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Beyond 150 Collaboration for Change: laura j. turnbull wins the challenge

Among the competing big ideas on Aboriginal advancement, economic transformation, or optimism for the future of Canada, one stands out and wins Deloitte’s Beyond 150 graduate student challenge. This is the last edition of the four-part series produced in partnership with Deloitte. The winner — laura j. turnbull — received a special invitation from Deloitte to join the upcoming Deloitte National Leadership Conference.

Working with a First Nations community on East Coast on self-sovereignty through interactive new media

laura j. turnbull focused her response to Deloitte’s Beyond 150 graduate student challenge on the idea of collaboratively working with a First Nations community to document, revitalize and support the creative endeavors and perspectives through new media.

In the exclusive interview with YongeStreet, turnbull said that a new media interactive project with youth in the community, about six months of training with new media and video artists to incorporate local artists and elders into the workshops, and an approach to this as a true community-led project would be invaluable. “New media workshops might involve learning stop-motion with an artist and a storyteller; a skills sharing with youth so that in six months, youth can communicate their own perspectives, realities and experiences,” turnbull said. “Interactive media might be a great way to achieve this, but if they want to pick another medium based on the workshop and develop something that speaks to them, ultimately, it’ll be up to the community.”

“New media can provide great facilitation, and spaces online that can also be claimed by Indigenous youth, where they can assert cultural autonomy and promote cultural survival through storytelling. A lot of Indigenous languages are on the list for possible extinction, so engaging with the culture and the language allows for another avenue to maintaining and celebrating those languages and cultures,” turnbull says. “Ultimately, when you take control of self-representation, research shows better control leads to better health outcomes, political engagement, communication and other benefits.”
Screen capture from http://neveralonegame.com/game/

Until recently, laura j. turnbull has been living in Yemen, working with the community there and studying Arabic. The new media interactive skill-sharing is the model she has found worked well in Yemen, and that experience has been instrumental in developing the framework for community-led initiatives that respect and strengthen, without meddling. Indigenous scholars have been saying for a long time that Indigenous people aren’t relics of the past; contemporary, popular movies do not speak to the reality of modern times. New media and video allow for a space in which cultures can be preserved but also created, according to turnbull. There are a lot of First Nations artists who are fusing tradition and contemporary work in creative ways, like A Tribe Called Red, knowns for fusing traditional pow wow music and dance music.

“We need to move towards creating healthy spaces, with media and their own voices, and influencing culture and policy from the ground-up,” she says.

The Truth and Reconciliation Report calls upon all Canadians to act, so we all need to do something.

It’s more important than ever before to be an ally, says laura j. turnbull, especially in light of the Truth and Reconciliation Report, which calls upon all Canadians to act. Right now, in Canada, Aboriginals make 70% of each dollar, and in private sphere, with the university education, they make 56 cents for every dollar non-aboriginal person makes, according to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. There’s a huge disconnect, even with the university education. It’s important companies like Deloitte are aware that there’s a corporate responsibility to address these issues, states turnbull.

The feature completes the four-part series on Beyond 150: Collaboration for Change challenge. Please read the first feature here, the second feature here, and the third feature over here.

This story is produced in partnership with Deloitte Canada.
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