When Crystal Harrison Collin and Sean Morriseau began posting to TikTok, neither of them ever thought the app would become such a big part of their lives.
The content creators from northwestern Ontario are a part of a growing community on the social media platform, #nativetiktok or #indigenoustiktok, and their work has earned them spots in a national accelerator program.
“Each session since November 8th has instilled confidence, reassurance, knowledge and strength, especially being among so many talented and gifted brothers and sisters from across Turtle Island,” said Harrison Collin, who lives in Sioux Lookout, Ont.
Harrison Collin, from Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation and Morriseau, who is from Fort William First Nation are two of 30 participants in the first ever TikTok accelerator program for Indigenous creators.
The platform has become a popular way for Indigenous people to share their culture in short, creative videos, and it’s not uncommon for people from small communities to have videos go viral, especially in the North.
What starts out as a fun hobby, flourishes into something more
For Harrison Collin, using TikTok started as a hobby during the pandemic. She was introduced to the app by her teenage daughter who first showed her the trend of Indigenous creators making videos where they transition into regalia in creative ways.
“I did that Indigenous trend and I realized that our stories are important and I wanted to take up space. So I went on with creating content for TikTok, and it started off as something fun and it developed into something more,” said Harrison Collin.
Now the mom of five has over 20,000 followers on the platform, where she shares everything from stories to videos of her and her granddaughter dancing in traditional jingle dresses.
“This program really opened up my eyes and. It’s left me amazed and motivated to keep sharing my story. Our voices, our presence, our medicine is important and we deserve the space,” she said.
Morriseau has been using TikTok since 2018, but just started using the app for fun. Now he uses the app as a space to post scripted content and to collaborate with other creators.
“I feel like I have these stories inside of me that people need to hear and people need to see,” he said.
“I hear the feedback from some people telling that I’ve changed their lives in a good way. I made a big impact in their lives, and that kind of brings the best feeling to me.”
Morriseau said he creates content for people who might be looking to escape reality for even just a moment, and largely focuses his videos on comedy but also dabbles in more serious content as well.
For him the being a part of the accelerator program has provided him with the skills to harness everything the app has to offer and has supplied him with tech equipment, and has helped him to make contacts in the content creation community.
“It’s definitely helped me to work with other creators and people that are all over … that help me, you know, break out of different shells and overcome different obstacles that are in my life. I’m very grateful for the app,” he said.
Both Morriseau and Harrison Collin will be graduating from the TikTok accelerator program on Dec. 17.