Posts By: Xavier Kataquapit

Under The Northern Sky ‘Whispers In The Wind’

 National Indigenous Peoples Day which takes place on June 21 and the wider National Indigenous History Month in June is a significant time for Indigenous people in Canada.


 This special day was established in 1996 by the Canadian government as a symbolic national holiday to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, cultures and contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples. In 2009, the House of Commons also passed a motion to designate June as National Indigenous History Month to honour the history, heritage and diversity of Indigenous peoples in Canada.


Before this special holiday and month were recognized, Indigenous people were more or less seen as insignificant communities that occupied the fringes of society and did not require any special status or recognition. It was far worse in my parents and grandparents time when they were basically looked upon as a forgotten people and savages that did not really exist in any meaningful way.


There is a great amount of Indigenous history in this country that has to be acknowledged. If it weren’t for Indigenous leaders fighting to protect their homelands, so much of the northern wilderness would have been changed and destroyed by mining, forestry and hydro developments without any regard for the protection of the environment, ecology or even the people that lived on these lands. If First Nation leaders had not spoken up, the terrible history that my parents and others had to live through would all have been forgotten. There would have been no sense of justice or acknowledgement for the suffering my people had to endure for the simple fact that we happened to be a different culture than the one that colonized this country.


This year’s events are saddened for myself personally and the people of my home community of Attawapiskat. In rapid succession within a month, we lost three prominent Elders including my aunt Martha Paulmartin and Elders Anna and Dominic Nakogee. These are individuals that grew up in a very traditional lifestyle on the land and who were raised by parents and Elders who only knew an old and ancient way of life on the James Bay coast. These Elders fluently spoke the James Bay Cree dialect and they knew so much of the history, traditions and customs of our people. I am comforted and reassured in the fact that they all raised a prominent group of sons and daughters that all carry their language and the histories of their families.


The great legacy that these Elders leave behind is in their humble nature and their never ending sense of kindness, warmth and strength. Even after having endured periods in their youth of difficulty, discrimination and poverty, they still shared a sense of joy and happiness with others. Whenever I met these Elders, they were always happy to share a bit of history of our families, to speak our language and to make anyone and everyone laugh with the fun stories they shared. Through laughter and fun, they made every bit of knowledge a memorable experience.
 

Their passing reminds me how we should all remember their example of love and inclusion in the face of adversity. Even as the world changed in so many ways, Elders Martha, Anna and Dominic were always there to remind those around them to stay close to the land, to remember one another and to live life as harmoniously as possible. Their example remind me to always remember my past, to remember where I come from but also to stay strong and resilient to fight for future generations.


 We all share the historic benefits and burdens of this country and the recognition of Indigenous peoples history is just a step in the right direction of that shared past. I feel that this national holiday is a way for us to move out of the darkness of the past and walk together into a brighter future as a more inclusive nation of what we call Canada. Whether we know it or not, we all rely on one another to build this country while at the same time hearing the voices of our ancestors whispering in the wind to protect the land, the water and the very air we breathe.

That spirit of cooperation and the memory of my Elders and my ancestors is what this holiday and this history means to me.

www.underthenorthernsky.com

Secretary Haaland Launches New Indian Youth Service Corps Program

ALBUQUERQUE — Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland today joined Tribal leaders, community partners and Indigenous youth to celebrate the launch of the Indian Youth Service Corps (IYSC) and unveil the program’s guidelines. The IYSC is a new partnership-based program that will provide meaningful education, employment and training opportunities to Indigenous youth through conservation projects on public and Indian lands, and Hawaiian homelands – putting young people on a path to good-paying jobs while working to tackle the climate crisis.

Building on the decade-long success of the Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps, the IYSC will provide opportunities for Native Americans and Alaska Natives to support the conservation and protection of natural and cultural resources through construction, restoration or rehabilitation of natural, cultural, historic, archaeological, recreational or scenic resources. Participants will receive a mix of work experience, basic and life skills, education, training and mentoring.

“Indigenous people have a strong and abiding connection to the Earth – increasing their access to nature early and often will help lift up the next generation of stewards for this Earth,” said Secretary Haaland. “In addition to completing much-need conservation projects that will enhance landscapes and ecosystems on Tribal and public lands, the Indian Youth Service Corps will have considerable focus on vocational skills training, economic empowerment and career development for Indigenous youth.”

Authorized in 2019 by the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, the John S. McCain III 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Act amended and expanded the Public Lands Corps Act to establish the IYSC.

The National Park Foundation (NPF) today announced a new commitment to fund $1 million in IYSC projects, in addition to its ongoing support of Tribal youth service corps projects. NPF is currently funding more than 10 projects from Maine to New Mexico that engage Tribal youth in a wide range of conservation and preservation activities, providing invaluable skills development, personal and professional mentoring and career preparation. Projects also protect Indigenous cultural practices, languages and traditional ecological knowledge used for land management practices.

“The imprint of Tribal history and culture is visible across our national park landscapes,” said National Park Foundation President and CEO Will Shafroth. “Supporting the Indian Youth Service Corps engages and connects Tribal youth to the care and preservation of sacred places across the nation’s public lands.”

Tribal leaders, community partners and several current and former Indigenous members of the Conservation Legacy Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps and Rocky Mountain Youth Corps joined a virtual roundtable with Secretary Haaland and Shafroth to share their experiences in conservation.

The IYSC guidelines provide a framework for Tribal and partner organizations’ participation in the program. Goals of the program include creating awareness of Indigenous culture and history, and conserving and protecting their landscapes, stories and shared experiences for current and future generations. The program guidelines were established in consultation with Indian Tribes, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and other stakeholders. They authorize the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture and Commerce to implement the new program.

IYSC activities can include research projects, oral histories, habitat surveys, climate mitigation, trail restoration, invasive species removal, fire fuels reduction, watershed restoration, recreational expansion and the development of educational, informational or communication materials for the public.

The projects will promote Indian self-determination and economic development and can take place on Tribal lands, or on federal lands where Tribes have ancestral connections. All projects on Indian lands will be designed and managed in a collaborative fashion, including consultation with the Tribal government prior to the start of any project.

The Interior Department is committed to strengthening Tribal sovereignty and governance, fulfilling the federal government’s trust and treaty responsibilities, and engaging in robust consultation with Tribal Nations. This year, the Department is providing $2 million to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, $700,000 to the National Park Service and $600,000 to the Bureau of Reclamation to establish the IYSC.

Chiefs to Meet with Banks and Investors to Attract Capital to Indigenous Energy Projects

TORONTO, ON   The Indian Resource Council, an organization representing over 130 First Nations who produce or have a direct interest in the oil and gas industry, is leading a delegation of Chiefs to Toronto on June 9, 2022 to meet with the investment community. Their objective is to attract capital for Indigenous energy projects and ensure First Nations have equity opportunities going forward.

“There is an idea in some corners of Canada that First Nations are opposed to oil and gas development. In fact, what we want is to be partners and owners in energy projects, and benefit from the development of resources from our territories,” said Chief Roy Fox, chair of the IRC Board. “For that to happen, we need the investment community to be willing partners.”

Ensuring that ESG (environmental social and governance) funds value Indigenous participation is key to ensuring that First Nations can access capital that has long been denied their communities.  “ESG metrics have been focused almost exclusively on GHG emissions. It’s time to give Indigenous participation in projects more weight, if the financial community is truly committed to reconciliation,” said Chief Billy Morin. “There is an opportunity for everyone to win here.”

Conventional and oilsands production have allowed hundreds of Indigenous businesses to prosper and grow. Meanwhile, pipelines, LNG terminals, power generation, hydrogen and carbon capture projects have all provided major opportunities for Indigenous equity positions in the past three years.

“The movement to divest from the fossil fuels is actively harming our economic prospects,” said Stephen Buffalo, President of IRC. “First Nations have solutions for protecting the environment while ensuring we can provide affordable energy to a world that needs it. Instead of abandoning our industry to others with lower ethical and environmental standards, the investment community can work with First Nations to make sure Canadian oil and gas can get to global markets.”

Members of the delegation include Chief Roy Fox (Kanai Nation/ Blood Tribe), Chief Greg Desjarlais (Frog Lake First Nation), Chief Billy Morin (Enoch Cree Nation), and Stephen Buffalo (CEO & President, Indian Resource Council).

In addition to meetings with the chartered banks and major investment firms, the delegation will participate in a panel at the Albany Club to share their message.

TUNGASUVVINGAT INUIT CALLS ON GOVERNMENTS TO ‘DO MORE’ ON FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF MMIWG 2SLGBTQQIA+ NATIONAL ACTION PLAN

OTTAWA – Today, Tungasuvvingat Inuit (TI) honours and commemorates Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ (MMIWG2SLGBTQQIA+) people who are missing, those who have been murdered, survivors and their families, wherever they live.  On this first anniversary of the release of the MMIWG2SLGBTQQIA+ People National Action Plan (NAP), the 2022 Progress Report has been released.

On June 3, 2021, a NAP was released as a response to the Calls for Justice within the MMIWG Final Report.  The NAP was co-developed with a core working group that included the National Family and Survivors Circle, input from the First Nations, Métis, Inuit, and the Urban Sub-working Group, comprised of survivors, family members, front line service providers and experts with lived experience.  TI participated and contributed to both the Inuit group and within the Urban MMIWG final report group.  The core working group ceased to operate following the release of the National Action Plan however, all members have continued to work towards the 2022 Progress Report.   

The 2022 Progress Report highlights progress made over the last year since the release of the NAP.  It provides insights on steps that have been taken and the urgent action that is needed next on the path to transformational change to end systemic racism and violence against Indigenous Women and Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people, wherever they live.  One of the most significant points is the demonstration of how much work remains to be done.

Since June 3, 2021, there has been very little progress made on commitments by any of the governments. With the release of the progress report, we remind the governments that violence against Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people is a national crisis.  Urgent action is needed now to prevent gender and race-based violence everywhere in Canada.

Vanessa Brousseau is an advocate for Missing and Murdered Women and Girls and has been personally affected by this tragedy. Her sister went missing on December 14th of 2003 and remains missing to this day. Vanessa shared, “As much as I appreciate the steps that have been made within our own organizations, it is not even close enough to what needs to be done to end the Genocide of Indigenous peoples. The Federal Government must take accountability for their role and enforce the 231 Calls for Justice. My missing sister’s children along with thousands of other children are not only going without their mother, but without any support their entire lives. They deserve better and we will continue to fight for better.” 

TI remains focused on providing programs and services to support Inuit Women and Girls who are victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, and face threats to their personal well-being.  First Nations, Inuit, Métis and 2SLGTBQQIA+ people, as well all levels of government must continue to work in collaboration to implement all recommendations.

Collectively, it is our responsibility to ensure that Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ are safe and protected every day in every way. We envision a transformed Canada where Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people, wherever they are, live free from violence, and are celebrated, honoured, respected, valued, and treated equitably.

Media Advisory

Métis Nation–Saskatchewan (MN–S) is holding its Spring 2022 Métis Nation Legislative Assembly (MNLA) this weekend in Saskatoon.


As the governing body for the Métis Nation government in Saskatchewan, delegates to the MNLA will engage in two-days of discussion and debate government business and policies as they pertain to all Métis citizens in the province.

Delegates to the MNLA will gather at Prairieland Park June 4 and 5, 2022. The proceedings will be live streamed on the MN–S website here.

MN–S President Glen McCallum will deliver the State of the Nation address after the Grand Entry and Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) Vice Chief Aly Bear will bring greetings to the delegates. Métis National Council (MNC)

President Cassidy Caron and Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark will be in attendance later in the day.

Members of your media organization are invited to attend the official opening of the Spring 2022 MNLA.

WHAT: Spring MNLA opening
WHEN: Saturday, June 4, 2022 – 9:00 am
WHERE: Prairieland Park – Hall C 503 Ruth Street West Saskatoon, SK


A short break will follow the official opening and MN–S President Glen McCallum will be available for interviews.

TUNGASUVVINGAT INUIT CONGRATULATES THE PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE PARTY AS THE NEWLY ELECTED GOVERNMENT OF ONTARIO

June 3, 2022

OTTAWA – Tungasuvvingat Inuit (TI) congratulates PremierDoug Ford and the Progressive Conservative Party on a successful campaign victory in the Ontario provincial election. 

TI is optimistic the Progressive Conservative party is committed to addressing serious issues such as homelessness and housing, low-income individuals and families, healthcare and childcare, all issues that affect the urban Inuit population will remain a priority.  However, we are disappointed with the lack of specific commitments to the urban Inuit population or in fact, the Indigenous population at large. 

It is disheartening to see any serious conversations or acknowledgment related to Indigenous issues in Ontario from any of the political parties.  There was optimism as Canada and the provinces created and supported a pathway to true reconciliation with Indigenous peoples through the creation of a National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.  We are concerned with the absence of commitment related to Indigenous-specific issues that are critical in creating safe and equitable access to programs and support. 

With this newly elected government, TI remains optimistic that through our existing relationships with the Ontario Progressive Conservative Partythat the growing population of urban Inuit will be supported and provided opportunity to thrive in urban Ontario.  Ontario continues to experience a boom in the number of Inuit relocating to the province and the needs of TI to provide Inuit-specific programming are seeing the highest demand in our 35-year history. 

TI continues to deliver Inuit-specific programming that will provide the greatest benefit to the urban Inuit community in the areas of food security, violence against women, housing and homelessness, human trafficking, employment, and family well-being.

We look forward to working with the Progressive Conservative Party and building towards a strong future for the growing population of urban Inuit in Ontario. 

UNDER THE NORTHERN SKY: Going To Akamiski

by Xavier Kataquapit 

www.underthenorthernsky.com 

Many families along the James Bay coast are headed out onto their ancestral lands during this time of year. It is our most important season as so many events coincide that make it a perfect time to hunt and gather food. Even though it is still winter weather, temperatures moderate at around zero degrees which makes it more hospitable and manageable. This is also the time of the Niska, the Canada Goose migration where millions of these birds fly north for their summer nesting season. 

    Several of my family members make the journey to cross a small strait at the mouth of the Attawapiskat River over to Akamiski Island, the largest island in James Bay. The name of the island is a Cree word that means ‘land on the other side’. It is an area that has been visited by my people for generations and many families from my home community consider this island their traditional land. 

    My brother Joseph, his wife Lynda and their sons Orion and Landyn recently made the trip to gather food for themselves for the spring hunt. I was happy to see him and his family make that hunt in the same way our father Marius Kataquapit had done for us when we were young. My other brother Lawrence and his wife Christine also braved the challenges of travelling to the island in the very early spring. They enjoyed the rejuvenating aspect of being out on the land in the midst of real Canadian wilderness. 

    My brothers have established a well built camp on the southern shore of Akamiski close to many areas where dad had once trapped for animals to feed and sustain our family. Many years ago when I visited this family camp with my parents I recall that dad always enjoyed sitting on the high gravel bank of the south shore to admire the vast grey ocean water of James Bay. He reminded us about the many times he had walked along this same shore alone with just a toboggan or a small team of dogs to make this way to his camp or head back to the community. He said it fascinated him to think that he had been there when it was freezing, challenging and he was lonely and with few supplies and food. I understood that when he reflected on his early years it reminded him of all of his fellow hunters and gatherers who survived on the land. 

    Akamiski Island is an important historic place as my people have hunted and trapped there for generations. We identify this island as part of our traditional lands but Canadian, provincial and territorial governments see it differently. As Mushkego Cree, we reside in Ontario but the island and all islands in James Bay are actually identified as being part of the territory of Nunavut. To complicate matters more, two thirds of the eastern end of the island is identified as the Akimiski Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary by the federal government. This arrangement has historically made it difficult for our leaders to assert our territorial rights to hunting and trapping on this land. We are residents of an outside province, on an island under the stewardship of a territorial government that is a thousand kilometres north and protected by a federal government that is headquartered a thousand kilometres south. We do our best to live with the politics regarding this great island. The western third of the island is not as regulated and my people freely use the land as we have always done in the past. This has to do with our ancestral right.

    The rewards of visiting and using this land come with plenty of risk for all those who venture out to Akamiski as there is danger for travellers who risk moving over thawing ice and snow for hours. It takes plenty of skill, knowledge and awareness to travel safely on this land and frozen ocean. Everyone maintains a network of communications among each other to monitor the weather, the ice, the open water and where other fellow travellers are located. People maintain their safety through their individual skill but also rely on one another to stay aware of the dangers. 

    The south shore is much like the northern muskeg river banks with high gravel bluffs, pine forests and fresh water lakes and creeks. The northern coast is a wide open flat landscape of tidal coast land, lowlands and swamp. It is excellent bird habitat and it is easy to get lost in what seems like a never ending expanse of flat land, scrub and tidal ocean water that seems to have no coastal edge. In the midst of this barren landscape are a few large boulders that sit above the silt, clay and scrub. Our people have used them as markers and their unusual placement on the flat featureless land are seen as grandfathers or ancestors that stand watch over the people and the animals that roam Akamiski, ‘the land on the other side’. 

www.underthenorthernsky.com

Passing On Indigenous Knowledge With The Drum

by Xavier Kataquapit

photo by Xavier Kataquapit The Traditional Drum is featured at many Indigenous events and Pow Wows across Canada. These traditional teachings surrounding the drum are being passed onto Indigenous youth. Here we see the Wabun Youth Gathering in northeastern Ontario that brings together Indigenous youth to learn about traditional teachings such as the drum.

When you take part in a traditional Pow Wow, the first thing you notice is the rhythmic beat of the drum.   It is difficult to miss the deep resounding pulse of the drumbeat.  When it is played, it fills the air with an energy that attracts people to move closer to the sound.  It quiets the noise of everyday life and takes over the environment and demands that everyone listen.  When a traditional group of performers are playing this ancient instrument, the beat is almost hypnotic.  It clears your mind instantly of any thoughts, worries and anxieties.  

    Traditional people describe the drum as representing Mother Earth and it is her heartbeat that is heard when the drum is played.  The traditional drum is also symbolic as the mother, as when we are infants inside a womb, the heartbeat of the mother is the first sound we hear.  The drum is a sacred object that is represented and respected as if it were alive.  It is described as having its own unique voice or sound and it is believed to have its own spirit.  As part of this belief, there are many types of ceremonies performed by different Native groups to ‘awaken’ the drum before it is played.  When the drum is used there are ceremonies and prayers that are given by the drum-keeper and the drummers before an event.  When the drum is not in use it is stored in a respectful manner and it is not treated as an object of admiration or status but rather as a symbol of spirituality.  

    The shape of the drum is also thought to hold great symbolism to traditional people.  The circle is believed to represent a great deal of spirituality as it is seen as a perfect shape.  The circle is represented through numerous traditional teachings such as the circle of life, the cycle of the seasons and the shape of heavenly objects such as the sun and moon.  

    The drum in human history is thought to be one of the oldest musical instruments that has ever been created by man.  This instrument is common in many traditional cultures and it is often one that is rooted in deep history when societies were once closely connected to the land and the elements.  

    In many early cultures the drum was used as a tool of war.  The drum was used a means to drive fear into the enemy and to excite and give energy to a marching army.  It was also thought to be a way of spreading communications in the midst of a noisy battle.  A drum could be heard by everyone and it was used to direct forces to move forward, retreat or conduct other maneuvers.  Through the culture of war and its use as a military weapon, the drum was turned into an instrument of competition and so it developed into newer forms where it could be represented in many different ways.  The English, Scottish, Irish and other European countries developed many types of organized music based on the sound of the marching drum.  

    In other cultures all over the world, the rhythmic sound of the drum or the beating of a percussion instrument is the basis for just about every type of music.  Whenever someone is singing or a group of people are playing several instruments, they are following a single beat in the background that is guiding their playing.  The beat may change or vary but is always there to lead the other instruments.  

    In recent years, the basic drumbeat seems to finding its way back to people from all sorts of backgrounds.  In cities and towns all over, I see groups of people coming together to hold communal drumming sessions in parks or public places.  These sessions are great stress relievers and events that allow people to come together to perform a simple task that is self-satisfying and easy to do.  Physically, the energy that is felt when drumming actually activates natural biochemicals that provide many positive effects to the body and mind of a person.  

    There is nothing like the feeling you get when you are standing near a drum played by a group of traditional First Nation drummers.  When an experienced group is playing, they can move and direct your feelings in so many ways.  At first, it captivates you, then it may surprise you or bring a simple calm to your soul but all the while it leaves you mesmerized and relaxed as the rest of the world diminishes.  

    Sometimes as I fall to sleep, I can hear the pulse of my heart in the silent dark.  It reminds me of the drum and it makes me realize how such an instrument has become so powerful in our lives.  What better way to represent music than by imitating the sound of our own hearts.  It is a sound and an idea we can all relate to.  It is a beat we can all dance to.  In that way it brings us all together.

FCC ready to work with customers impacted by avian flu

Regina, Saskatchewan, May 13, 2022 – Farm Credit Canada (FCC) is prepared to work with customers concerned about financial hardship due to the impact of avian influenza, a devastating disease for poultry operations.

“We are monitoring the situation closely and talking with our customers to let them know we are prepared to help them overcome any short-term financial issues that might arise as a result of this highly contagious and deadly bird flu,” said Michael Hoffort, FCC president and CEO. “That’s why we’re offering flexibility for customers experiencing financial pressure as a result of avian flu.”

To date, the virus (H5N1) has been detected in several poultry farms across Canada. This affects live birds, bird products and by-products impacting chicken, turkey, ducks and egg sectors, as well as poultry input suppliers and processors. FCC is prepared to help customer poultry operations directly affected by the disease or by bans placed on farms in the proximity of infected farms, which could potentially lead to cash flow problems.

FCC will consider additional short-term credit options, deferral of principal payments and/or other loan payment schedule amendments to reduce the financial pressures on producers impacted by avian flu. FCC will also offer flexibility and even a combination of options based on the individual needs of its customers, since each farm financial situation is unique.

“We are ready to help our customers through these circumstances that are beyond their control,” Hoffort said. “By working together, we can all play a part in helping poultry producers overcome this challenge. It’s the right thing to do.”

Customers impacted by avian flu are encouraged to contact their FCC relationship manager or the FCC Customer Service Centre at 1-888-332-3301 as soon as possible to discuss their individual situation and options.

FCC is Canada’s leading agriculture and food lender, with a healthy loan portfolio of more than $44 billion. Our employees are dedicated to the future of Canadian agriculture and food. We provide flexible, competitively priced financing, AgExpert management software, information and knowledge specifically designed for the agriculture and food industry. As a self-sustaining Crown corporation, we provide an appropriate return to our shareholder, and reinvest our profits back into the industry and communities we serve. For more information, visit fcc.ca

VFS Partners with Blackbird Interactive, East Side Games, and Timbre Games for $200,000 Indigenous Scholarship in Video Games Fund

The four scholarship winners will receive full tuition to study at VFS and will also receive mentorship & a paid internship from Blackbird Interactive, East Side Games, or Timbre Games

(Vancouver, BC) May 9, 2022 – Vancouver Film School (VFS), in partnership with Blackbird Interactive, East Side Games, and Timbre Games Studio is pleased to present the 2022 Indigenous Scholarship in Video Games, including mentorship and a paid internship.

The scholarship fund, valued at over US$200,000, is open to applicants 18 years of age and older who identify as First Nations (status or non-status), Inuit, or Métis, and who are looking to enter the game industry as developers. The deadline to apply is June 8, and winners will be announced on National Indigenous Peoples Day, June 21.

The Indigenous Scholarship in Video Games is a collaborative initiative between VFS and Vancouver-based game studios Blackbird Interactive (Homeworld 3, Hardspace: Shipbreaker), East Side Games (The Office: Somehow We Manage, RuPaul’s Drag Race Superstar, Trailer Park Boys: Greasy Money), and Timbre Games Studio (part of The Sumo Group).

Three full-tuition scholarships for VFS’s Game Design program and one full-tuition scholarship for the 3D Animation & Visual Effects program will be awarded and may be applied to either the October 24, 2022, or January 3, 2023 intakes. Winners will be selected directly by top-tier AAA studios Blackbird Interactive, East Side Games, and Timbre Games, the latter of which will also select the winner who will enrol in the 3D Animation & Visual Effects program.

Additionally, all winners will receive private mentorship by design professionals from Blackbird Interactive, East Side Games or Timbre Games, as well as by their instructors at VFS. Upon graduation, these winners will also receive a paid four to six-month work contract at their respective studio.

Finally, each of the winners will be provided with a laptop for use during the program and to keep. The winner chosen by Blackbird Interactive will also receive a $5,000 housing stipend while studying at VFS.

“Blackbird Interactive (BBI) is honoured to be collaborating with local gaming studios and VFS on the Indigenous Scholarship in Video Games,” Says Rob Cunningham, CEO & Co-Founder at Blackbird Interactive. “We are working to create impactful opportunities that First Nations, Inuit, and Métis students can explore, fulfilling their creative technology aspirations in meaningful ways. An education from VFS helps open the door to careers in film, games, 3D animation, and VR/AR design, among other fields. We believe that actions speak louder than words and that young people are the future. There is a lot more that needs to be done, but this is a small and important step for just one of our many local industries.”

“Communities thrive on diversity. Whether we’re talking about games, entertainment, or film, we need to ensure we’re including voices and perspectives representative of the community around us. The Indigenous Scholarship in Video Games through Vancouver Film School can do just that,” says Josh Nilson, Co-Founder, Studio Head and General Manager of East Side Games. “As a member of the Métis community, it is an honour to be able to support a program taking a step in the right direction towards a more inclusive creative landscape. While there’s much work to be done, this is a good start.”

“At Timbre Games, our mission is driven by the idea that ‘culture drives creative’. The opportunity to support and collaborate with VFS, Blackbird Interactive and East Side Games on the Indigenous Scholarship in Video Games is a small first step to removing systemic barriers in entering the game industry for the Métis, Inuit, and First Nations people,” says Joe Nickolls, President and Co-Founder of Timbre Games. “All of us at Timbre are thrilled to be a small part of creating space in the games industry for these communities. I believe these students will play a significant role in the world of interactive entertainment in the years to come and we are grateful to have the opportunity to support their careers along the way. There is more hard work to be done in this space and Timbre is committed to listening and learning as we embark on our own journey.”

“It is a pleasure for VFS to be joining forces with three outstanding Vancouver studios to offer the 2022 Indigenous Scholarship in Video Games. This scholarship aims to foster more diversity and more inclusion in the game industry with the aim to have more Indigenous developers actively designing the next generation of games,” says Christopher Mitchell, Head of Game Design and Programming for Games, Web & Mobile at VFS. “At VFS, we are proud of the many Indigenous graduates from our programs who now have successful careers both in Vancouver and globally, and this scholarship is Vancouver Film School’s privilege and opportunity to play a role in emerging Indigenous developers building their creative careers.”

Vancouver Film School is committed to fostering and growing Indigenous representation in the video game industry. Indigenous artists, performers, and storytellers are a foundational thread in the fabric of the Canadian narrative, continuing to grow stronger as key voices within our country’s multidimensional creative landscape.

For more information about the 2022 Indigenous Scholarship in Video Games, or to apply, visit vfs.edu/scholarships/indigenous-scholarship-2022. To stay in the loop on all things Vancouver Film school, follow along on social media at @vancouverfilmschool/@vfs or visit their website at vfs.edu.