First Nations Digital Jam

Alert Bay, British Columbia – British Columbia

Wednesday, 3 October 2012, 11:50 AM

Early in 2012, Sue Hanley, former coordinator of the First Nations Technology Council of British Columbia (FNTC), attended a student showcase at the Centre for Digital Media in Vancouver. This event inspired her to develop a project to bring together Masters of Digital Media (MDM) students and First Nations youth.

The FNTC worked with faculty at the Centre for Digital Media (CDM) to develop the First Nations Digital Jam. This event took place in Alert Bay, British Columbia between February 17 and 19, 2012. The project was supported by the FNTC, CDM, and the Public Guardian and Trustee of British Columbia.

The Namgis First Nation in Alert Bay is committed to ensuring community access to a reliable Information and Communications Technology (ICT) network. They have a long history of providing services to the administration and residents of the community. Their success in this process led to the creation of “Building an ICT Network: A Guide for Small and Remote First Nations Communities”. This guide is intended to help other First Nations communities through the process of building a local network within their community.

The strong involvement with ICT made Alert Bay an ideal site for the First Nations Digital Jam. The workshop included three students and one faculty member from MDM, and approximately 15 young people from Alert Bay. The workshop aimed to provide First Nations youth with useful and transferable computer skills in an energetic and fun way.

The First Nations Digital Jam

MDM students and faculty mentored youth in programs such as Photoshop and GameSalad. Breaking into teams, the youth had 48 hours to design a video game. The game followed a theme of financial literacy, which the FNTC selected. They felt that along with IT skills, the Digital Jam would provide an engaging and unique approach to teaching youth about money management.

John Pantherbone, from Alberta’s Blood Tribe – Kanai, was one of the MDM students that helped facilitate the workshop. He had a great experience working with the youth in Alert Bay.

“I feel that events like the First Nations Digital Jam, and the InDigital Conference where I was recently a speaker, can help empower First Nations youth and teach them to embrace and utilize technology”, he said. John also produced a First Mile video about the network in his home community.

Find out more

Watch a run through of one of the games created during the Digital Jam