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Animikii at HASTAC 2019

May 16, 2019

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On May 16-18, 2019, Animikii Thunderbirds Jeff and Monica attended HASTAC 2019 on Unceded Musqueam (xʷməθkʷəy̓əm) Territory or at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver.

On 16-18 May 2019, the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory (HASTAC), in partnership with the Institute for Critical Indigenous Studies at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and the Department of English at the University of Victoria (UVic), will be guests on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓-speaking Musqueam (xʷməθkʷəy̓əm) people, facilitating a conference about decolonizing technologies and reprogramming education.

We caught up with Monica and Jeff on their return to see how HASTAC 2019 went, what their takeaways were, and what they found to be the most impactful part of the event.

Why did you decide to attend the event?

Monica: I wanted to meet people who are working to enact social change through education.

Jeff: This event did a fantastic job of connecting innovators and practitioners who are active in developing decolonizing technologies and education. Topics were to include Indigenous futurisms, data sovereignty, land-based pedagogy, digital storytelling, decolonizing computing. It was right up our alley so we knew Animikii had to go!

How did you contribute to the event?

Monica: We were there to talk about Animikii’s new Indigenous Data Sovereignty tool, codename Niiwin, and to do a demo of the tool.

Jeff: We were asked to submit a proposal to present at the conference and once we looked into the topics being covered at HASTAC 2019, it was an easy decision to make. With our focus on Indigenous data sovereignty and that being a topic focus for the event, it seemed like a really good fit to connect with others active in the space.

What part of the event did you find the most impactful?

Monica: There were so many amazing talks and workshops going on at the same time that it was really difficult to choose which one to attend! The talk that stuck out for me the most was the panel on Indigenous Languages and Learning where several speakers, who are directly involved with language revitalization shared different aspects of their work. One thing that stood out for me was that almost every single one of the five panellists conveyed how important and time-sensitive language revitalization work is, given that for many languages there are very few fluent speakers left and they are quite elderly.

Jeff: I found it most impactful to be around like-minded folks from a variety of backgrounds, expertise and impact focus. The diversity of the workshops, plenaries and speakers made the even super engaging. I attended plenaries on evaluation strategy, video game development and an interactive group collaborative music-making workshop. The Critical Make Space hosted artists, digital storytellers and technology innovators in an interactive environment. 

Why do you think it’s important for Animikii to reach out in this kind of capacity?

Monica: At this stage of product development, we need to focus on learning more about what Indigenous organizations need from a data sovereignty product. After our presentation, a few people came up and gave us helpful feedback.

Jeff: I feel that it’s important to convene like-minded innovators in the Indigenous-focused tech space and there really aren’t a lot of events out there like HASTAC. It was important for us to connect with others doing similar things, offer our experience in what we are learning along the way, and hopefully what we are doing is helpful to others.

Which of the 7 Grandfather teachings was most expressed at the event?

Monica: I think overall this event was all about listening and learning so I would say the value of Humility was expressed the most.

Jeff: I’d have to say that there was a lot of Wisdom shared at the events I attended. It was a safe space for people to connect, share and express that Wisdom, knowledge and experience with each other.


May 16, 2019

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