Cutting the Ribbon

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.

On Branding

“When you look at a strong brand, you see a promise.”

-Jim Mullen

Your brand determines both your audience and your relationship to them. It becomes a way users and clients can anticipate what sort of products, services, and approach your business provides. My approach to branding begins with determining who you are as a business and how you want to be seen. This goes beyond your products and sales potential by first identifying your goals and values.

Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken”. This holds very true as the most successful campaigns identify and highlight the unique strengths of a community, business, or organization that elevate them above the competition. As numerous PR scandals reiterate time and time again (the recent Pepsi/Kylie Jenner debacle comes to mind), candour and forthrightness are fundamental in brand creation and maintenance. By taking time initially to lay out your strengths, weaknesses, and vision as a business; you are taking time to crystalize the path to success. Having a brand package and strategy that reflects this will help to establish and maintain your relationships with clients.

I have learned to think of a brand as a personality. Always put your best foot forward. A positive first impression is good, but maintaining that relationship is key. Always act with honesty and integrity.

Of course, it never hurts to be good-looking.

A Note On Coding

Coding is like a box of chocolates. You gotta eat it all right away as fast as you can before anyone else can shame you into stopping.

Generally, I enjoy coding. it’s like putting together a puzzle that has no pieces. Sometimes there’s an image on the box, so you can make the pieces you need to put the puzzle together. Other times you have to make the box too. It’s those projects where you really have to think outside of the box. It’s like anything someone is passionate about. Be it painting, sculpting, building, dancing, or anything where you create. You start with nothing, and by the end you have something you made. I enjoy coding because I can make things that DO stuff. I’m too easily bored by the stillness of paintings or the physical endurance of pottery. A program can do anything. It could solve the worlds problems or set your alarm. It could query a database or bring down a nation. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination and your ingenuity.

One day I hope to make something worthy of noting. To change the world in even a small way, in hopes to justify my time on this earth and give purpose to an otherwise meaningless existence. After all, isn’t that what we’re all after? At Binasii, we can take your specific dialect and immortalize it for future generations. Paper disintegrates and people die. Applications live in the cloud forever.

Together we can preserve knowledge for the future and bridge the gap between the past and uncertain future.

Binasii Inc.

Winnipeg (sub office)
314-63 Albert Street
Winnipeg, MB
R3B 1G4
204 505 7781

Long Plain First Nation
198 Yellowquill Trail South
Box 189
Edwin, MB
R0H 0G0