Rooted and Ascending: a Mixed-reality Exhibition

Project Spotlight: An in-person and virtual exhibition exploring what the future might look lie if colonization did not exist. 

Creating Representation Technology Activism Possible Futures
A banner image with a model wearing a beaded visor next to text that reads “Indigenous Futures: Rooted and Ascending. Curated by Melaw Nakehk’o. Featuring artists: Kablusiak, Casey Koyczan, Robyn McLeod, Margaret Nazon, Siku Allooloo, Riel Stevenson Burke, Cody Fennell.”

Rooted and Ascending, curated by Melaw Nakehk’o, founding member of Dene Nahjo, was a mixed-reality exhibition, which took place simultaneously at Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre in Yellowknife, NT, and at AbTeC Gallery online. The virtual exhibition includes transmediated versions of the works in the physical gallery and offers a parallel avenue of access to the pieces.

The Indigenous artists in Rooted and Ascending engage with Indigenous Futurism, a social and cultural movement that celebrates the power of imagination, technology and self-determination. They cast visions that describe, often through the lens of science fiction and cosmology, their own utopian ideals. Each artist, whether using technology or traditional techniques, explores what is possible. If colonial oppression did not exist, what would the future look like? Exhibiting artists include Kablusiak, Margaret Nazon, Riel Stevenson Burke, Robyn McLeod, Siku Allooloo, Casey Koyczan, Cody Fennell. This exhibition took place in conjunction with the 4th Symposium on the Future Imaginary.

A banner image with a model wearing a beaded visor next to text that reads “Indigenous Futures: Rooted and Ascending. Curated by Melaw Nakehk’o. Featuring artists: Kablusiak, Casey Koyczan, Robyn McLeod, Margaret Nazon, Siku Allooloo, Riel Stevenson Burke, Cody Fennell.”
Robyn McLeod, Seventh Generation, Modelled by Jada Jerome. PHOTO CATHIE ARCHBOULD.
A photograph of people sitting at tables listening to three people speak at the podium at the Rooted and Ascending Gala.
Rooted and Ascending Gala (August 2021). PHOTO VINCENT RET.
A photograph of a person wearing a beaded visor.
Robyn McLeod, Beaded Visor (2021). PHOTO VINCENT RET.
A digital image of people standing in a room looking at a display of an Inuk with a dog surrounded by flying saucers in the air.
Indigenous Futures: Rooted and Ascending vernissage (August 2021). COURTESY CAMELIA LAYACHI.
A digital image of a gallery room with various colourful images on the walls and floor.
Indigenous Futures: Rooted and Ascending (August 2021). COURTESY SHIRLEY CERAVOLO.

Virtual Gallery Tour: 

About IIF

The Initiative for Indigenous Futures (IIF) is a partnership of universities and community organizations dedicated to developing multiple visions of Indigenous peoples tomorrow in order to better understand where we need to go today. Through its four main components —workshops, residencies, symposia, and archive—IIF will encourage and enable artists, academics, youth and Elders to imagine how we and our communities will look in the future. IIF is conducted by Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace (AbTeC), a research network based at Concordia University.


Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace is an Aboriginally determined research-creation network whose goal is to ensure Indigenous presence in the web pages, online environments, video games and virtual worlds that comprise cyberspace.

Co-founded and co-directed by Jason Edward Lewis and Skawennati, our multifaceted effort includes artwork, writing, lectures, workshops, residencies and exhibitions. Since 2005, AbTeC has collaborated with many individuals and has been generously supported by a number of sponsors.

AbTeC’s roots lie with a project called CyberPowWow, a pioneering online gallery and chat space for contemporary Indigenous art. It was through CyberPowWow that we realized that, even on the Internet, Native people need a self-determined place to call home.

About WAMP

Western Arctic Moving Pictures (WAMP) showcases and supports filmmakers and digital creators in the Northwest Territories. WAMP is a membership-based, non-profit Canadian arts organization based in the city of Yellowknife. WAMP’s mission is to produce, support, showcase and promote film, video and digital media in the north.

WAMP aims to help Northwest Territories filmmakers make the right connections, stay informed about funding opportunities, learn more about their craft and develop professional relationships that will help them achieve their full creative potential.

About Dene Nahjo

Dene Nahjo is a Dene collective, composed of predominantly Dene people, based out of Somba K’e, Denendeh. We came together in 2012 during the winter of Idle No More. When the rallies and round dances started to slow down, we continued to meet, and we eventually decided to focus our energies on connecting to land, and (re)learning Dene and Indigenous skills, values and knowledge as a foundation for action. We believe that by connecting to land, language, culture and community, we become stronger, more compassionate and more capable of building free Dene and Indigenous futures. We’ve talked and worked with many people over the years, and together we are all working towards similar visions in our own ways.


This story is part of the Northwest Territories Spotlight. View more content from the Spotlight here.