The Initiative for Indigenous Futures (IIF) is a partnership of universities and community organizations dedicated to developing multiple visions of Indigenous peoples tomorrow in order to better understand where we need to go today. Through its four main components –workshops, residencies, symposia, and archive– IIF will encourage and enable artists, academics, youth and elders to imagine how we and our communities will look in the future. IIF is conducted by Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace (AbTeC), a research network based at Concordia University.

Please see the IIF Partnership Activity Interactive Timeline to get an overview of what we’ve been up to.

The Challenge

Aboriginal youth are the fastest growing demographic in the country, with a growth trend that is estimated by Statistics Canada to be twice as rapid as the rest of the country’s population over the next two decades. First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities as well as municipal, provincial, and federal governments are increasingly concerned with how to reach these youth with effective and engaging programs that encourage and support them in the building of a vibrant future. The question of how Indigenous people imagine our future, and the related questions of how we will build our way to that future, is therefore pertinent to numerous individuals and institutions in this country. The Initiative for Indigenous Futures will assist in answering those questions, acting as a platform for imagining the future of Aboriginal communities in Canada from multiple perspectives, where scholars, creators, technologists, cultural activists, and policy developers concerned with the long-term future of Aboriginal communities can develop strategies for achieving that future.

The Goals and Objectives

The general goal of this grant is to initiate, support and sustain multidisciplinary research-creation around the following question: what futures we do we want to imagine, and then create, for our Aboriginal communities? We will address this question through a series of related activities. First, we lay a foundation by developing workshops for Aboriginal youth to provide them with critical, creative and technical skills within a context of storytelling from their communities. This activity will enable future generations to be active producers of advanced digital media, helping them shape the way we see each other and talk with the wider culture. Second, we will develop a residency and symposium series around the concept of the Indigenous Future Imaginary. This activity will provide an ongoing forum for a rich interdisciplinary conversation about where Indigenous communities see ourselves in five, ten, even twenty generations, and develop strategies to get us there. Third, we will generate scholarship around and document activity about Aboriginal artists practicing with advanced digital media, as such individuals engage with creative ways of connecting together our pasts with our future. This data will be captured in a web-accessible archive. Taken together, the Partnership’s activities will allow us to explore the cultural, conceptual, creative and technical dimensions of the ‘future imaginary’, encouraging young Aboriginal people to be fully empowered digital Natives with the confidence to craft a future of their choosing.

Breadth of Partnership and Engagement of Partners

IIF spans the academy, on-reserve educational organizations, post-secondary institutions with large Aboriginal populations, community arts organizations with a commitment to Aboriginal issues, and independent artists and researchers in five provinces and territories. Our engagement with one another as colleagues, collaborators, and partners can be measured in decades in some cases, while the existing group has worked in a formal Partnership for the last three years. Multiple academic, artistic and communal relationships exist between members of the existing group and the newly invited Partners.

Graphics Visualizing the Partnership

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