Planning and Preparing a Digital Storytelling Project

An Indigenous Approach

There are some other important issues to consider when planning the digital storytelling project. At the forefront are Indigenous methodologies.

The digital storytelling project is grounded in the belief that First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples’ stories are intellectual traditions. The importance of Aboriginal peoples’ self-determination, their sense of ownership, control, access and possession in the project, must be acknowledged.

The value of respect – for Aboriginal communities, leadership and peoples – and the commitment to ensure First Nations, Inuit and Métis voices are fore-grounded in the project and that the project is carried out by and for Aboriginal peoples must be honoured.

Good relationships between facilitators and participants are built on mutual trust, and nurtured through open lines of communication and a shared responsibility for decision-making.

The outcome of the digital storytelling project will depend, to a large extent, on the relationships that exist going into the project, and the relationships that are built and nurtured through the project. Good relationships are an essential component of the digital storytelling project. The project facilitator, participants and collaborating organizations, as well as support technicians and funders, need to have good relationships with one another, in order to develop a shared vision for the project and collaborate in a respectful, ethical and productive manner. Given the digital storytelling project is a multi-week process and participants will be sharing their life stories with each other, good relationships, trust and friendships will form between project participants over the course of the project, but it will take time for these connections to develop (Stout et al., 2012).

“Trust needs to be established – and this doesn’t happen quickly. For the second project, it took us upwards of a month of meeting with the women to get to that point.”

“We made every effort to ground the process in good relationships. How do I know this to be true? Because two years after the project ended, the women continue to want to work on the project. They welcomed and worked with the second group of storytellers. We continue to present together whenever we are asked. The women have taken control and ownership over the research and the project.”

The proper protocols for working with First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples and communities, such as passing tobacco, smudging, drumming, feasting, gift giving and other practices, should be incorporated into all aspects of the project and followed throughout the life cycle of the project. Such protocols vary across Canada and amongst different First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities.