Canadian Indigenous TikTok Stars

Canadian Indigenous TikTok Stars

By Darian Kovacs

The popularity of social media continues to grow rapidly and shows no signs of slowing down. What once offered an opportunity for users to share pictures with friends and family, has now become one of the largest forms of advertising, collecting more than two billion dollars in Canadian ad spend every year.  Social media is now the primary platform for brands to sell and promote their products, with many of them relying on Influencers to reach their intended audience. Influencers are social media personalities that harness the ability to speak to a large social following on behalf of the products and services they work with. These social media influencers can request a large price tag in exchange for their services, with many of them earning upwards of 4 figures for a single post. With the growth of influencers (or content creators as they’re often called), there is also an increase of diversity amongst creators, including a community of Indigenous creators. These Indigenous social media icons redefine what it means to be a social media star, leveraging the popular platform, TikTok, to share their culture and stories.

TikTok is a social media platform that uses short-form video footage. The app is used by a typically younger audience and allows individuals to express themselves through singing, dancing, comedy, and even cultural traditions. Indigenous TikTok stars such as Fawn Wood, Michelle Chubb, Shina Novalinga, Mikey Harris, and James Jones have become icons, representing Indigenous music, dance, community, and art. The creative work of these individuals is reaching an audience of younger Canadians, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, promoting their culture, educating settlers, strengthening Indigenous community bonds, and uplifting other young creators in the process. TikTok offers what many other platforms do not, which is the freedom to create in a way that is authentic and representative of the individual. Unlike Instagram and Twitter, TikTok’s reliance on video enables more of a story to be shared and a community relationship to build with the individuals. We’ve highlighted five of Canada’s most influential Indigenous TikTok creators and what you can expect from each of them:

Michelle Chubb:

Michelle Chubb is from Winnipeg, Manitoba and is part of the Bunibonibee Cree Nation. Michelle’s content is based on educating viewers about Indigenous rights, jingle dress dancing, and authentic powwow attire. She also recently became a new mom. Michelle shares beading tutorials, traditional dancing, and social injustice content about the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and residential schools. Her viewers learn about the systemic and direct racism that Indigenous people face every day. Michelle uses her platform to connect, educate, and empower. Her content has earned her the 2021 Women of Influence award and a feature in Teen Vogue. You can find her on TikTok at @INDIGENOUS_BADDIE

James Jones:

An Indigenous dancer from the Treaty 6 territory known as Edmonton, Alberta, James has earned a large TikTok community following. His content educates viewers about the history of traditional dance and he has been ranked one of the top 5 hoop dancers in the world. His art form has allowed him to travel across Europe, China, Australia, and North America, displaying his skills. As a previous finalist on So You Think You Can Dance Canada, James has performed in front of all types of audiences, including hoop dancing on world tours with the Juno award-winning group, A Tribe Called Red. You can watch his authentic dance videos by following him on TikTok at @NOTORIOUSCREE.

Fawn Wood:

Fawn Wood comes from a multi-generational traditional singing family, a Cree and Salish background. Fawn showcases her work as a hand drummer, including her title as the first woman to ever win the Hand Drum contest at the Gathering of Nation’s Pow-Wow. Her channel offers a mix of content, including comedy, singing, and relatable Indigenous-focused videos. She includes PlainsCree Phrases and Cree Morning Terms in her content as a way of demonstrating her native language, with the intent to help other young Indigenous people recognize Indigenous culture in popular media. She recently released an album with Buffalo Jump Records and is planning a merchandise line and music video. Follow along on TikTok with @FAWN.WOOD.

Mikey Harris:

From Winnipeg, Manitoba, Mikey Harris brings authentic dance and choreography to the TikTok stage. His dance style is best known for blending traditional Métis with jigging hip-hop dance styles. His dance career has brought him to a variety of stages before TikTok, including the 2010 Winter Olympics, the Canadian Parliament Hill New Years Bash, and the Indigenous Music Awards. While his channel is primarily dance-focused, it also incorporates educational information and passionate discussions about being Indigenous. Mikey aims to educate and raise awareness for young performers, creating space for all cultures in the social media world. Follow Mikey and his dancing on TikTok: @MIKEYHARRISS.

Shina Novalinga:

Shina gained popularity after posting videos of her and her mother practicing Inuk throat singing. Living in Montreal Quebec, her channel offers a beautiful tribute to the Inuit culture and traditions. Shina’s throat singing videos typically feature her mother and offer a glimpse of the long-lost art form. The art of Throat singing was previously banned by Christian Missionaries, as it was believed to promote demonic practices. It has since seen a resurgence but is still a rare skill to perform and practice. Shina’s content demonstrates the traditional arts, attire, and activities of the Inuit people. Her videos are educational, cultural, and promote Indigenous issues in beautiful, artistic ways. Follow her here: @SHINANOVA

Written by Darian Kovacs

Darian Kovacs: Darian Kovacs is the Indigenous founder of Vancouver-based SEO company Jelly Marketing and the digital marketing course, Jelly Academy. He brings 15 years of marketing experience and a passion for education, and creativity.  He is the host of the podcast Marketing News Canada. Darian specializes in mixing PR with digital marketing and has worked with numerous internationally renowned brands on developing and executing their digital marketing and PR strategies.

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