I put together the denefont.com website so there would be a single, easy-to-remember website to visit for all the new Unicode Dene Language “stuff”.
What’s in a name?
I really hesitated using the word “FONT” again, because, as my header tag-line says, “…it’s not about fonts anymore”. However, everybody has become so used to the name “dene fonts”, and it’s so much easier to say those three syllables than anything more accurately descriptive, that in the end, I set aside my reservations and took the iconic domain name everyone already knows. (By the way, if you make a mistake and pluralize it, “denefonts.com” will take you to the same place.) I get to satisfy my need for accuracy by putting the site title “Unicode Dene Keyboards” in 30-point all caps.
Unlike the WinMac Dene Fonts, which I pretty much cobbled together on my own in 1995, Unicode Dene Keyboards are slick, sophisticated, and were developed through a very high degree of collaboration between many of the Dene Language stakeholders. As the system developed, parts of it appeared on different people’s websites, sometimes with tricky URL’s. Chris Harvey, our Languagegeek super-hero, has the keyboards and PDF documentation links at languagegeek.com in the sub-directory /dene/keyboards/romdene.html at anchor #NWTDene, but that’s complicated to explain to someone who phones for support. Recently, Rajiv Rawat generously created the converter for us at the Protected Areas Strategy website, but on a page not connected to their site index. I kept having to go back to my email to find the address. Mike West, the database guru, had a converter, onscreen keyboards, and a dictionary at http://www.nwtlanguages.ca/literacy/winmac.aspx, but that site has completely vanished. I started blogging our efforts at http://denefont.blogspot.ca/ back in 2010, and kept adding links and tutorials, but eventually some of the essentials were so far down the page no one but me could find them. So now I’ve built this “mall” so you can find all the tools under one roof, conveniently located right off the freeway. denefont dot comNo WWW to type. No slash/subdirectory to remember. I hope the menus are as clear to you as they seem to me. Give me feedback below if you have suggestions for easier navigating.
Deb Simmons welcomed me into the working group, and saved me from re-inventing the wheel when I started chasing Unicode solutions back at the end of 2009. I can’t say enough about Chris Harvey who created the keyboards and made them available for free (so important for widespread use) and explained Unicode standards and OpenType mysteries to us, but I’ve already mentioned him along with Mike West and Rajiv Rawat who helped me realize what was possible. Linguist Betty Harnum badgered the politicians and got $ for our workshops in 2010 where we hammered out the practical details with luminaries from the aboriginal community like Mary Siemens, Mary Louise Bouvier, Jim Hope, Sabet Biscaye and others I’ve missed listing here. (That’s why there’s a comments field on this “about” page – so you can remind me if you bother reading this at all.)
I can’t end without mentioning Aurora College. While this website is entirely my own responsibility, and the College can in no way be held liable for any deficiencies, they have allowed me to use parts of my working day to develop it. I am the Community Adult Educator at the Whati Community Learning Centre. I work for the best people in the north. From the Minister of Education and College President on down to my immediate supervisor and students, I have received nothing but support and encouragement for my work around the Dene Languages. Mahsı̀