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Indigenous Artist Jaalen Edenshaw Creates Haida-Inspired Emojis

Jaalen Edenshaw is renowned for his totem pole and carving work.

There’s seemingly an emoji for everything these days — from bagels to dancing girls to those hands that are either praying or high-fiving (or both?).

And now a B.C. artist has created a set of emojis that reflect Haida culture.

Jaalen Edenshaw, a member of the Haida nation, is renowned for his carving and totem pole work. He took his work to the digital sphere to create a set of Haida emojis you can download from the Apple app store.

They represent common expressions in the Haida language, as well as faces with expressions traditionally seen in the nation’s art. Edenshaw says he hopes they help revitalize the language and make it more accessible to youth. In 2010, Haida was listed as a “critically endangered” language by the United Nations.

The emojis were all reviewed by a Haida elder and also feature Haida words like “K’w,” which is used to express displeasure, and images like the Chilkat blanket.

The emojis are already getting rave reviews on the Apple app store. The app has rocketed to #1 on the charts for “Art” apps.

“So 2020! So BC!” wrote one user. “Thank you for these beautiful emojis!”

Edenshaw says the project will continue with future sets and hopefully an expansion into Android, so stay tuned.

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