imaginary as well as Professor of Computation Arts at Concordia University, Montreal. Born and raised in northern California, he is Cherokee, Hawaiian and Samoan.

Kereama Taepa studied for his Bachelor of Maori Visual Arts at Massey University in Palmerston North, and continued on to gain his Masters degree. Taepa’s involvement in the arts have been broad and varied including bronze technician at the Dibble Arts Foundry and participating in various national Maori arts symposiums, workshops and hui.

Taepa taught art within the Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi Art and Visual Culture Degree for four years until 2008 and has been teaching within Toi Oho Mai’s Bachelor of Creative Technologies since 2009.

He has exhibited his art nationally and internationally, and has works in collections across New Zealand and abroad. He was recently contracted to create sculptures for the Four Plinths Sculpture Project in Wellington, 2016 and a public sculpture in New Plymouth, 2015. His first major commissions saw him design the screens for the new toilets on the Waipa side of the Whakarewarewa forest in 2014 and the shrouds surrounding the Redwoods toilets in Rotorua 2013. He is a Supreme Award winner of the Molly Morpeth 2D Art Award in 2008, and picked up the Manawatu Potter’s Society Award’s open award in 2002.

Introducing Kristina Baudemann, IIF Visiting Researcher

Hi! My name is Kristina Baudemann and I am an instructor, research assistant and Ph.D. student in the department for English and American Studies at the Europa-Universitaet Flensburg in Germany. I am a visiting researcher at IIF/AbTeC/Obx Labs for two weeks, where I will gather material for my chapter on Indigenous narratives in cyberspace.

My dissertation is entitled “Indigenous North American Futures: Representation and the Future Imaginary in Native American, First Nations and Métis Speculative Arts and Literatures.” In this project, I consider manifestations of futurity, future thinking and future dreaming in Indigenous works across different media (speculative fiction, visual art and painting, and new media works). I have also published on Indigenous futurisms, utopia and science fiction in international scholarly books and journals.

I graduated from the University of Wuerzburg in Germany in 2012. In 2014, I was a Fulbright fellow in the American Indian Studies Institute at the University of Arizona in Tucson. In 2017, my dissertation project was awarded the 2017 Juergen-Saße-Award for research in Aboriginal studies by the Association for Canadian Studies in German-speaking Countries (GKS).

My research interests include North American Indigenous arts and literatures, Indigenous futurisms, science fiction and speculative fiction, utopian studies, postcolonial studies, postmodern culture, as well as post-structuralist studies.

In my free time, I binge-watch TV shows and volunteer in different projects with refugee children. In 2013, I served as a board member for the Stadtjugendwerk der AWO in Wuerzburg, a non-governmental youth organization.

I am happy and grateful to be here atIIF/AbTeC/Obx Labs. I hope to learn as much as I can about its infrastructure and creative processes in the short time I am here, and am happy to share my own knowledge and help wherever I can.

Third Annual Symposium on the Future Imaginary: Heather Igloliorte and Mandee McDonald

This week, we introduce Heather Igloliorte and Mandee McDonald!

(Only five weeks until the Symposium by the way!)

Heather Igloliorte (Inuit) is an Assistant Professor of Aboriginal Art History at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec, where she holds a University Research Chair in Indigenous Art History and Community Engagement. Igloliorte’s teaching and research interests center on Inuit and other Native North American visual and material culture, circumpolar art studies, performance and media art, the global exhibition of Indigenous arts and culture, and issues of colonization and self-determination. Some of her recent publications related to this work include chapters and catalogue essays in Negotiations in a Vacant Lot: Studying the Visual in Canada; Manifestations: New Native Art Criticism; Curating Difficult Knowledge; and Inuit Modern. Igloliorte has also been an independent curator for twelve years. In 2016 she co-curated the world’s first all circumpolar night festival, iNuit blanche; curated the reinstallation of the permanent collection of Inuit art at the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec; and launched the nationally touring exhibition ​SakKijajuk: Art and Craft from Nunatsiavut.

Mandee McDonald is a founding member of Dene Nahjo, and the former Program Director at Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning.  She was Camp Director at Dene Nahjo’s 2nd Annual Urban Hide Tanning Camp in Somba K’e in August 2017, and is currently working with Dene Nahjo to develop a series of Indigenous leadership workshops for delivery across the north. She has a B.A. in Political Science (Hon.) with a Minor in Indigenous Studies, and a M.A. in Indigenous Governance from the University of Victoria.

She is Maskîkow (Swampy Cree), originally from from Mántéwisipihk (Churchill, MB), and has resided in Somba K’e (Yellowknife) for the past twenty years.   

Third Annual Symposium on the Future Imaginary: Dr. Noelani Arista and Kauwila Mahi

Hello again! Only six weeks until the Symposium. We hope you’ve started to pack 🙂  This week we’re introducing two guest speakers, Dr. Noelani Arista and Kauwila Mahi! Both also took part in He Au Hou, the fifth Skins Workshop in Aboriginal Storytelling and Video Game Design which took place in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi last summer. One of the outcomes of the workshop was that the participants formed the Nā ʻAnae Mahiki Collective. They will creating more games, hosting game jams, and contributing to intergenerational Indigenous digital media projects.

Dr. Noelani Arista is assistant professor of Hawaiian and U.S. History at University of Hawai‘i-Mānoa. Her research and writing centers on translation and research in Hawaiian language archives focusing on governance, the practice of history and a more recent focus on mele (songs). Above all she finds peace in practice, using the search engines of online digital archives to refine methods of approach to bringing order and organization to Hawaiian systems of knowledge. She is the founder of the Facebook group 365 Days of Aloha which seeks to reconfigure our approaches to a subject that is overused yet little understood and foster healing and a sense of completion back to community.

Her dissertation, “Histories of Unequal Measure: Euro-American Encounters With Hawaiian Governance and Law, 1793-1827,” won the Allan Nevins Prize from the Society of American Historians for the best dissertation written on an American subject in 2010, and will be published by Penn Press. In 2013-14, Professor Arista was a postdoctoral fellow in English at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research has been supported by fellowships from the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, the Mellon Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, and Native American Studies at Dartmouth College.

Here is a link to her website at the University of Hawai‘i-Mānoa http://manoa.hawaii.edu/history/people/faculty/arista/.

Kauwila Mahi is a graduate student in Hawaiian Studies at University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. He is from Kamiloiki, Waimānalo, Koʻolaupoko, Oʻahu. He attended Pūnana Leo o Kawaiahaʻo and Ke Kula Kaiapuni ʻo Ānuenue, both Hawaiian Language Immersion programs here on Oʻahu. However, he graduated from Lincoln High School in San Jose, California. He has worked for two local brands as a cultural consultant, FITTED HAWAIʻI, and Paradise Soccer Club. Currently, he is focused on finishing his thesis which uses ludology, the experience of a gamer, as it pertains to video games that depict Hawaiʻi.

Fall into autumn with AbTeC

She:kon! The leaves are changing and Mont Royal provides a lovely view out the office window as everyone is busy at work.

The beginning of the new school year came with an Intro to Second Life workshop, delivered by Skawennati, Maize Longboat, and myself.  Held in collaboration with the Concordia Student Union, the workshop had 10 students attending and was held in a computer lab at the University. Over the course of two hours, the group learned the basics of the game and created their avatars. We introduced Second Life by noting that we use it to film machinima. The workshop ended with a question and answer period where participants asked about the history of AbTeC, TimeTraveller™, and about some of the finer details of machinima creation. The group was enthusiastic and great to work with!

Autumn is going to be an exciting time for AbTeC here at Concordia University. There will be an AbTeC retrospective show called Filling in the Blank Spaces at the Leonard and Bina Ellen Gallery running from November 4 to December 2, 2017.

The exhibition-forum will show 20-plus years of programming and production from Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace (AbTeC) and the Initiative for Indigenous Futures (IIF). Documentation from Skins Workshops, work from Scott Benesiinaabandan, Postcommodity and selections from IIF and other projects will all be presented in the space.

There will also be workshops held at the gallery! Skawennati will lead the workshops with the help of research assistants, including myself and Maize. Intro to Second Life will provide basic knowledge of the game and website that is used for Skawennati’s machinima projects. In the second workshop, Indigenous students will work on character design. Over the last few days, we will offer Intro to Machinima demonstrations at various times. Please stay tuned for more information on our social media.

Activating AbTeC Island has been on hold as the team is busy using the space for filming the current machinima project, but keep an eye out for when we announce the return! Have some fun looking at the rich history of AbTeC and we look forward to working with those who sign up for the workshops!

Third Annual Symposium on the Future Imaginary: Tasha Spillett and Joi T. Arcand!

Only 7 weeks remain until the 3rd Annual Symposium on the Future Imaginary! We’re happy to introduce two more of our speakers, Tasha Spillett and Joi T. Arcand.

Tasha Spillett is a Cree and Trinidadian woman, a celebrated educator and an active member of Manitoba’s Indigenous community. She is a ceremony woman and a traditional singer, often offering her voice at community gatherings. In her work as an educator, Tasha makes every effort to infuse her cultural knowledge into her teaching philosophy and practice to support the positive cultural identities of Indigenous students and to strengthen relationships between all communities. Tasha acknowledges her unique opportunity and responsibility to create learning environments that are culturally responsive, and foster belonging for Indigenous students and families.

Tasha has recently completed her Masters degree in Land-Based Indigenous Education through the University of Saskatchewan with stellar academic standing. Presently, Tasha is a PhD candidate; her research seeks to examine the role of land-based education in supporting the wellbeings of Indigenous girls living in urban areas. One of Tasha’s most recent accomplishments was being awarded the title of Miss Congeniality and Best Essay award at the 2014 Miss Indian World in Albuquerque, NM, where she represented the Indigenous peoples of Manitoba, sharing cultural knowledge and raising awareness on the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women. Although Tasha is just at the beginning of her bright career, she looks forward to continuing to grow as an educator and to sharing her knowledge with the intent of building learning environments that nurture and celebrate cultural diversity.  Guiding Tasha’s professional and community work are the words of Tatanka Yotanka (Sitting Bull)- “Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children.”

Joi T. Arcand is a photo-based artist from Muskeg Lake Cree Nation currently based in Ottawa, Ontario. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Saskatchewan in 2005. Along with Felicia Gay, she co-founded the Red Shift Gallery, a contemporary Aboriginal art gallery in Saskatoon in 2006. And in 2012, she founded kimiwan ‘zine, a quarterly Indigenous arts publication. Her work has been exhibited at Gallery 101 in Ottawa, York Quay Gallery in Toronto, PAVED Arts in Saskatoon, grunt gallery in Vancouver, and published in Black Flash Magazine.