THUNDER BAY: When I was a kid, when TV had fewer options to choose from, the dose of my entertainment came from sitting with my grandparents at night, drinking hot chocolate, listening to their stories, and sleeping on my voice. Some of the best lessons of my life were taught that night and the next day and every night they shared their life experiences.
From being born in an era struggling against colonization to growing old in an era facing the third pandemic of their lives, their lives were not short of major events and hardships. I remember thinking at that time nights ago: Man, I wish I could preserve these talks so my friends and my future could hear them.
Voila, a smart Indigenous woman from a part of northern Canada, listened to my thoughts and gave life to her business, ORIGIN, where they use the potential of virtual reality (VR) to change the way people they connect with their culture and career.
Fourteen years ago, Melissa Hardy- Giles, the brain and muscles behind ORIGIN, founded the company with the goal of giving communities basic skills and being self-sustaining; the teachings of the seven grandparents who guide the way.
His belief was that everyone has a unique and valuable set skill sets, and the population must be cultivated to create more opportunities for the Indigenous population in Canada.
the teachings of the ancestors, however valuable they may be, could be left behind if they were not adapted to today’s world.
The answer to this adaptation was already in Melissa’s mind: implementing technology.
With this knowledge, and a trip to Los Angeles for a virtual reality (virtual reality) convention, led to the development of a creative business model.
Luckily, when the business model was developed, the world presented itself to the powerful Oculus.
Conciliant with a virtual reality
Fearing that all the teachings of the seven parents would be left combined with a fire to educate people about the importance of reconciliation, Melissa created a cultural library in a pandemic world that preserves indigenous stories on a small oculus console.
We are painted with a brush and I hope that with proper education it can be changed. The cultures of our communities are so rich and, in provinces like British Columbia, they are honored. My hope is that we get to this point someday. The best way to get there is to start highlighting the gifts of our community, which is why I created this cultural library. Everyone in the community has different experiences, some more difficult than others. We started the Share Your Roots contest, which was developed across the country to invite Indigenous connoisseurs to share their stories. A contest that brought a sense of pride and something positive during the discoveries of residential schools in Canada. The winning stories were added to the cultural library. The best thing is that everyone who has headphones across Canada and has a subscription can access these stories, ”says Melissa, with a bright pride in her eyes.
A personal career coach for the community
Now, with Immersive Link, your personal career coach is one step away from virtual, sharing your own experiences in the industry.
Promote women in the trades and make the indigenous population feel safer to put their endowments skill set to use it, Melissa invested in four caterpillar heavy equipment simulators, to give people a chance to try out the heavy equipment and get the often shy community out of their comfortable cocoons.
“There is a lot of construction in First Nations, but due to lack of skills, they hire their own people even though they want to hire the community. These simulators provide a safer environment for people to start and gain confidence in their skills before entering the field. We often take a negative turn at what people can and cannot do. People have to do what they love and consider it fun. To do this, they need to realize what they would be happy doing. Our library offers that, ”adds Melissa.
Immersive Link, which began in October 2019, and in two years has grown to have more than 1,000 schools across Canada that have gained new-era professional coaching experience.
“It simply came to our notice then. We are doing the right thing and we must continue “, adds Melissa.