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TVO.org talks to three Indigenous creators — of video games, apps, online archives, and more — about how they’re working to develop richer, more inclusive online spaces

Indigenization is an evolving concept, and, as such, it can be tricky to define.

The Memorial University Gazette defines it as “change led by Indigenous people to bring Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing into spaces that are not designed for those ways.” An Indigenous cultural-competency training document from the City of Toronto calls it “the intentional process of remaking inherited structures and processes in ways that acknowledge and respect, and include Indigenous worldview, knowledge systems, values, and approaches.”

Niigaan Sinclair, a professor of Native studies at the University of Manitoba, refers to it simply as “the process of building our own institutions with Indigenous voices at the centre.”

The term is often applied to changes being introduced at post-secondary institutions, but it also describes the ways in which Indigenous creators — of video games, dating apps, online archives, and more — are shaping the digital world. 

TVO.org spoke with three such creators about empowering Indigenous people and developing a richer, more inclusive digital space.

Brad Pine, a member of Garden River First Nation, is the owner of Etribe Network — the company behind RezFox, a dating app; Tipi BnB, an Indigenous homestay experience; and Waboos, a search engine that populates only with Indigenous results.

Etribe is a work in progress. Waboos has been around for years, but Pine hopes to see the number of listings increase. Currently, between 200 and 300 First Nations businesses are accessible on the site; by 2020, he aims to raise that number to 50,000.

The company also recently relaunched RezFox. Like many of Etribe’s other endeavours, Pine says, RezFox is intended to serve a bigger purpose — education. “RezFox is not just about Natives dating Natives,” he says. “If there's a non-Native person who wants to go on RezFox, or any of our sites, and actually have a conversation with First Nations, they can.”

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