York invests in Indigenous experiential education curriculum

York invests in Indigenous experiential education curriculum

York University’s Academic Innovation Fund (AIF) has invested in Biskaabiiyaang: The Indigenous Metaverse to develop its Indigenized curriculum and create experiential education opportunities.

Biskaabiiyaang announced an investment of $40,000 from York University to support the design of an Indigenous-led metaverse delivering Anishinaabe language and First Nation cultural competency programs within a virtual world. Using immersive quests, activities and learning games, Biskaabiiyaang aims to increase the number of Anishinaabemowin second-language speakers over the next decade. It will also become a living archive safeguarding the heritage of Indigenous Peoples.

Maya Chacaby

The AIF supports projects that advance York University’s priorities in terms of teaching, learning and student experience. Biskaabiiyaang’s priority is advancing the University’s e-learning and experiential education programs. Professor Maya Chacaby, a Sociology Department faculty member at Glendon Campus, is the project lead and Biskaabiiyaang’s chief visionary.

York University’s support of the project will help design the virtual world and develop its Indigenized curriculum.

“It is exciting to see how Biskaabiiyaang is embracing new forms of virtual learning to engage learners in unique ways to preserve Indigenous languages, traditional knowledge and culture. It’s a wonderful and important reflection of the values of our University Academic Plan, York’s Indigenous Framework and overarching commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals,” says Lyndon Martin, acting provost and vice-president academic.

“Biskaabiiyaang is an exceptional example of the innovative work our faculty are undertaking to provide students with a high-quality learning experience. This project particularly enriches pedagogy by exploring Indigenous stories through immersive, gamified learning that both preserves and sparks interest in Anishinaabemowin,” says Will Gage, associate vice-president, teaching and learning.

Since the project’s conception in 2021, Chacaby has worked with project partners York University, the Nokiiwin Tribal Council, and UniVirtual (formerly known as CNDG) to design the Indigenous metaverse both in terms of visual and educational content. Contributors include Anishinaabe Elders, the Indigenous Youth Council and Chacaby’s students.

Chacaby describes Biskaabiiyaang as, “A virtual world where Anishinaabe culture thrives, where even the trees, plants, fish and birds all have something to teach through quests, stories, and the language itself; a place where you can connect with others and learn how to be well in the world.”

About Biskaabiiyaang

Biskaabiiyaang is an Indigenous-led metaverse that delivers Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) language and First Nation cultural competency programs. Through partnerships with the Nokiiwin Tribal Council, York University, and metaverse builders UniVirtual, Biskaabiiyaang archives and safeguards the living heritage of Indigenous Peoples.

The project runs in tandem with the UN Decade of Indigenous Language and aims to support Anishinaabe resurgence by delivering Indigenous knowledge, histories, language, sciences and philosophies in a unique, immersive environment. Through experiential education, learners explore and engage with an Indigenized curriculum and connect with community Elders during social, real-time events. Biskaabiiyaang is a safe space to learn, collaborate, and adventure together, regardless of geographical location.

To learn more, visit the website.