Being a SpaceMaker: Critical Reflections on Indigenous Digital Storytelling

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Andrade, Priya Jasmine
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Mount Saint Vincent University
Stories illustrate humanity and its relationship to creation, time and place situating us all in an invisible web of interconnectedness. Storytelling is an integral and valued site of knowledge among Indigenous peoples in Canada and is an invitation to (new) settlers to listen and participate in reconciliation. One of the dilemmas is how do we listen and why should we? I address these tensions in my research by centering Indigenous digital storytelling through short films and animation available online and produced by youth in remote and rural First Nations communities in Canada. Using media art as a form of storytelling highlights Indigenous worldviews and connects the artist to their community centering it as a site of power. Media art liberates Indigenous youth voices encouraging democratization for their communities and practicing relational accountability with settler viewer audiences aiding them to become SpaceMakers. A SpaceMaker is a non-Indigenous ally who finds everyday ways to engage in reconciliation. As a Goan immigrant who came to Canada via Dubai in the late 90s, becoming Canadian challenged my relational responsibility to the Indigenous stewards whom I benefit from. Historically, the tyranny of colonialism has ravaged the Canadian social landscape, and, in this paper, I propose the antidote, disrupting hegemony with digital storytelling because it negotiates a collective definition of living together. This paper centers Indigenous epistemology and social semiotics as methodologies to engage media art and encourage reconciliation in a dialogic way in Canadian classrooms and to anyone who wants to learn to listen.