Education and the ability to inspire others is a big part of our mission. We look to different cultures, races within and outside of Canada for ways to inspire a greater well-being, increased happiness, and a deep consideration for others. Canada has been facing one of their greatest cultural atrocities during the pandemic that has brought to light a very difficult history that we must face, acknowledge, and correct. Thankfully there are indigenous creators on TikTok that are using their creativity, life stories and spoken word history to bring truth to Canadian history.
For many people in North America, we are settlers on stolen land. This concept can cause discomfort and be difficult to sit with. The history we were taught to celebrate and adhere doesn’t tell the entire story, and is often at the expense of the people who nurtured this land before colonization. Recently, some more disturbing facts have been unearthed – literally. Thus far, more than 1,000 unmarked graves have been discovered, belonging to children who were ripped away from their families and placed in residential schools. Unfortunately, this is a drop in the bucket when it comes to the historic injustice placed on Indigenous people – there are thousands of unresolved cases for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Indigenous communities have had little to no access to clean water for decades, there is a disproportionate amount of health care access for Indigenous vs. non-Indigenous folks, and the list continues.
The original topic of this article was supposed to be a listing of TikTok accounts from Indigenous creators that will make you happy. In light of the recent social trajectory, it is in the opinion of this writer that this level of happiness needs to be more layered. Yes, Indigenous creators are so full of joy and vibrancy, which is a testament to their human nature in spite of the atrocities placed upon them. However, these days, the happiness should come alongside social justice and advocacy in a effort to be allies. Love, light, and happiness are valuable concepts. However in this case, they can be empty without examining the shadow and dark.
Here are 5 TikTok accounts from Indigenous creators that will educate, inspire, as well as make you happy.
James does a wonderful job of combining education and entertainment where Indigenous issues are concerned. Dance is a large part of his identity because for decades, it was illegal for Indigenous people to perform their traditional dances. He’s got a flair for showmanship through dancing in traditional regalia, and he remains unapologetic in his stance with regard to the injustices his people have to continually undergo. His personal journey of reclaiming the Indigenous culture he hated in his youth is such a compelling watch. @notoriouscree (James Jones)
Isabelle will be the first person to remind you that she is living a good life. She is happy, thriving, and is feeling confident and empowered as she reclaims and unpacks her Indigenous identity. Having said that, she doesn’t shy away from talking about difficult topics such as the generational trauma that Indigenous communities have suffered. An advocate of mental health, her discussions of this topic is bellied by her natural charm and charisma. It’s so easy to smile when watching her. @isapadeau (Isabelle Chapadeau)
Dedrek Mose is a queer Samoan artist and activist who shares clips of Polynesian dancing through TikTok. Their videos challenge our limited and traditional ideas on gender, body types, and other binary views that colonization has placed upon Indigenous communities. Most videos offer words of inspiration and a celebration of their Samoan heritage, with a touch of biting humour. @dedrekmose (Dedrek Mose)
@ohkairyn (Kairyn Bureau)
Kairyn is a 2-Spirit (queer) TikTok creator, who by their own admission is a bit “all over the place” with the kind of content they share. There’s a little bit of knowledge on what it means to be a 2-Spirit person, some posts about fashion and serving looks, humorous posts about their dating life, and teaching us about traditional land acknowledgements. A seemingly unending cast of family members and cousins are typically featured, making this TikTok account an incredibly fun family affair. @ohkairyn (Kairyn Bureau)
Shina is an Inuk TikTok creator who showcases a traditional art form called throat singing – which was once demonized by Christian missionaries. These days, she takes part in this happily, and often with her mother (and these videos are adorable and so full of love). She also highlights Inuit culture through regalia, traditional food, and an open discussion of her people’s practices. @shinanova (Shina Nova)
As these Indigenous social issues arise, it is important to have these potentially difficult conversations. TikTok offers a candid and unfiltered source of knowledge directly from members of various Indigenous communities. How are you contributing to your own unlearning and unpacking? Are there any other Indigenous TikTok creators that you would add to this list? Let us know in the comments below. If you want to learn more about Indigenous history, the University of Alberta is offering as free online course.
Part of our ability to be happy every day is showing compassion, understanding, empathy by giving. We thank these indigenous creators, and so many others, for giving their stories, opening their culture, and being public with the difficult conversations that we all need to have and listen to. Thank you! Send any of these indigenous creators a note of gratitude on their social media accounts!