From traditional throat singing to ice fishing, Inuit members share videos of their daily life and cultural practices on TikTok. In this issue of Los Observadores, we speak with two content creators from this diverse North American people who seek to inform and educate through this renowned social media platform.
Lenny Aqigiaq Panigayak is an elementary school teacher in Taloyoak, located in the Canadian territory of Nunavut. The northernmost community in mainland Canada, remote Taloyoak, relies on air shipments for its food supply. Panigayak shares videos of his daily life in this frozen landscape and answers questions from his followers such as “do you have fresh produce?” or “does the sun rise?”
In some videos, Panigayak gives information about the exorbitant prices of food as a result of the need to transport supplies. At one of Taloyoak’s only stores, a bag of potato chips costs CAD 10 (about $ 8), while a case of Coke costs CAD 50 ($ 35). Because of this, the community depends on hunting and fishing for much of its livelihood.
In his videos, Panigayak shows how he fishes through the ice or eats the meat of caribou – reindeer – and polar bear. “The food we find on our land is much healthier than what we get from the store,” explains Panigayak. “The animal gives us life and they should not be suffering in any way,” he adds.
Sharing the traditional throat song
Shina Novalinga is a young TikToker who shares Inuit traditions with her 2.4 million followers. A video of Novalinga singing with her throat accompanied by her mother has garnered more than 15 million views.
Throat chanting was once at risk of extinction, after settlers and missionaries in Canada banned the practice for decades. But people like Novalinga are working hard to preserve the tradition. In addition to posting videos of throat chants, Novalinga shares others that explain Indigenous history in Canada, atrocities committed by settlers, and talk about missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
The #indigenous hashtag has more than 2.6 billion views on TikTok. Many other creators such as Panigayak and Novalinga have turned to the video-sharing platform to post 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 young people to love themselves as they are,” Novalinga said. “Publishing on social networks is good to educate and help our young people to feel included as well, something that we did not have before,” he said.