Haida artist and craftsman Jaalen Edenshaw, with the help of Geoffrey Horner, has created a set of 36 emojis that reflect old Haida stories, Haida expressions, and existing emojis with Haida-style art. (Photo courtesy of Jaalen Edenshaw)

B.C. artist creates special Haida emojis in new phone app

Jaalen Edenshaw says it is one small step to keeping culture and language alive on Haida Gwaii

Those who prefer to communicate by text will now be able to express their emotions in Haida, following the integration of Haida art with regular day-to-day communications.

Haida artist and craftsman Jaalen Edenshaw, with the help of Geoffrey Horner, has created a set of 36 emojis that reflect the Haida culture.

Edenshaw said he was inspired by watching his kids use emoji apps and text back and forth.

“There’s just so much digital culture that is around us all the time and doesn’t really reflect our expressions of communicating,” he said.

A third of the emoji set resembles existing emojis (happy, sad, crying faces) but designed in a traditional Haida artistic style. Nine feature Haida language expressions like K’w! (expression of displeasure), Waahaa, Sah, Juup, and ii!. The remaining emojis represent inspirations from old stories that are still referenced in the culture.

“Hat’an inaas gya stla k’aalaangangs uu iijang, Gaagananuu asaasii sGa Gaadee tla gyaandangs! This is typing for young people, to use on the internet!,” reads the app’s description available on the Apple store.

UNESCO’s Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger, last censused in 2006, classifies the Haida language, Xaaydaa Kil, (which UNESCO refers to as Southern Haida) as critically endangered.

READ MORE: Tahayghen, Sk’aadgaa Naay host ceremonies to mark new Haida language curriculum.

Edenshaw sees his contribution as one more step in helping the language survive.

“It’s a small effort to keep our cultural stories and language and art used in the regular day-to-day on Haida Gwaii alive. I think it is a fun way to get people interested in our stories and the Haida language,” he said.

Edenshaw’s efforts have been well received since the app launched in late-December. As of Jan. 6, more than 1,000 people downloaded the app, the equivalent of 21 per cent of the island’s population.

Jaalen Edenshaw is a Haida artist most known for his monumental sculpture in red cedar. His major works include the Cormorant Pole, the Jasper Pole and the Gwaii Haanas Legacy Pole. (photo courtesy of Jaaleen Edenshaw)

Edenshaw also acknowledged the work of Horner, who helped him vectorize his hand drawings so they could be digitized into an app. The whole process took several months of on-and-off work.

The app is called Haida Emoji and so far is only available for iPhone, though Edenshaw said he is working to get it on Android as well.

Edenshaw said he will also be working on a second set of emojis and is hoping to collaborate with another artist, whose identity he is keeping confidential for the time being.

In the meantime, the renowned artist is working on a 33-foot long dugout canoe for the island.

Users can search for Haida Emoji on the Apple store to download it and they are g2g!

READ MORE: Endenshaw brothers unveil replica of Great Box


Jenna Cocullo | Journalist
Jenna Cocullo 
Send Jenna email
email
Like the Haida Gwaii Observer on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Feds and Chamber of Commerce team up to support businesses

PRDCC is offering weekly conference calls to business in Prince Rupert

Fire on Third Ave. in Prince Rupert

Prince Rupert Fire Rescue crew attended the hotel

Fisheries and Oceans Canada lifts at-sea observer requirements due to COVID-19

Fisheries Management Order went into effect April 2 and will remain for 45 days

Two armed robberies with-in a day

RCMP are asking for information

B.C. firefighters only responding to most life-threatening calls during COVID-19 pandemic

The directive comes after province spoke with paramedics, fire services, according to top doctor

Here’s how to talk to people who aren’t taking physical distancing seriously

Approach the conversation with empathy says conflict expert

B.C. clears more acute hospital beds as COVID-19 case growth slows

Province holding about 40% of beds empty for peak still to come

As 500K+ apply for emergency benefit, Trudeau says aid coming for Canadians left behind

Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides $2,000 per month

Wearing non-medical masks can stop spread of COVID-19 before symptoms start: Tam

Health officials had previously not recommended wearing them

UPDATE: UK PM Boris Johnson moved to intensive care after COVID-19 symptoms worse

He has been quarantined in his Downing St. residence since being diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26

Travellers, travel agents ‘in agony’ over refund policies and customer service

Many Canadian carriers are offering customers flights rebookings or travel vouchers — but not refunds

Introverted and extroverted kids likely to react differently to COVID-19 restrictions

B.C. child psychologist says your parenting approach can’t be one-size fits all in social isolation

B.C. begins taking submissions for $2M COVID-19 research fund

Rural health, impact of shifting hospital resources among priorities

Most Read