A banner features some of the selected creators for a 2021 TikTok program featuring Indigenous creators. Image: National Screen Institute
A program designed to help Indigenous TikTok creators grow their online following is returning, with applications open until September 15.
The National Screen Institute’s free six-week online course will accept 40 people, up from a cap of 30 last year. The course explains how to create engaging content and make it more visible.
Tuktoyaktuk’s Christina King, whose accounts bear her Inuit name Taalrumiq, was the only artists from the NWT to take part last year. She said her following tripled after she joined the program.
“It was an intense training program. We had three to four sessions per week over a six-week period, plus follow-up afterward. So, I look at it as professional development because we covered so many different aspects,” she said.
“We had different industry experts, different social media experts sharing their knowledge and expertise to really help us grow as content creators.
“It was just fantastic.”
Taalrumiq said her favourite part of the experience was “hearing from some of the biggest Native TikTok-ers on the app.”
“Getting to meet Native celebrities was pretty awesome,” she said.
After the program ended, Taalrumiq was featured on TikTok Canada’s creator spotlight for National Indigenous History Month in June.
She believes sharing her culture, traditions, true history and stories online is increasing awareness of those aspects of indigeneity.
“Historically, Indigenous people’s voices have been silenced. We were everything from being dehumanized, our family systems were destroyed, we were put into residential schools,” said Taalrumiq, describing injustices faced since the colonization of Indigenous peoples.
“This is an opportunity for us to share our history, to share our stories, to share traditional knowledge, and from our point of view.
“For me to share some of our stories and different parts of our culture when I’m actually from here and I’m Inuvialuit – It’s just a different point of view. I feel that we have an authentic voice and it’s finally being valued,” she said, referring to growing up with documentaries and books that shared outside perspectives of her community.
Nobody from the program was available to comment.
In a statement, TikTok said it was excited to partner with NSI and demonstrate a “continued commitment to supporting Indigenous storytellers and their careers by fostering a diverse, inclusive and authentic community, as well as providing the tools needed to succeed.”
The program offers applicants outside urban areas a stipend to help cover internet costs for the duration of the training.
“I want to encourage all Inuvialuit and Gwich’in content creators – all Indigenous content creators – to apply,” said Taalrumiq.
“Your voice is important. You have stories, talents, and skills to share. So don’t be shy, just put yourself out there. It’s a very freeing feeling, and it’s fun, and you’ll get to meet a whole bunch of other people and be part of a great community.
“It’s always a bonus when you can make your community laugh with your content.”