2022 A Year in Review
How 4 Impactful Indigenous Organizations Made Their Mark on 2022
As we begin the new year, we are taking the time to showcase the incredible work our partners and fellow Indigenous technology ecosystem members made possible in 2022.
We care deeply about who we are working with, and the “why” that drives them. Finding values-aligned partners is essential to who we are as an Indigenous technology company, as is measuring success by the amount of impact they can have.
In addition, we seek to amplify other purpose-driven and impact-focused companies in the Indigenous space. This helps to grow an ecosystem of Indigenous technology, which serves to drive positive change for Indigenous Peoples around the world.
Read on to learn about four impactful Indigenous organizations that did big things in 2022, and what drives them.
Custom Software for Truth and Reconciliation
The Witness Blanket is a large-scale, woven blanket-inspired work of art containing hundreds of items reclaimed from residential schools, churches, government buildings, and traditional and cultural structures from across Canada. The work is especially notable in that it is alive, it carries the spirit of the stories it represents and was conferred this living status using Kwakwaka’wakw law.
Developed by artist Carey Newman as an artistic creation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Witness Blanket first travelled the country as part of an education tour as a response to the Commissioners’ desire to incorporate art in their work.
It was displayed and conserved at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in 2015-16, and several replicas of the massive wooden installation are still on tour.
Animikii’s Niiwin software team worked with the artist, the Museum, Media One, and the Telus Friendly Future Foundation to create a digital experience of the Witness Blanket. This digital version is accessible to anyone with the internet and can be especially useful for educators thanks to the on-site Teacher Guide.
From an impact perspective, this project was especially meaningful. By acting as a silent witness of the horrors of the residential school system, the Witness Blanket advances the “Truth” aspect of both truth and reconciliation and the 7 Grandfather Teachings by promoting understanding and honouring the lived experiences of residential school Survivors.
The project was prepared with clear safe space features, allowing the viewer advance awareness of potentially triggering content and providing links to crisis lines if necessary.
Bones of Crows
Storytelling Through Website Design
Bones of Crows is a feature film and series directed, written, and produced by filmmaker Marie Clements. It tells the story of Cree Matriarch Alice Spears, played by Grace Dove, as she survives Canada’s residential school system and the following multi-generational struggle with the effects of psychological, physical, and cultural abuse.
Animikii developed a website for the film ahead of its debut at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival, the first stop of a nationwide tour.
Much like the Witness Blanket, working with Bones of Crows advances storytelling of the effects of residential school and contributes to our collective understanding of the truth. This project centres on the value of honesty in sharing stories about the system, since true honesty is impossible without being truthful about the extent of past abuses.
Marie Clements’ film doesn’t hold back in its portrayal of the effects of residential schools. She has been quoted in an interview with Variety magazine as saying “I never felt it was too harsh or too violent, but violence towards Indigenous people is a fact. I wanted the audience to understand it, but also understand the release of that, the release of the past.”
Raven Indigenous Capital Partners
Building the Indigenous Technology Ecosystem
Raven Indigenous Capital Partners is on a mission to empower Indigenous entrepreneurs with the capital and expertise they need to succeed in the business world. Raven invested in Animikii through its Indigenous Impact Fund, a unique fund for purpose-driven Indigenous social enterprise.
In 2022, we were happy to see Raven grow further through a multimillion-dollar investment from the InBC Investment Corporation, part of an investment from the Crown corp. Into venture funds focused on climate change action, reconciliation efforts, and innovating for the future.
In addition, Raven announced its second fund in September (Raven Fund II). This capital will create more funding opportunities for innovative, scalable Indigenous enterprises. This represents an opportunity in the space Animikii operates in while supporting the same values that guide our decision-making. Raven’s commitment to impact supports businesses that drive sustainable change while honouring the Seven Sacred Teachings.
We see Raven’s success echo throughout the Indigenous tech ecosystem and adjacent Indigenous business communities. Raven’s investment portfolio includes businesses like Cheekbone Beauty, PLATO Testing, OneFeather, and Virtual Gurus, all of which bring unique perspectives to Indigenous impact-focused business. We are excited to see these companies continue to grow, and exciting new companies enter the space.
Creating Work Opportunities for Marginalized Communities
This year, Virtual Gurus CEO Bobbie Racette became one of the first Indigenous women to close a Series A round. As a Cree-Métis and LQBTQ2S+ woman, Bobbie recounted the struggle to raise capital in the early days of the virtual assistant talent marketplace, specifically due to its diversity and inclusion focus.
Virtual Gurus focuses on supporting BIPOC individuals, people from the LGBTQ2S+ community, single and stay-at-home parents, and those with alternate abilities by offering stable work opportunities that can be completed remotely.
Although Bobbie has received plenty of accolades, she mentioned in an interview with Daily Hive that her most precious achievements come when she hears feedback from Virtual Gurus freelancers who are able to be their true, authentic selves at work.
We hope for another big year for Virtual Gurus in 2023, and look ahead to a time when Indigenous, BIPOC, and LGBTQ2S+ entrepreneurs don’t have to hear funders say “no” 170 times before finally hearing the word “yes.”
What’s Next? Let’s Find Out
Want to stay in the loop with other purpose-driven Indigenous organizations in 2023? Subscribe to our News River newsletter for empowering Indigenous news delivered weekly.
In addition, we are looking for new partnerships with purpose-driven Indigenous organizations. You can learn more about our Website Design and Custom Software services, and fill out our Project Request Form to tell us more about the project you have in mind.
We would like to thank our partners from 2022, as we look forward to another great year of social innovation through Indigenous technology.