Unreserved

You don't have to dress up for meetings in this virtual, Indigenous space

With social distancing and work-from-home practices in full effect, an Indigenous space in Second Life is now functioning as a meeting spot.
AbTeC Island in Second Life, an Indigenous world inside a virtual one. (AbTeC)

For a work meeting last week, Skawennati sat around a large fire in some Adirondack chairs — digitally, of course.

It was their first test run of a meeting on AbTeC Island in Second Life, their Indigenous world inside a virtual one.
AbTec Island's Celestial Tree. (AbTec)


"It was my dream come true," Skawennati said. "I've always seen it as a space that can be used as a community space."

AbTeC stands for Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace, a research network and computer lab that works to ensure Indigenous presence on the internet at Concordia University in Montreal.

A Mohawk new media artist and the co-founder and co-director of AbTeC, Skawennati has been on Second Life for around 15 years. 

Skawennati in AbTeC's lab at Concordia University. (Zoe Tennant/CBC)
In that time, she's been the driving force behind a lot of what AbTeC Island is today — filled with nods to Indigenous cultures, including the Celestial Tree, museums and longhouses.

It was primarily a space for Skawennati to create her machinimas, films inside the virtual world. 

But with physical distancing and work from home practices in full effect, AbTeC Island is now functioning as a meeting space for her team. 

It's got a distinct advantage over the video chat method, Skawennati said, because you don't have to show anyone your face, or your space.

"You can be sitting in your underwear, but your avatar can be wearing work clothes," she said. 

Skawennati says they'll likely continue to have AbTeC's meetings in Second Life, and she hopes others who want to hang out in a virtual Indigneous space come check out AbTeC Island. 

"Where else do you get to hang out around the Celestial Tree?" she said. 

You can find directions on how and when to visit AbTeC Island on their website

It's got a distinct advantage over the video chat method because you don't have to show anyone your face, or your space, Skawennati said. (AbTeC )

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