Students from the Louis Riel School Division (LRSD) can now gain a deeper understanding of the Anishinaabe culture and history through Minecraft: Education Edition’s Manito Ahbee Aki.
Manito Ahbee Aki, which translates to “the place where the Creator sits,” is a game whereby players can explore a fun and interactive world while gaining insight into Indigenous teachings and perspectives.
The game was developed through 14 months by the LRSD Indigenous Council of Grandmothers and Grandfathers (CGG), in partnership with LRSD Scholar in Residence, Knowledge Keepers, education consultants and Microsoft Canada.
“By creating space for Anishinaabe culture within this popular virtual universe, it will give a voice to Indigenous peoples in an innovative way that I hope will capture the attention of the young people across Canada and the world,” said Dan Vandal, Canada’s Minister of Northern Affairs during the game launch on Wednesday.
“Manito Ahbee Aki is the first Minecraft learning resource in the world that will allow students to explore Manitoba’s Anishinaabe community in an interactive format. What an informative, engaging and interesting way to explore Indigenous perspectives while reinforcing the importance of digital citizenship,” said Manitoba’s Families Minister Rochelle Squires.
The Minecraft initiative aligns with several of the province’s education priorities and commitments such as advancing reconciliation as well as improving student achievement and engagement.
This digital world includes muddy waters, clusters of birch and cedar trees, the abundance of natural medicine and locations from Manitoba such as The Forks in Winnipeg and Manito Abi, located in Manitoba’s western Whiteshell area.
Students can learn to navigate the map using the sun, moon and stars, establish and harvest food resources, build a tipi, craft a canoe as well as hunt bison to ensure food security for the community.
“Who would have imagined there will be an edition of Minecraft where you can explore an Indigenous community to learn and understand how the people worked in harmony with Mother Earth and be able to visit an authentic Anishinaabe world,” said Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman.
“Launching the Manito Ahbee Aki means that students and educators across Canada and the world will have access to an important resource that showcases a core component of Canada’s heritage,” added the President of Microsoft Canada Kevin Peesker.
The game officially launched for students on Louis Riel Day Monday, at Minecraft: Education Edition’s website.
It mainly aims to educate children aged three to eight and can hold a maximum of 30 students per session if they choose to play the game together.
Non-player characters in the game were modelled after Chickadee Richard, a member of the LRSD CGG and a key contributor to the project along with two LRSD staffs and three Anishinaabe Knowledge Keepers from Manitoba.
“I am grateful to be part of this Minecraft project. It allows us to tell our stories, share our language and share our lands which are sacred to us. I believe our stories have to be told from our perspective,” said Richard.
“It makes me very proud to work in a school division that takes on an initiative like this, not just for the benefit of the students in the LRSD but the benefit of Canadian students,” said Corey Kapilik, principal of Marion School.
Nicole Wong is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.