Binasii began in 2016 as an educational company, providing job-readiness and software training to First Nations community organizations. At the same time we were helping adults to prepare for the current job market we were training children mobile game development at the Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre. Seeing a current population needing to improve their comfort with technology while at the same time seeing eager young minds learn basic coding with ease truly struck a chord. Studies have shown learning is more efficient and better understood when it is immersive. By using interactivity, the children at Ma Mawi were far more engaged. They were building the code and immediately seeing their creations come to life in the game. Conversely, the adults entering the job market were being asked to learn computer and technical skills in a retroactive fashion in order to obtain a job, not simply for the enjoyment of learning or to complete a task they valued. This really stressed to me the importance of user engagement. It is the reason why book-learning doesn’t work for some, and tutorials or hands-on learning are far more effective. Better still, is an interactive, reward-based learning system.

In January of 2017, we were presented with an opportunity to create a Cree-English dictionary for a Manitoba community. As most community members are aware, First Nations languages are at risk of becoming dead languages in the near future. As native speakers pass away, any knowledge not imparted passes with them. As residential schools have already eroded and stolen language and culture from us, it is now imperative we put protections in place for future generations. At this time we added 5 team members; all developers and designers. We got a larger office. We completed the dictionary and were tasked with making a learning game using the dictionary. We didn’t want to settle for a simple word match, search or crossword. We respect our clients, their communities and wanted to give fair value for the money they had allocated to learning. So we set about to do just that; create a learning app.

We created our first Match Game in March. It uses pictures, audio, and Cree to help develop user’s skill level. Further, it tallies points, scores, and rewards to challenge and encourage the user. There are 6 levels to ensure the user is able to progress in their abilities.

From there we have continued to build dictionaries and learning games, but I’m proud to say our portfolio now includes brand development and identity packages, graphic design services, digital illustration, website design and development, virtual reality, and of course, app development.

Another thing I’m proud to say is that while we’ve been learning and growing, we’ve always been First Nations owned and operated.