A Saskatchewan woman has created a board game to teach indigenous history and culture.

"It's similar to the Game of Life but incorporates indigenous teachings and tools," said Janelle Pewapsconias, creator of Neeched Up Games.

It uses humour to guide people through the different stages of life.

Players start off as an indigenous youth either coming from a reserve, a town, or a city. Through the game players will be faced with life decisions, comedy, and trivia as they transition from a youth, to a young adult, to an older adult, to eventually an elder.

It's empowering for indigenous peoples to hear about themselves within games and board games as well as for non-indigenous people who want to learn more. - Janelle Pewapsconias

The first decision players encounter is to decide whether to go to college or start a career. The career path is shorter than the college route but you gain more resilience points by going to school.

"At the end of each game, it's not the amount of money that wins you the game, it's the amount of resilience points, the amount of strength in your character and the experiences you have in your life that makes you the winner," said Pewapsconias.

She got the idea five years ago after Christmas supper with her family at Little Pine First Nation.

"I wanted an activity for us while we were going through those turkey comas," said Pewapsconias.

The idea grew from her family's living room to workshops with youth and young adults. 

"I knew I had something," said Pewapsconias.

She began to build her start-up company Neeched Up Games. She uses the board game as a teaching tool. Pewapsconias works with youth organizations in Saskatoon, and has traveled to Prince Edward Island and Manitoba to facilitate workshops.

Pewapsconias says the business promotes decolonised education and the empowerment of indigenous peoples by teaching cultural history and contemporary lifestyles.

Neeched Up Games

Janelle Pewapsconais runs workshops with youth and young adults using Neeched Up Games as a teaching tool. (Submitted by Janelle Pewapsconias)

"I believe there are a lot of misconceptions about indigenous peoples here in Canada, for example, free education or not paying taxes, or the idea casinos pay for indigenous peoples to live and that's why we don't have jobs," said Pewapsconias.

"My overall mission is to address those issues, debunk them, give identity to Indigenous peoples, not saying there's one pan indigenous culture, but to bring those to light from indigenous perspectives. I feel there isn't much representation in the media or in textbooks that are specifically from indigenous perpectives."

Players learn that indigenous peoples will pay taxes depending on whether they are status or non-status, or work on or off the reserve. They are also educated about indigenous culture by learning about smudging or the meaning of giving an elder tobacco.

"It's empowering for indigenous peoples to hear about themselves within games and board games as well as for non-indigenous people who want to learn more," said Pewapsconias.

Pewapsconias hopes to one day put both a board game and card game into production as well as develop an app.