“Tradition always evolves, and it is participatory.”

–Jason Edward Lewis

At our core, imagineNATIVE’s mandate is to respect story in every form: the integrity, and intention, and perspective of artists as channeled through screen-based storytelling. Over the past two decades, imagineNATIVE has played a crucial role for Indigenous-made media, developing platforms for artists to assert their voice, express their perspectives, and share their cultures.

Following these successes for film, our next step is creating an ecosystem where new media practitioners can experiment and thrive. This means creating opportunities for maximum inclusion across the spectrum of media, building capacity within interactive programming, and cultivating talent through professional and creative development initiatives.

The submissions we receive for Digital + Interactive are as diverse as the communities we serve: solo and social VR, mixed reality, video games, interactive fiction, and web-based experiences. The stories channeled through these media are just as varied; grounded in the teachings of the past, speaking to contemporary perspectives, and looking ahead to vibrant Indigenous futures. We cannot anticipate what new forms will emerge to help us tell our stories, but we can create enriching spaces for them to bud and blossom.

This year’s online shift is centered around accessibility and reduction of barriers, creating the space to imagine new futures and creative possibilities: bringing innovative forms of media to new audiences, and allowing Indigenous perspectives to impact emerging platforms.

There are conceptual and practical challenges associated with this undertaking: Canada’s digital divide means a lack of basic internet access for many First Nations, and digital literacy is unbalanced across age groups. How can we navigate these radically different and layered realms with a firm foundation in our cultural worldviews?

As with every initiative, it is our imperative to approach this undertaking responsibly, and in care of our communities. Cutting edge does not mean cut-throat; instead, we approach technology and media as keys to connecting both within and across nations. They allow us to stay inspired, to flourish in contemporary dialogues, and to build collaboratively towards our imagined futures. It is with these tools and a flexible, open-hearted approach that we engage with tradition; shaping it to meet us where we are, and to carry forward.