Manito Ahbee Aki
Players in Manito Ahbee Aki, which translates to "the place where the Creator sits" in English, are transported to Manito Ahbee, a site located in Manitoba's western Whiteshell area, before European contact in North America.
"In the true spirit and intent of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action, this project gives students in our schools and around the world an opportunity to learn and develop a deeper understanding about an Indigenous nation in Canada," said Christian Michalik, LRSD Superintendent.
To create an authentic experience, members of the LRSD Indigenous Council of Grandmothers and Grandfathers (CGG), along with Frank Deer, LRSD Scholar in Residence, and Knowledge Keepers from the Manitoba Anishinaabe community, guided and informed the development of the project. After 14 months of development with stakeholders in Canada, the United States and Australia, Manito Ahbee Aki allows players to explore a fun and interactive world while gaining insight into Indigenous teachings and perspectives.
"Seeing my People and our ways of knowing and being captured in this game and having our traditions and culture told in a good way makes me very proud," said Chickadee Richard, a member of the LRSD CGG and a key contributor to the project. "I am one of the non-player characters (NPC) in the game who students will speak to for information that will help them explore and understand the Anishinaabe world we've built for them. This is the first-time students will be able to interact with an authentic representation of our Peoples history and way of life."
Minecraft: Education Edition is a game-based learning platform that helps build key 21st-century skills such as coding and creative problem-solving. Several teachers in LRSD use the platform to help students explore learning on various topics. Microsoft offers free access to Microsoft 365 and Teams for Education to schools as part of the company's ongoing support for educators, especially during remote and hybrid learning. Today, more than 200 million students, faculty, institutional leaders and teachers are actively using Microsoft Education.
"As an Indigenous educator and Indigenous parent, there aren't a lot of resources that show our people, culture and practices in a respectful way—but this game changes that," said Bobbie-Jo Leclair, LRSD Itinerant Indigenous Education Consultant and one of the NPC's in Manito Ahbee Aki. "Not only will this game inspire and engage Indigenous students who don't see themselves reflected in games, but it also provides an opportunity for all people to learn how Anishinaabe people respected the earth and all living things."
The Anishinaabe digital world includes flora, fauna and locations from Manitoba that were specially created for this world and did not exist in any other Minecraft property. The non-player characters (NPC) in the game are also unique and are modelled after Grandmother Chickadee, two LRSD staff and three Anishinaabe Knowledge Keepers from Manitoba.