TikTok aims to uplift Indigenous creators

The platform worked with Indigenous creative consultancy Creative Fire on a campaign for National Indigenous History Month.

TikTok Living Stories

The beginning of National Indigenous History Month (NIHM) in June was marked by the tragic discovery of the remains of 215 children at the former site of the Kamloops Indian Residential School on Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc territory – a solemn reminder that there is still much work to be done on truth and reconciliation.

It’s the reason TikTok Canada teamed up with Creative Fire, an Indigenous-owned creative consulting agency with offices in Saskatoon, Sask. and Burlington, Ont., to create “#LivingStories,” a cross-country OOH and digital campaign that began on June 8 to provide a platform for Indigenous TikTok creators to share their stories.

“#LivingStories” featured stories, histories, experiences and tales by Indigenous creators that have been passed down by elders and community figureheads. Banners across the app highlighted the slate of storytelling, and Live programming helped spotlight Indigenous creators and artists such as James Jones and Gia Pastion, while also highlighting Indigenous-owned small businesses. Indigenous creators were also featured on billboards across Canada.

Mitch White, senior communications lead with Creative Fire, believes TikTok’s approach to video makes it a more natural fit for Indigenous storytelling than other social media platforms that are more photo- or text-based. “TikTok is geared towards videos, and storytelling has always been verbal – that’s how we have captured and shared our histories and realities,” he says.

Given the recent tragic discoveries, it’s more important than ever for Indigenous communities to have an outlet to share their stories, experiences and grief, he says. “Through the month of June and beyond we are trying to put a spotlight on Indigenous peoples and their stories in a way that is culturally appropriate and that resonates with the creators and with the communities.”

Nadia Niccoli, director of brand and business marketing at TikTok Canada, explains that even before the tragic discovery of unmarked graves, the platform wanted to create a tentpole campaign that kicked off National Indigenous History Month to celebrate, educate and amplify the incredibly talented Indigenous creator community on TikTok.

TikTok StickerTo that end, the platform’s in-house design and content team introduced two creative features for NIHM, the first being a new effect called “Aurora Burst,” which is a combination of the popular “Neon Burst” effect and a stop motion trend featuring the Northern Lights. The second is the first-ever informational sticker designed by an Indigenous artist for TikTok. It partnered with Patrick Hunter, a two-spirited Ojibiway artist originally from Red Lake, Ont., on designing the sticker (pictured, right).

“We are always looking for ways to continue to showcase the diversity of our users and content on the platform, especially as we continue to grow our presence in the market. The goal of all of our brand and community marketing efforts is to highlight the value of the platform at every media touchpoint,” Niccoli says.

TikTok Canada’s commitment to celebrating Indigenous communities and stories will extend past NIHM, with plans to launch year-round, long-term programs focused on supporting Indigenous creators.

As part of its ongoing commitment, the platform will hold monthly virtual community programming with topics covering TikTok best practices, audience growth strategies, creator wellbeing, and how to work with brands.

Additional initiatives were announced at the #IndigenousTikTok Creator Circle on June 28, a virtual event exclusively for its growing community of Indigenous creators, which featured  musical performances, appearances by TikTok creators, celebrity guests appearances and virtual mingling with the goal of uplifting and celebrating Indigenous communities.

TikTok will be partnering with and contributing $100,000 to non-profit organizations across Canada that support Indigenous communities focusing on culture, education, youth leadership and youth mental health. This includes support for Indspire’s Rivers to Success mentorship program, We Matter’s mental wellness resources for Indigenous youth and the National Association of Friendship Centre’s Aboriginal Youth Council.