"Nothing about us, without us": an investigation into the justification for Indigenous peoples to be involved in every step of Indigenous digital product design

Charly Harbord, Patrick C.K. Hung, Ruth Falconer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

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This paper focuses on the experiences of built coalitions between the authors, students and the Indigenous peoples involved in a study of digital design. Ontario Tech University has been working with the Indigenous communities of the First Nations in Ontario, Canada. The report begins with a brief overview of the issues faced by the Indigenous communities in Canada. For example, retaining their traditional language, knowledge, and culture on their traditional lands. The paper then outlines the study's design and methods to understand how technology may help the Indigenous community address these issues. To do this, the authors set up a course project for 21 graduate students in Computer Science at Ontario Tech University in Winter 2021. The students were formed into nine groups. Each group was assigned the design and development an interactive design product prototype that would address some of the Indigenous community’s social issues considering user experience and co-design from the outset. Lastly, the report shares the findings of the study and discusses the success of ‘Nothing about us, without us’ and how the prototypes may ameliorate the issues faced by the Indigenous peoples. The takeaway that we aim for is an understanding that no matter how honourable it may seem to create something on their behalf, it is essential to involve the primary culture/language speakers. We also intend to create a model for this mutual collaboration which then can be pursued to enable mutually respectful relationships. Following the old adage, “give a man an app, and he will use it for one day, teach a man to design an app and he will share it with the world.”
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 39th ACM International Conference on the Design of Communication
Subtitle of host publicationSIGDOC2021
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages5
ISBN (Print)9781450386289
Publication statusPublished - 12 Oct 2021
EventThe 39th ACM International Conference on Design of Communication: Advocacy, Accountability, and Coalitions Across Contexts - hybrid conference: virtual presentations with in-person meetup hubs across 8 locations worldwide
Duration: 12 Oct 202114 Oct 2021
Conference number: 39th


ConferenceThe 39th ACM International Conference on Design of Communication
Abbreviated titleSIGDOC ’21
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