New app tells traditional Indigenous stories with games and animation

A new free app called Nitap brings together Indigenous communities' traditional way of telling stories.

The name of the game means 'friend' in Mi'kmaq and Wolastoqiyik

Nitap is a free app that allows users of all ages to play games and learn about Indigenous stories handed down through oral storytelling.

A new free app called Nitap brings together Indigenous communities' traditional way of telling stories — but with modern technology.

The app was created by the Ni'gweg Collective, a group of Indigenous artists who work to bring together First Nations tradition and culture with contemporary technology through art, storytelling, animation and games. 

"We got together, us ladies, and decided we wanted to create a game and share animation," said Phyllis Grant, a Mi'kmaq artist from Pabineau First Nation and a member of the collective.

The other two members are Kirsten Tomlinson and Tara Audibert. 

The word ni'gweg means growth and nitap means friend. Grant said the app is meant to be a storyteller friend, who helps on the journey through the game.

"You'll be able to play a 3-D atmosphere computer game and also access traditional stories that are told by elders in our communities." 

For now, the app has four stories but there are plans to add more.

"Anyone can play it," she said. "Anyone interested in playing games or learning more about stories, even if you're not a game player usually." 

Any level can play

The collective tried to make the game usable for anyone at any level.

"So that's been quite a process doing that," Grant said.

Nitap, produced by a collective of Indigenous artists, can be downloaded and used on all devices. (CBC)

Grant said the stories in the app came from the artists' parents. 

"These were stories we were brought up with our whole lives. It was exciting to work with them, record the stories, go through the whole process of storyboarding, writing the scripts and finally bringing it to life with animation."

In the game itself, Grant said, the user can go on a medicine journey and collect totems and medicine and share information on a sketchbook. 

Connect nation

"We're hoping to interconnect Canada and unlock Canada through stories and legends. We're starting in New Brunswick and we're moving through the Maritimes and into Quebec and across Canada." 

Grant said being able to do this has been healing for the collective. 

Phyllis Grant of Pabineau First Nation is a member of the Ni'Gweg Collective of artists. They've created an app combining legends and stories told by Mi'kmaq and Wolastoqiyik elders with animation created by First Nations artists. The official launch of the Nitap app is this Saturday at the Vogue Theatre in Miramichi. 9:18

"Being able to find a way to engage people and bring them closer to the culture and our visions of sharing stories that are a lot about people and a landscape and to be able to merge that with technology is really exciting." 

Grant said there are so many stories that elders want to share.

"We'll be gathering more stories." 

The official launch of Nitap will be held in Miramichi on Saturday, April 14, at the Vogue Theatre. 

The event starts at 2 p.m. and will include traditional ceremony, drumming, a game-play demo and animation.

With files from Information Morning