Digital Equity and Community Control in Northern Ontario Launch of Community Conversations

Indige­nous Cul­ture and Media Inno­va­tion (ICMI) and The Media Arts Net­work of Ontario (MANO) are pleased to announce the launch of a col­lab­o­ra­tive com­mu­ni­ty-based project in North­ern Ontario. While each orga­ni­za­tion is man­ag­ing dis­tinct research projects, work in the region and a shared inter­est in dig­i­tal media brought the orga­ni­za­tions togeth­er to col­lab­o­rate. Orig­i­nal­ly con­ceived as a series of work­shops and con­sul­ta­tions con­nect­ing region­al and local needs, the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic has encour­aged us to decen­tral­ize the process. MANO and ICMI have recruit­ed paid facil­i­ta­tors and advi­sors to car­ry out con­ver­sa­tions with­in their com­mu­ni­ties and net­works to dis­cuss needs and strate­gies for dig­i­tal tools and infrastructure.

ICMI was cre­at­ed out of a rec­og­nized need for Indige­nous access to the arts. ICMI opens its doors to the Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ty through pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment, projects, pro­duc­tions, facil­i­ties, and equip­ment. MANO, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of artist-run col­lec­tives and orga­ni­za­tions across Ontario, works to sup­port coop­er­a­tive own­er­ship of the tools for artis­tic pro­duc­tion, exhi­bi­tion, and dis­tri­b­u­tion by communities. 

Both orga­ni­za­tions are com­mit­ted to the vital role of com­mu­ni­ty con­trol and own­er­ship in the research and devel­op­ment of dig­i­tal resources for artists in North­ern Ontario. We cen­tre equi­ty and col­lec­tive respon­si­bil­i­ty in the devel­op­ment of dig­i­tal tools and plat­forms for the arts in North­ern Ontario. This project coun­ters the per­va­sive­ness of resource extrac­tion in the north (from nat­ur­al resources to cul­tur­al knowl­edge). This project fol­lows the prin­ci­ple of com­mu­ni­ty Own­er­ship, Con­trol, Access and Pos­ses­sion (OCAP) of all infor­ma­tion, ideas and knowl­edge shared through­out the project. 

Each facil­i­ta­tor deter­mines all aspects of their research and con­ver­sa­tions, includ­ing the com­mu­ni­ties and net­works they engage, the par­tic­i­pants they invite, the for­mat, process, and length of their con­ver­sa­tions; and togeth­er the par­tic­i­pants and facil­i­ta­tors deter­mine what infor­ma­tion is shared with MANO and ICMI, and how it will be used. Both orga­ni­za­tions are work­ing close­ly togeth­er with the facil­i­ta­tors to devel­op pro­to­cols for use and access of the research and how it will be stored for the long term. ICMI and MANO have col­lab­o­rat­ed close­ly to devel­op the process of the project and to sup­port the facil­i­ta­tors through men­tor­ship, facil­i­ta­tor train­ing, admin­is­tra­tive and oth­er sup­ports. An impor­tant aspect of the project is the project is to build respect­ful and mean­ing­ful co-men­tor­ing rela­tion­ships and net­works between the facil­i­ta­tors, and to build in facil­i­ta­tion skills and capacity.

In addi­tion to the shared ICMI/MANO con­ver­sa­tions, ICMI will also reach out to Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties for addi­tion­al Indige­nous-only dis­cus­sions about how Indige­nous peo­ple adopt dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies and uti­lize spo­ken word, sym­bols, songs and images to cap­ture, pre­serve and trans­mit cul­ture, lan­guage and ances­tral knowl­edge; and dis­cuss what is need­ed to cre­ate mul­ti­me­dia resources and share cul­tur­al mate­ri­als and what resources can help. 

MANO and ICMI invite artists from Sault Ste Marie, Tim­mins, Thun­der Bay and sur­round­ing areas to con­tact us if you are inter­est­ed in being con­sid­ered to join a con­ver­sa­tion circle.

For more infor­ma­tion, please call MANO at (647) 951‑4810 ext 102 or ICMI at (866) 529‑0260.


Sophie Edwards, Project Coor­di­na­tor: 


Sam Cud­dy, Project Coor­di­na­tor:   

ADVISORS and Col­lab­o­rat­ing Organizations

Hol­ly Cun­ning­ham, Near North Mobile Media Lab (North Bay)
Kim DeBlock Kitchen (North Bay)
Ween­gushk Film Insti­tute (M’Chigeeng First Nation)
Near North Mobile Media Lab (North Bay)
Art Fix Nipiss­ing (North Bay)
Mind­ful Mak­ers (Thun­der Bay)
180 Projects (Sault Ste. Marie)


Antho­ny Baum­gart­ner (Sioux Lookout/Kenora)
Drew Gauley (New Liskeard)
Jack­ie Atkins/Weengushk Film Insti­tute (Kagawong/M’Chigeeng First Nation)
Jaymie Lath­em, North Bay (North Bay)
Lind­say Sul­li­van (North Bay)
Maken­zie Dokis (Dokis First Nation)
Nadine Arpin (Sioux Lookout)
Sarah Nel­son (Anem­ki Wekwedong/Thun­der Bay)
Stacey Hare Hod­gins (Thun­der Bay)
Sam Cud­dy (ICMI)
Sophie Edwards (MANO/Kagawong)

Click for Team Bios.

This project is sup­port­ed by the Cana­da Coun­cil for the Arts — Dig­i­tal Strat­e­gy Fund.