The University of Winnipeg



Indigenous art meets technology

The Aabijijiwan New Media Lab and Kishaadigeh Collaborative Research Centre recently opened at Richardson College

Dr. Julie Nagam, Dr. Jaime Cidro

The University of Winnipeg welcomes the Aabijijiwan New Media Lab and the Kishaadigeh Collaborative Research Centre, a new Indigenous creative and research space on campus that will provide opportunities for technology-based skills training and development for Indigenous youth, which is the fastest growing demographic in Winnipeg and Canada.

I’m excited and proud of this new Indigenous space on campus, which will showcase Indigenous ways of knowing and doing and be a welcoming place for community.

Dr. Jaime Cidro

This newly established space, also available for use by new Canadians and non-Indigenous populations, will allow UWinnipeg to expand its scholarly reach and research into digital and new media art practices.

Together, the Aabijijiwan New Media Lab and the Kishaadigeh Collaborative Research Centre span more than 4,000 square feet inside Richardson College. The project focuses on setting up Indigenous intergenerational and multidisciplinary media labs that will foster mentorship of emerging artists, students, and scholars at various stages of their careers. 

“The Lab and Research Centre represents a profound moment in the history at UWinnipeg,” said Dr. Jino Distasio, Vice-President, Research and Innovation. “It is a stunning space, merging research and community within a state of the art learning environment that will  create a deeper connection in a range of activities set within Indigenous methodologies and ways of knowing and being.” 

The lab and centre were created as part of UWinnipeg’s commitment to research led by Principal Investigators Dr. Julie Nagam and Dr. Jaime Cidro.

“I’m excited and proud of this new Indigenous space on campus, which will showcase Indigenous ways of knowing and doing and be a welcoming place for community,” said Dr. Jaime Cidro, Co-Director of the Kishaadigeh Collaborative Research Centre and UWinnipeg’s AVP of Research. “I’m especially looking forward to inviting our Indigenous community partners to the space for ongoing collaboration and research to engage with the questions that matter most to them.”  

The Kishaadigeh Collaborative Research Centre is a learning space where workshops, events, and intergenerational knowledge transmission can take place. This includes a space to welcome families, breastfeeding mothers, and where children can engage with STEM Tinker LEGO building devices and other age-appropriate workshops.

Aabijijiwan New Media Lab houses four different spaces, each with a specific production focus, and includes an Artist in Residency program.

One lab contains high-end, technology-based production workspaces where visitors can make use of tools such as Photoshop, animation software, virtual reality and digital storyboarding equipment, and much more. Workstations for two large-scale 3D printers, a laser cutter, and a state-of-the-art 3D scanner are all part of another lab, which also includes a portable video documentation kit, sound recording technology, and other equipment for off-site projects.

An interactive lab contains sound proof and coded interactive working space for VR creation and testing, 360-video and sound production, green screen filming and telecommunications for working with communities outside of Winnipeg.

In addition, a maker space with tools for sewing, tufting, embroidery, and beading is housed within the space, as well as workshops with materials such as fabric and hide, with digital drawing, storyboarding, and digital creation integration.

Artists in residency will also be a regular fixture, teaching workshops on topics such as animation, audio engineering, augmented reality, beading, and much more. UWinnipeg alumni Scott Benesiinaabandan, Casey Koyzan, Taylor McArthur, Dallas Flett-Wapash, Glenn Gear, KC Adams, Blake Angeconeb, and Destiny Seymour are among those currently in residence, with more to come thanks to financial support from the Indigenous Screen Office.

“The Aabijijiwan New Media Lab will develop original research using Indigenous methodologies of embodied and cultural knowledge, integrating theory and practice into design and new media, and tracing the application of digital and new technologies,” said Dr. Julie Nagam, the Director of Aabijijiwan New Media Lab and is a Canada Research Chair in Indigenous arts, collaboration and digital media. “Bringing together faculty from art disciplines with scientists from STEAM disciplines…is key, as these types of relationships fuel many of the digital technologies such as robotics and design.”

Distasio also notes, “Drs. Cidro and Nagam’s work will change our understanding of many fundamental areas of inquiry including advancing new media technologies and supporting families, mothers, parents, and children.”

The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and Research Manitoba (RM) each contributed $225,000 to help build the Aabijijiwan New Media Lab. CFI invests in state-of-the-art facilities and equipment in Canada’s research institutions and Research Manitoba promotes, supports, and coordinates the funding of research excellence and innovation in Manitoba. Additional support of $50,000 from Indigenous Screen Office for residencies and creation.

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