Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Celebrating the Spirit and Identity of Indigenous Culture in Canada

CES’s mandate has always been to support local community development initiatives that ensure preservation of culture through responsible economic development and empowerment.  Over the past few years we’ve created an interactive mobile platform that allows communities to celebrate the spirit and identity of their people through digital storytelling, known as the My Community App

Retention of culture has become an issue for many indigenous communities throughout the world and there is a critical need for innovation to integrate language and culture into community life. The My Community App provides a platform for community members to share their voice and enables them to support their goals and celebrate their story and culture. The App features stories, interactive maps, a digital living museum of artifacts, and information about the community itself. 

The success of these projects is using a community-driven approach. The youth, Elders and everyone in between will have their voices heard while discovering the importance of their culture through digital storytelling. The community members will be given the tools and knowledge to interview each other to capture stories through video, audio, photos, and written text. The focus is on the Youth; they are the new generation who in the near future will set direction, make decisions, and pass along their own knowledge and experience to generations following.

Rachel Big Canoe from Georgina Island First Nation expressed that, ‘it is a way to bring all the generations together to share stories that everyone has about life on the island… and to build that sense of family and community, and pride in who the people are that live here.’ 

In Chesterfield Inlet, the Youth took ownership of the project and wanted to express the issues of bullying in the community. Although, the focus of this project is cultural preservation, it was evident what was needed most was a community platform to voice some of the community’s social issues. From there, the Youth really began to open up about their culture and shared games, songs, and dances they were taught as kids and reflected how their culture has been influenced by Western culture. 

West Moberly First Nation in BC recorded stories and documented their annual cultural celebrations to provide a unique platform for cross - cultural awareness for their partner Teck Inc. by providing a rich insight to the local community’s people and traditions.  The project took on a deeper meaning when their stories, artifacts and videos exposed the pride in the community of their heritage and their identity, empowering people and the community.  It also created a mechanism for communication, fostering relationships and building bridges between Elders and youth.

CES has also facilitated several workshops on using digital storytelling to preserve your culture and it was amazing to witness the drive that Youth have to create positive changes in their communities. One of the younger participants in one of our workshops shared that she was so happy to see her community taking steps to involve the Youth and it was evident that there is a need for the community to work together to preserve their culture. The Elders were also thrilled to see a project that focused on bringing the community together as a whole to preserve and celebrate their culture. 

The My Community App has been implemented in communities across Canada and bridges the gap between generations and cultures in one common digital space. This project instills community pride while preserving culture for future generations to come. For more information contact info@cesclients.com.