Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts

Queen's University Queen's University
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March 17-25 2019

Mon, Mar 18, 201910:00 am
Tue, Mar 19, 201910:00 am
Wed, Mar 20, 201910:00 am
Thu, Mar 21, 201910:00 am
Fri, Mar 22, 201910:00 am
Sat, Mar 23, 20196:30 pm
Sun, Mar 24, 20191:30 pm
Doors open
Art and Media Lab
Ka'tarohkwi Festival of Indigenous Arts

Biidaaban: First Light VR

MON    March 18 10:00-5:00 ( with Reception, 2:30-5:00)

TUES   March 19 10:00-4:00

WED    March 20 10:00-4:00

THUR  March 21 10:00-4:00

FRI      March 22 10:00-4:00

SAT     March 23 - 6:30-9:30PM

SUN    March 24 1:30PM-6:00PM

Project Creators:

Lisa Jackson (Anishinaabe) is one of Canada’s most celebrated contemporary artists working in film and VR (virtual reality). In Biidaaban: First Light, Lisa joins forces with 3D artist Mathew Borrett to create a future for Canada’s largest urban centre from an Indigenous female perspective. The creative team includes:Lisa Jackson, Mathew Borrett, Jam3, and the National Film Board of Canada. This work premiered as part of Tribeca Festival Storyscapes in April 2018.


Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square is flooded. Its infrastructure has merged with the local fauna; mature trees grow through cracks in the sidewalks and vines cover south-facing walls. People commute via canoe and grow vegetables on skyscraper roofs. Urban life is thriving.

Rooted in the realm of Indigenous futurism, Biidaaban: First Light is an interactive VR time-jump into a highly realistic—and radically different—Toronto of tomorrow. As users explore this altered city now reclaimed by nature, they must think about their place in history and ultimately their role in the future.

Biidaaban: First Light illuminates how Indigenous languages can provide a framework for understanding our place in a reconciled version of Canada’s largest urban environment. Language carries the knowledge of its speakers. Indigenous North American languages are radically different from European languages and embody sets of relationships to the land, to each other, and to time itself. But as Indigenous languages face the risk of disappearing, we risk losing what they have to teach us.

Rooted in Indigenous futurism, Biidaaban: First Light asks users to think about their place in history and their role in a possible future. As they move through a highly realistic future Toronto reclaimed by nature, they hear the languages of the place originally known as Tkaronto. Through gaze-based interactions, users engage with the written text of the Wendat, Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) and Anishinaabe (Ojibway) and gain insight into the complex thought systems of this land’s first peoples.

The VR environment was created using to-scale architectural models of Toronto’s Osgoode subway station and the buildings surrounding Nathan Phillips Square.

Selections and Awards

·        Official Selection: Tribeca Film Festival 2018

·        Official Selection: Los Angeles Film Festival 2018

·        Official Selection: Melbourne Film Festival 2018

·        Award Best Interactive Work: imagineNATIVE Film & Media Arts Festival 2018

·        Official Selection: New Orleans Film Festival 2018

·        Official selection: RIDM 2018

·        Best Virtual Reality Film: Tacoma Film Festival 2018