NWT TikTok creators given extra help as their followings grow
The NWT’s Willow Allen and Inuk Trennert are among those featured in TikTok’s latest Accelerator for Indigenous Creators, a partnership with the National Screen Institute.
The program uses online classes to teach Indigenous content creators how to grow an online community, share stories, and create a safe and respectful space.
Allen, from Inuvik, says she has been making content on TikTok more seriously for the past four months, a platform she found after four years of modelling. She has half a million followers at the time of writing, making hers one of the most-followed accounts on any platform for a Northwest Territories creator.
When she appeared on the cover of Elle magazine, Allen says she realized the importance of sharing her story as an Inuvialuit public figure.
“I get to completely incorporate my culture and share the story of me and my identity and culture,” Allen told Cabin Radio.
“Getting to spread more representation in a meaningful way is really important.”
Allen says the accelerator program has helped her connect with other Indigenous creators and learn from their experiences.
“I don’t think I would have had the opportunity to connect with other creators without this program, and it’s been really affirming to meet with them,” she said.
“It’s been awesome to learn from other people that have the same experiences as I do, and learn how they deal with racism and other things on the app, because our content Is so different from a lot of other people’s.”
Many of Allen’s videos share stories about growing up in Inuvik, hunting, travelling as an Indigenous person, and Indigenous traditions. Allen says that while most of the feedback she receives on the app is positive, there is still work to be done when it comes to educating others on Indigenous issues.
“A lot of people will comment things like: ‘I don’t understand Indigenous culture,’ and there’s so much more to do there,” said Allen.
“It’s so deep. There’s so much positivity to be shared about Indigenous culture and Indigenous people, and it’s always the negative stuff that makes the headlines.
“It’s so important to also spread all the positives and beauty of our culture, and I think there are more creators starting to do that and it’s amazing to see. It’s amazing to have the support of this program to help us figure it out.”
‘Spread healthy positivity’
Yellowknife’s Inuk Trennert uses her platform to share her artwork and discuss issues such as mental health, residential schools, and Indigenous women affected by domestic violence.
Trennert, with an audience of 27,000 followers, says she started creating content during the pandemic as a way to gain relief from what was happening in the world during the time.
Once she started sharing more videos about her culture and her life, she realized how big an impact she could have.
“For me, as an older TikToker, I’m learning how to utilize it to my advantage and how to bring the most impact to my creations,” Trennert said of her participation in the program.
“Everything from learning what time your content is uploaded, to what your followers want to see from you or hear from you, and then things like editing and using different effects.”
Trennert says she applied for the program hoping it would help her grow as a creator while also helping her Indigenous and BIPOC followers see the space they are able to hold online.
“There’s not enough of us on there. I didn’t want to keep waiting for other Indigenous people to be there – it’s time for me to take space where we haven’t before, and the first step in that was applying to this program,” she said.
An advocate for mental health, Trennert says her biggest learning obstacle has been how to protect herself when receiving unkind comments. The TikTok program has helped her address these issues, she says, and learn from other creators who have faced the same challenges.
“I’ve learned that I just need to delete people that aren’t good for my mental health, and so that’s what I do,” she said.
“Instead of going back and forth, I remind people that if they’re judgmental on it, I’m not going to keep them on my platform, and I don’t have to follow them, something a lot of content creators often feel obligated to do.
“I think that’s what is most important here. Your mental health is crucial, take care of it. Don’t look at the numbers or the negative comments, take care of your mental wellbeing, and use it as a platform to spread healthy positivity.”