The Observers

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

TikTok creators from Canada's Inuit communities share videos of their daily life and culture.
TikTok creators from Canada's Inuit communities share videos of their daily life and culture. © Observers

From traditional throat singing to ice fishing, members of Inuit communities are sharing videos of their daily lives and cultural practices on TikTok. The FRANCE 24 Observers spoke to two Inuit creators who are hoping to inform and educate using the social media platform.

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Living in one of Canada's northernmost communities

Lenny Aqigiaq Panigayak is a primary school teacher in Taloyoak, located in Canada's Nunavut Territory. The northernmost community in mainland Canada, remote Taloyoak depends on air shipments for its food supply. 

Panigayak shares videos of his daily life in this icy landscape and answers questions from his followers, such as "Do you have fresh produce?" and "Does the sun come out?" 

In some videos, Panigayak shares information about the exorbitant food prices resulting from the need to fly supplies in. In one of Taloyoak's only stores, a bag of potato chips costs 10 CAD (around 7 euros), while a case of Coca-Cola goes for 50 CAD (34 euros). 

Because of this, the community depends on hunting and fishing for much of their sustenance. Panigayak shares videos where he fishes through the ice, or eats caribou and polar bear meat. 

"The food we find on our land is a lot healthier than what we get from the store," Panigayak explained. "The animal gives life to us, and they shouldn't be suffering in any way."

Sharing throat singing traditions

Shina Novalinga is a young TikToker who shares Inuit traditions with her 2.4 million followers. A video of Novalinga throat singing with her mother has garnered more than 15 million views. 

Throat singing was once at risk of extinction, after colonists and missionaries in Canada banned the practice for decades. But people like Novalinga are working hard to preserve the practice. 

In addition to posting videos of throat singing, Novalinga shares videos explaining indigenous history in Canada, atrocities carried out by colonists, and the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. 

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

"I think it's really important to use those platforms to finally speak up and encourage youth to love themselves the way they are," Novalinga said. "Posting on social media is good to educate and to help our youth feel included as well – something we didn't have before."