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Twitter partners with Haida artist to celebrate Indigenous History Month

Jaalen Edenshaw’s custom emoji will appear beside hashtags for the month of June
The Naaxiin emoji, created by Jaalen Edenshaw, is a north coast design but represents a wider group of people. (Image: supplied)

Twitter Canada is using Haida artist Jaalen Edenshaw’s work to celebrate National Indigenous History Month.

The Naaxiin graphic Edenshaw created will appear beside hashtags related to National Indigenous History Month or Indigenous Peoples Day throughout June.

It is the fifth year that Twitter Canada has worked with an Indigenous artist to mark the occasion.

Naaxiin is the word used by the Haida for the form line-designed chief’s robe commonly known as Chilkat.

Edenshaw chose this symbol because it is relevant to Indigenous communities beyond the Haida.

“It’s still a north coast design but represents a wider group of people,” he said.

Edenshaw suspects Twitter approached him for the project after they saw the collection of Haida emojis he created in 2020 in collaboration with Geoff Horner. The set has over 60 downloadable icons, including faces, symbols and common expressions.

Emojis have become a major form of communication, but they all have the same visual style, he explained.

He wanted to give options for young people to communicate with their own Haida aesthetic and stories.

For Edenshaw, it was a fun project saying he tries not to take himself too seriously.

“Everyone seems to like them,” he said.

Edenshaw and his brother, Gwaai Edenshaw, co-founded K’alts’ida K’ah (Laughing Crow), a collective to tell Haida stories and promote the Haida language through art. They have a workshop in Masset, B.C.

While he doesn’t use Twitter or emojis himself, Edenshaw said his kids do.

Gwaii added that he created a Twitter account for their collective but swiftly forgot the password.

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

 Kaitlyn Bailey | Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
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