Inuit sharing ancient knowledge of ice, sea and land with social media app Siku

By Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press

HALIFAX — A social media app geared towards the outdoor lives of Inuit launched Wednesday with features that tie traditional knowledge to smartphone technology.

The Siku app and web platform, named after the Inuktitut word for sea ice, allows users to trade observations about dangerous conditions, document wildlife sightings and trade hunting stories.

It also integrates modern weather, sea ice and satellite imagery, while allowing travellers to add in the traditional terms for potentially perilous conditions using their own language.

The app was created by a team of developers assembled by the Arctic Eider Society, a charity based in Sanikiluaq, Nunavut, and launched at a conference in Halifax on Wednesday.

Joel Heath, the executive director of the society, says the project was born from a desire by Inuit elders to document and share oral history with young people.

Lucassie Arragutainaq, manager of the Sanikiluaq Hunters and Trappers Association, says “we’re copying what our parents used to do, but in modern ways.’’

Through the app, hunters can upload such information into Siku and tag other areas of interest, such as particular wildlife they’ve tracked.

The project was the winner of the 2017 Google.org Impact Challenge in Canada, bringing $750,000 in funding.

Siku is available as an online platform at SIKU.org, while the mobile app runs on Android and iOS.

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