New board game store aims to create inclusive space

A new Indigenous-owned board game store in Edmonton aims to create an inclusive community where everyone can have fun.

Pe Metawe Games opened earlier this month in the Alberta Avenue neighborhood. The Cree name translates to “come on and play” and features the Cree syllabic script used in its marketing materials.

“We want to work with marginalized groups and support marginalized groups of all demographics,” Whitefish Lake First Nation co-owner David Plamondon said in an interview with CBC Radio. Edmonton AM.

Part of this work is more inclusive representation. Many board games have a colonial theme and present poor portrayals of Indigenous communities.

“It’s basically a colonial approach to interacting with the indigenous peoples of North America,” Plamondon said of some games.

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Pe Metawe hopes to combat this by featuring indigenous creators in the industry.

Nunami, created by Inuit designer Thomassie Mangiok in northern Quebec, is prominently displayed in the boutique and a few copies are distributed to guests in the community. A developing sci-fi role-playing game that imagines a North America where colonization never took place called Coyote and Crow is another game Pe Metawe is keen to support.

It also aims to increase the representation of other marginalized communities. When ordering copies of the relationship game Fog of Love, Plamondon said they were sure to get the covers featuring same-sex couples.

“It’s just an approach that is really close to our hearts as an Indigenous organization, as an organization that has always been very community-oriented.

Co-owner David Plamondon with a few games on display, including the game designed by Inuit Nunami. (Submitted by David Plamondon)

The location on Alberta Avenue also opens up the hobby to those who might have mobility or accessibility challenges.

“In the short time we have been open I have probably had at least a dozen people living in or around the avenue who have said how thrilled they were to have a game store within walking distance. “said Plamondon.

“There is already a sense of community around the space we are creating.”

Opening in the event of a pandemic

The space has two private gaming tables for rent as well as an open community gaming space with demo games for a fee per person – or at least will be in the future.

“We were very clear with our team, with our customers [and] with our customers that we are very risk averse when it comes to dealing with the pandemic, ”said Plamondon.

But COVID-19 has allowed his other company, Pe Metawe Consulting, to expand its geographic reach through virtual sessions. The group worked with various Treaty 8 organizations, using table games in workshops to engage and develop life skills for indigenous youth.

The store came as a result of this business.

Plamondon began discussing the company at the end of 2019 with its business partner, Jayde Gravel. Through their work, they discovered that many game distributors would only work with a company if they had a physical store.

They successfully applied for a grant from the Alberta Indian Investment Corporation and signed a lease in November.

“We’ve just done the renovations, strengthened our presence in the gaming community,” said Plamondon, adding that they were looking for different community partners to help build their vision.

Sales are not at the center of the gaming space, according to Plamondon.

“We just want people to come in and interact with the space, ask questions and learn more about the hobby. It’s really about trying to lower the barriers to the hobby for everyone,” did he declare.

“All we really want to do is just create a community space where people feel welcome and feel included. “