March 7, 2022

First class of students in program for Indigenous TikTokers graduates

The first group of students has recently graduated from a special program aiming to boost Indigenous talent on TikTok, helping social media users on the path to becoming social media stars.

In Deanne Hupfield’s most popular TikTok video, which has one million views, she’s teaching viewers footwork that can accompany a jingle dress dance.

“It went viral,” she told CTV News. “It went viral the first day, and it gave me a lot of anxiety.”

That footwork was part of her homework as one of the people chosen to be a part of TikTok Canada’s accelerator program for Indigenous creators.

“I was to post a video under 30 seconds doing something I’ve never done on Tiktok before,” she said.

Hupfield teaches powwow dancing, and her videos on TikTok feature her going through the steps or performing in regalia.

She now has 70,500 followers on TikTok, but when she applied to the TikTok Accelerator for Indigenous Creators, which started in November and ran through December, she had only just begun her social media journey.

“At that time, I only had four videos up on Tiktok, because I only put enough videos to apply to the program,” Hupfield said.

The accelerator, which is presented by the National Screen Institute, is about amplifying Indigenous content creators.

Sherry McKay mentored Hupfield in the program, partly chosen for her success as an Indigenous creator already thriving on the platform.

McKay has more than 500,000 followers and more than 17 million likes.

Some of her teachings as a mentor were about how creators should believe in themselves.

“Talking about things like imposter syndrome and claiming our space in the digital area as Indigenous people,” she told CTV News.

“Just saying: ‘Claim those gifts. Get out there and do what you’re already doing but be confident in it.’”

McKay creates comedy skits and shares stories on her TikTok, among other types of content.

Having a lot of followers isn’t always a for sure thing, McKay said, adding that she’s wondered, “How long is it going to last, am I just a trend?”

The program, which teaches storytelling techniques that may be successful on the platform, as well as technical skills and personal branding, also teaches the business side of Tiktok.

“There are various levels of popularity on the platform,” Lindsay Lynch, director of creator partnerships and community at TikTok Canada, told CTV News. “People will have millions of followers and be able to make millions of dollars.”

Sometimes even one video can catapult a person, as in the case of Nathan Apodaca, the Indigenous man who captured a much sought after feeling of peace in a 2020 TikTok of him skateboarding to Fleetwood Mac while drinking cranberry juice.

After he became a meme, he garnered millions of followers.

Success on social media is about staying true to yourself, according to Hupfield and McKay.

Indigenous Tiktok has more than a billion views, and with the success of the Indigenous accelerator program, Tiktok is gearing up to build on it for this year. 

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