Paper Session 6: Emerging Stories and Technology

Tuesday, April 4th: 1:30pm - 3:00pm

Dibaajimowin – Stories from this Land: History, Land, and Decolonial Curatorial Approaches in a Cont


In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ken Seiling Waterloo Region Museum collaborated with the local Indigenous community in the area and researchers from the Universities of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier on Dibaajimowin: Stories from this Land. The impetus behind this exhibit began with the removal of a series of murals, The History of Waterloo County, from public display. These 1950 paintings depicted an industrial and capitalist interpretation of local history and emphasized the settler experience over that of Indigenous inhabitants. Public artwork hence provided the opportunity to create a museum exhibit that might reframe the region’s history and better engage with Indigenous perspectives and historical representations. The research team started with the question, “What would you include in a retelling of the region\’s history?” Through the case study of Dibaajimowin, this paper will unpack the decolonial practice of collaboration, protocols of Indigenous curatorial practice, usage of digital technology and how centering concepts of land and urban Indigeneity transformed the museum’s approach to a history-themed exhibitions.

Our sense of history in this project was not determined through a linear practice of what happens in what year, but rather in how relationships with the land have been transformed and how contemporary urban Indigeneity has been reshaped by this history. With pandemic restrictions in place, the interviews, team coordination, and research process were all facilitated in digital spaces. This enabled us to integrate the nuances of technology into the physical exhibition to highlight the stories and significance of land, relations, ceremonies, and activism. Core concepts like land-based pedagogy (Simpson, 2014) and history as continued practice of Indigenous resistance (Estes, 2019) informed our strategies for the digital recreation of the Grand River, the ceremonial fire, the Kitchen Table, the reinterpretation of the murals, and life-si

Proposal ID: 11088

Bearing Responsibility: The Digital Witness Blanket Project


Paper Abstract:

This paper offers a case study on a decolonizing approach to inclusive UI/UX, education, and content design. The Digital Witness Blanket is the result of a collaborative effort between Carey Newman, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR), Media One, Camosun College, and Animikii. It is a virtual extension of the Witness Blanket, not a replication, and works to expand public access to the Stories of Survivors. It is a healing tool for Survivors, their families, and their communities. It offers a pathway to further pursue Reconciliation in a manner that ensures truth, justice, and hope for Survivors, their kin, and all Canadians in turn.

Compelling people and communities worldwide to consider what action to take. This case study reviews how our team developed a relationship with the community – the content choices and the technical challenges, and details some of our solutions and considerations for measuring impact. The project compassionately includes the voices of the Survivors of Indian Residential Schools, a significant component of the genocide against Indigenous peoples by the Canadian Government. One of the challenges for this exhibition was to immerse visitors in its content in a way that emphasized its relevance, encouraged empathy, and directly connected them to the subject matter. Leveraging first-person testimony, an inclusive content development process, trauma-informed design features, and additional visual, auditory, and supportive components enable rich interaction between museum visitors exploring how to bear witness.

keywords: transmedia, empathy, reconciliation, survivor, indigenous, design
Proposal Url:
Proposal ID: 11061