Edmonton PR firm creates Indigenous stickers for Instagram stories

The stickers — decals people can add in the story function on Instagram — include words like tansi, which is hello in Cree.

Gwin Communications launched 25 stickers for Instagram stories on Monday

A screenshot of the stickers on Instagram. (Instagram )

When you type in @Gwincomms in the search bar for stickers on Instagram, you now get a number of Indigenous words, patterns and badges dancing on the screen. 

The stickers, launched on Monday, were created by an Edmonton public relations firm Gwin Communications. Stickers can be used in the story function of Instagram to liven up an image or video. Stories are a quick way of sharing moments through pictures or videos that stay on your profile for 24 hours and then disappear. 

Founder Shani Gwin told CBC's Edmonton AM on Wednesday that she had known for a while the app did not offer any Indigenous stickers for its stories.

"We work primarily with Indigenous communities, organizations and initiatives, and we have found over time that there just weren't any Indigenous stickers on Instagram," said Gwin, who is Métis herself.

"So with Indigenous History Month coming up, we thought, 'Well why don't we just make our own?' We have graphic designers on staff. This seems like an easy thing that we can do to contribute."

Now, if a person types terms like Inuit, Métis or even tansi, a greeting in Cree, they get the appropriate decals. 

The 25 stickers were created in April by an intern, Melaina Goos, who jumped at the opportunity.

"I think it's just so important for Indigenous peoples to have representation and visibility on social media and to share their cultures and language," she said.

"I'm just honoured to be a part of this as a Métis woman and designer." 

Shani Gwin is the founder of Gwin Communications. She says the business wants to do more projects like this in the online space. (Submitted by Gwin Communications)

Instagram has been in hot water with Indigenous communities after posts about missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG) disappeared in May.

The social media company apologized and attributed it to a technical problem. 

Gwin said learning about content being pulled and shadowbans — the practice of posts not appearing to the online community thus getting no interactions — was more than concerning. 

"It's definitely something that's been on our mind as a collective in our agency," she said.

Gwin hopes to do more for the community in the online space.

"We're hoping we can in small steps. But this was one one thing we knew that we could do right away to make sure people felt represented on social [media]," she said. 

Since the launch of the stickers, they have had over 300,000 searches for them on the app. 

Members of the public have also reached out to her with new ideas for stickers, she said. 

"Those suggestions so far have been a Métis sash, more Cree words and Dene and Michif language. Even some Indigenous slang and humour references," she said. 

Gwin said they will be incorporating those suggestions as they create more stickers.