Members of Canada’s indigenous communities share their culture on TikTok

First Amendment:

From traditional throat singing to ice fishing, Inuit members share videos of their daily lives and cultural practices on TikTok. In this edition of Los Observadores, we speak with two content creators from this diverse people of North America who seek to inform and educate through this popular social media platform.

Lenny Aqigiaq Panigayak is an elementary school in Taloyoak, located in the Canadian territory of Nunavut. The remote community of Talluywack, in Canada’s far north, depends on air shipments for its food supply. Panigayak shares videos of his daily life in this frozen spectacle and answers questions from his followers like “Do you have fresh produce?” or “Does the sun rise?”

In some videos, Panigayak gives information about the exorbitant prices of food items due to the need to transport supplies. At one of the only stores in Taloyoak, a bag of potato chips costs C$10 (about $8), while a can of Coke costs C$50 ($35). For this reason, society depends on hunting and fishing for most of its livelihood.

In his videos, Panjayak shows how he hunts in the ice or eats the meat of caribou – reindeer – and polar bear. “The food we find on Earth is healthier than what we get from the store,” Panjayak explains. “An animal gives us life and should not suffer in any way,” he adds.

Share the traditional throat song

Shaina Novalinga from TikToker shares Inuit traditions with her 2.4 million followers. A video of Novalinga singing with her throat accompanied by her mother has garnered more than 15 million views.

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Throat chant was in danger of extinction, after settlers and missionaries in Canada banned the practice for decades. But people like Novalinga work hard to maintain the traditions. In addition to posting videos of throat chants, Novalinga shares others explaining the history of Aboriginal people in Canada, atrocities committed by settlers, and talking about missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls.

The hashtag #indigenous has over 2.6 billion views on TikTok. Many other creators like Panigayak and Novalinga have turned to the video sharing platform to post political, historical and cultural content that helps inform people about indigenous communities.

“I think it’s really important to use these platforms to finally speak up and encourage young people to love themselves as they are,” Novalinga said. “Posting on social networks is good for educating our young people and helping them feel included as well, which is something we didn’t have before,” he said.

Sacha Woodward

"Wannabe writer. Lifelong problem solver. Gamer. Incurable web guru. Professional music lover."

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