As part of its campaign to increase Indigenous voices and stories, TikTok is promoting nine creators on its platform in June as part of its Indigenous Visionary Voices project.
Aïcha Bastien-N’Diaye is an Afro-Indigenous multidisciplinary artist of Wendat and Guinean descent and is one of two creators from Quebec. Scott Wabano is the other, a 2Spirit, Eeyo Cree from Mushkegowuk, who owns the streetwear brand Wabano.
Bastien-N’Diaye is co-founder of Le Feu Studio and uses her @aichella TikTok handle for both creativity and inspiration.
“I always try to tap into my creativity and create content that my younger self would have needed but also that my grandmother would enjoy,” she said.
Wabano started his @scottwabano account during the pandemic. It has grown and now has over 50,000 followers.
“I found that TikTok, for me, was a way for me to kind of build that community and also showcase the beauty and the humorous lives and the unique lives a lot of indigenous youth are living these days,” he said.
TikTok told CTV News in a statement that it wanted to highlight stories from the Indigenous communities throughout June “by amplifying the voices who continue to tear down barriers and misconceptions and use their platform to share the beauty, history, and heritage of the First Nations, Inuit and Metis Peoples.”
The other seven creators chosen for the list are Willow Allen from Inuvialuit, James Jones from the Cree Tallcree First Nation, Anishinaabe Jenn Harper from Northwest Angle #33 First Nation, Nakota Sioux Kairyn Potts, Ojibwe Melissa Blair, Mallory Yawnghwe from the Saddle Lake Cree Nation #125, and Secwepemc Ashley Michel from the Tk’emlups Indian Band.
Nine Indigenous creators were chosen by TikTok for its Indigenous Visionary Voices list for June, 2023. SOUCRE: TikTok
Wabano said he wants to change the way Indigenous people are perceived, particularly in mainstream media and the entertainment industry.
“I really wanted my platform to kind of change that,” he said. “To kind of be a place where Indigenous youth could feel represented and feel heard because we have different upbringings and different lifestyles and different humour, and oftentimes, it’s not seen in mainstream society or in the mainstream movies and media.”
The opportunity to use social media for expression, however, oftentimes comes with the pressure to create content catered to specific dates, such as National Indigenous Peoples Day (June 21).
“So I try to create authentic and real content whenever I feel like it and not necessarily when the algorithm needs it,” said Bastien-N’Diaye. “It’s a great time to be unapologetic and to suggest content that reminds people that we’re Indigenous all year long, not only during June.”