Groups in the Beaufort Delta have collaborated to create striking new sets of playing cards – Piannat Inuvialuktun – for Inuvialuit Settlement Region members.
Tamara Voudrach, manager of the Inuvialuit Communications Society, said creating the deck of cards helped to meet the society’s mandate of preserving and promoting language and culture.
The 52-card deck can be used as a regular deck of cards and also doubles as a matching game, pairing up illustrations of animals with their names in three Inuvialuktun dialects.
Half of the cards feature animal illustrations by artist Natkusiak (Kyle) Aleekuk, while the other half provide the words for those animals in Uummarmiutun, spoken in Aklavik and Inuvik; Sallirmiutun, spoken in Tuktoyaktuk, Paulatuk, and Sachs Harbour; and Kangiryuarmiutun, the dialect in Ulukhaktok.
“It’s fun, it’s useful, and it’s informative too,” said Voudrach of the cards, which are being distributed to Inuvialuktun language classes, residents in the six Inuvialuit communities, and beneficiaries living outside the settlement region.
Aleekuk, the Edmonton-based Inuvialuit artist who drew the animals for the cards, described the illustrations as “tattoo flash style” with bold black lines, black shading, bright colours, and simplified images.
“I didn’t grow up speaking any Inuvialuktun,” he said. “This was a great opportunity for me to do everything I love: learn about my culture and draw.”
The project was led by Tusaayaksat magazine’s editor-in-chief, Jason Lau, who worked with a team of cultural and language consultants: Ethel-Jean Gruben, manager of the Inuvialuit Cultural Resource Centre; Mataya Gillis, editor-in-chief of Nipatur̂uq; Beverly Amos, an expert in all dialects; Dwayne Drescher, who speaks Uummarmiutun; Alice Kimiksana, who speaks Kangiryuarmiutun; and Alice J Thrasher, who knows Sallirmiutun.
More cards coming
Voudrach said the first run of cards won’t be enough for every Inuvialuit household to have a deck, which is the project’s ultimate goal. She added the groups are “working on securing funding for more decks of this edition and then printing more editions.”
The first round of funding came from Canadian Roots Exchange and Northern Youth Abroad.
“We just hope that everybody has fun with them and enjoys them with their families: teach your kids, try to memorize them all,” Voudrach said.
Inuvialuit Settlement Region beneficiares wanting to be added to the waiting list for a deck of cards can email Voudrach or call (867) 777-2320.
A longer-term goal of the Inuvialuit Communications Society is to sell the cards to non-beneficiaries, once the society has a website with a shop.
“We’re planning on ordering a batch just to have on hand for those kinds of orders … so decks will pay for themselves,” Voudrach said.
More iterations of the cards are planned. Editions of cards with phrases and greetings are next on the list, followed by a possible math deck for schools.
Stickers are also being produced showing the six communities’ original Inuvialuktun spellings in their most relevant dialect.
Aleekuk designed the stickers, which were funded by Northern Youth Abroad.