Biidaaban showcases Toronto, Canada through a stimulated VR time jump. In this way, participates are able to both experience the Toronto of the past, and the future. In so doing, participants are encouraged to think critically about their place in Canada in relation to other entities (such as nature, and history).
In addition to this, throughout the duration of the simulation, participants become exposed to traditional Indigenous languages. This is done purposefully so as to allow the language of Indigenous peoples to convey the full knowledge of its speakers. Indigenous languages carry with them, and embody relationships to the land, time, and to one another. At one crucial point in the simulation, various different Indigenous languages can be heard talking together, as a collective.
Taught by Professor Cheryl Schramm, ECOR1055 (Introduction to Computer Systems Engineering) provides students with the opportunity to overview various professional activities related to their given studies, and as such, introduces them to the profession. This week’s class, however, was somewhat different. Rather than being in their typical lecture-style classroom, students were gathered around in rolling chairs at the Discovery Centre, next to the Gaming Lab. In the Gaming Lab, the Discovery Centre had installed the National Film Board (NFB) virtual reality experience of Biidaabaan – First Light. The user is plunked down in the heart of Toronto, but in the future – a future that has been imagined from an Indigenous perspective.
This particular class challenged students to include, and consider Indigenous knowledge and culture as part of their profession. The students were introduced to appropriate terminology, and current affairs using the Carleton Indigenous Learning Bundle, an online resources created by Professor Kahente Horn-Miller. While a continuous stream of students filed through the Biidaabaan VR experience, the students came to know about the importance and relevance of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Guest speaker Professor Manuel Baez spoke during the class. Professor Baez is an associate professor in Architecture. His research “explores the relationships between design, culture and the evolution of structural, technological and scientific innovations”. More information can be found here. The class was able to learn from Dr. Baez’s expertise, and draw links between how relations people and their associated environments past, and future. Dr. Baez also added a complementary tale of his work on the Gather-Ring, an art installation that reflects on the rich history of the Algonquin peoples and their land here in the Ottawa area.
The Discovery Centre is home to many games, including Biidaaban. Faculty, students, and community members are welcome to book the gaming lab for themselves, as part of a group/club, etc. The Gaming Lab is equipped with two 3-D capable gaming computers and multiple gaming consoles. The room also houses a couple of 3-D Printers administered by Discovery Centre staff.
With information adapted from: https://www.nfb.ca/interactive/biidaaban_first_light/
Thank you to Professor Cheryl Schramm for organizing this event.