Walking a Longer Path

Convocating BDes (Industrial Design) student Larissa Peeteetuce has some innovative ideas including a tabletop game based on Indigenous storytelling.

Lauren Bannon - 13 June 2022

Convocating BDes (Industrial Design) student Larissa Peeteetuce has some innovative ideas that marry her passion for design with her passion for culture. This is apparent through her senior design project, which is a tabletop game based on Indigenous storytelling.

“It is a puzzle that’s designed to be completed alongside the creation story of Turtle Island (commonly known as North America),” she said. ”I decided to make the project as a simple but fun way for anyone to connect with Indigenous culture, which I believe is very important in contemporary Canadian society.”  

Born in Saskatchewan and a proud member of Beardy's and Okemasis' Cree Nation, Peeteetuce has spent most of her life in Calgary, Alberta. 

Inspired by her mother – the first person in her family to earn a post-secondary degree – she completed an undergraduate degree in archaeology at the University of Calgary. Though she is passionate about this field, she realized a few years after graduating that she also bears a deep passion for creativity – specifically designing toys.  

“I have always been interested in art and crafts,” said Peeteetuce. “After graduating I spent some time experimenting with sculpture and making figurines which I eventually sold at pop culture conventions. People's joy and awe when they saw what I designed really inspired me.”

Walking a longer path

Fueled by this inspiration, Peeteetuce made the decision to move to Edmonton and pursue a second undergraduate degree in industrial design at the University of Alberta.

“It was a big commitment and took a lot of consideration to go back and get another degree, especially since I would have to move cities and leave my family and friends,” she said of her decision. 

Despite the growing pains of moving to a new city, Peeteetuce found contentment in her design classes, which helped her gain confidence.

“I really enjoyed classes such as furniture design where I was able to create things in the workshop,” she said. “Working with your hands physically to create a final project was way more enjoyable than writing an exam.”

“Design requires you to not only be vulnerable and introspective but also to have a tough skin when class critique days come along,” she reflected. “Over the years, I gradually became more open and comfortable and I was able to gain confidence in myself.”

In addition to design classes, she also found social connections through the University’s many cultural communities. 

She connected with fellow Indigenous students by participating in the Student Union’s Indigenous Leadership Program. She also enjoyed activities offered by First Peoples’ House.

“I attended an online beading class through First Peoples’ House during COVID, which really helped me get through the isolation and reconnect with my heritage,” she said. 

She also decided to take Korean language courses during her first year, and it was during this time she garnered an interest in Korean culture and met some of her closest friends.

Looking toward the future

For now, Peeteetuce is celebrating the hard work of completing a second undergraduate degree. However, she plans to continue her career in design through freelance work and even hopes to publish her storytelling tabletop game.

“I intend to continue refining this project and eventually bring it to the market by publishing it myself or with the help of local Indigenous business partners,” she continued.

When asked what advice she would give other students, she said it would be to try different experiences and find their true passions.

“Educational journeys aren’t always going to be paths that are fast, straight and narrow,” she said. “There might be bends and pit stops, which might go on for longer than you thought – and that is okay!”