First of its kind video game highlights Anishinaabe culture

WINNIPEG — A first of its kind video game is connecting students around the world to traditional teachings and stories of the Anishinaabe community in Manitoba.

It took 14 months to come to life and is called Manito Ahbee Aki, which translates into “the place where the creator sits.” The game was developed by Microsoft, Minecraft: Education Edition and the Louis Riel School Division.

“It was really fun for me. I have played Minecraft all my life and it’s fun to test something new and exciting that they can develop into the game,” said Colin, a Grade 6 student at Highbury School.

The collaboration with the Louis Riel School Division, the division’s Indigenous Council, and Anishinaabe Knowledge Keepers gives a new interactive cultural experience for students and teachers like Mark Lesiuk.

“It has just opened up my eyes as an educator and as somebody who was born and raised in Winnipeg about what actually was going on here. When we talk about European contact the word ‘interruption’ comes up,” said Lesiuk. “This is the first time that word was really put into perspective for me.”

The game is a teaching resource, which transports students to Manito Ahbee, a site located in the province’s western Whiteshell area, before European colonization.

Chickadee Richard, who sits on the Louis Riel School Division’s Indigenous Council of Grandmothers and Grandfathers, is a character in the game.

She said it is important for students to learn about Anishinaabe culture in as many ways as possible.

“My hope is that it will raise the consciousness of all people, the teachers, the ones who took part in it, the children, to understand we have a rich and vibrant and strong culture,” said Richard.

More importantly, she said it engages young people.

“Our history is in the land, language and the songs, and ceremonies it was important they have accurate information about our experiences,” said Richard.

The game officially launches on February 15, Louis Riel Day.

It will be available for educators and students worldwide through the Minecraft education website.

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