Nunavik board game aims to showcase the importance of nature

Throughout his career as an artist, Thomassie Mangiok has aimed to promote Inuit traditional values and the Inuktitut language through the creation of comics and web apps.

For his latest project though, he hopes to bring families and loved ones together over a board game. 

Mangiok first came up with the idea for his board game a few years ago. Tired of the competitive and “capitalistic” nature of mainstream games, he hoped to create something different.

He got to work on a prototype in his home in Ivujivik, located at the northernmost tip of Quebec, cutting up pieces of cereal boxes he had lying around — boxes he normally keeps on hand to eat frozen meat on or for his children to use for arts and crafts. 

The game, which officially launched last year, is called Nunami, which translates to “out on the land.” 

“Living up north, I love nature. We’re basically living a few minutes from nature and we value animals as much as we value ourselves,” Mangiok told CBC Montreal’s Let’s Go 

The object of the game is to find a balance between natural elements and human elements so that the characters do not starve. 

Consisting of hexagonal tiles, players have the freedom to arrange the board however they want. 

“Through Nunami, I thought it would be great to encourage people to think differently,” said Mangiok. 

Growing up, Mangiok’s access to board games was limited, but the memories he does have of playing them are fond ones. 

He still has vivid recollections of watching his aunt and her friends playing the German board game Sternhalma on her floor, just by her sewing machine.

“That was comforting, a source of comfort,” said Mangiok. 

With so many people stuck at home because of the pandemic, Mangiok now hopes his game will bring that same feeling of comfort to people worldwide. 

“Nunami simulates being outside, exploring being out in the tundra,” said Mangiok. “I hope it provides that sense of freedom of being out.” 

Nunami creator Thomassie Mangiok encourages players to be creative in arranging the game’s hexagonal tiles. (Facebook/Nunami)

For people who want to head outdoors, Mangiok ensured that all pieces — including the cards — are fully waterproof so that the game could also be enjoyed out in nature. 

Mangiok, who is a father of three with a fourth child on the way, says the game has also broadened his own family’s board game options. 

And the creation of the game was very much a family affair in itself — Mangiok’s mother and 18-year-old daughter both worked on some of the game’s illustrations.

“It is the first Inuk board game and I am especially proud of it, not just because I worked with my mother and my daughter to make it available, but the quality of the pieces are very high,” said Mangiok. 

Mangiok is especially proud when he sees the box, which has Inuktitut wording on the cover, up on store shelves. 

“When we go to the store, there are very few things with our syllabic characters and my game is one of them,” said Mangiok. 

Since it was launched last year, Mangiok has sold more than 2,500 copies so far. He hopes to create an Inuktitut cartoon next. 

Let’s Go11:50Nunami, an Inuit-designed board game

There’s a new board game out called Nunami, we’ll speak to the Inuk creator who designed it, Thomassie Mangiok. He’ll join us from Nunavik to talk about the game and where he drew his inspiration from… 11:50

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