New made-in-Nunavik app takes users on the land, in Inuttitut
“I wanted players to reflect on what they’ve experienced and learned"
Thinking about heading out on the land this weekend?
Inuktitut-speaking Android and iOS users have a new tool at their fingertips that allows them to navigate through an Arctic adventure in their mother tongue.
Ivujivik graphic designer Thomassie Mangiok, of Pirnoma Technologies, has launched a new app — one he hopes will tell a story about Inuit culture.
The made-in-Nunavik app, called Inuit unikkausiliurusingit, loosely translates to “how Inuit create their stories.”
It’s a 36-page animated story about a mother, father and daughter navigating through a life of the past, out on the land.
Users encounter challenges and games along the way — players can do a “puzzle” by helping place scattered snow blocks together to repair a broken igloo.
A few pages later, players can help steer a dog team through ice blocks.
The entire app is illustrated and narrated by Mangiok, complete with recognizable atigik-wearing characters and colourful wildlife.
The app includes original music by Montreal artist Nicolas Pirti Duplessis and throat singing by Evie Mark.
“I thought that everyone should be able to enjoy it — adults and children,” he said. “That’s why I made it easy and fun.”
Mangiok’s two daughters, aged three and 11, both helped test out the product.
“Two of my daughters were incredibly patient while I worked many evenings,” he said. “If they didn’t seem interested, I had to adjust it a bit.”
The goal of the app, Mangiok said, is to remind users to have an open mind and prepare for unforeseen events, especially when out hunting or fishing.
In the final pages of the story, a mysterious uncle and shaman “Angakku” asks his niece Avingnga to make a story and song of what she experienced and learned through her travels.
As Inuit traditionally had no books, Mangiok said, they passed information on orally, sometimes through song.
“I wanted players to reflect on what they’ve experienced and learned,” he said.
This isn’t Mangiok’s first digital creation; he also designed “Sunaunaa?”another free app that teaches users how to properly pronounce words in Inuttitut.
It’s one of many projects the graphic designer and language advocate has been working on to help promote the Inuit language and traditions in more mainstream culture.
“I had this feeling we needed more Inuktitut-language content,” Mangiok said. “We’re surrounded by English content — the information we’re absorbing through television and video games is always about another culture. I’m trying to give them something about our own culture.”
Mangiok designed Inuit unikkausiliurusingit with the help of a grant from the Avataq Cultural Institute, although he ended up investing much of his own time in the app.
The free app is available on Android through the Google Play Store and for the first time on iOS through iTunes.
Mangiok hopes to translate the app in English and French later this year, which he said would be available for a fee.
“This way I would encourage people to go through it in the original language and promote Inuktitut,” he said.