Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Online content creators are being provided with the opportunity to receive training by the National Screen Institute (NSI) through a partnership with the social media platform TikTok.
The TikTok Accelerator for Indigenous Creators program is back for a second year for Indigenous individuals ages 18 and up.
“Our goal is to give them tools that they need and that they can take afterwards to grow as a content creator and eventually, hopefully, turn that into a career,” said NSI program manager Sarah Simpson-Yellowquill.
“For this particular platform, and for growing it as a career, we aimed it more for adult age. However, we most definitely do see that interest from younger folks too so, who knows? Something might spark from that and develop later on.”
This year, there will be 40 applicants accepted into the free online program, which is an increase of 10 spots available from last year. Applications must be submitted by Sept. 15 at 5 p.m. ET on the NSI website at https://nsi-canada.ca/programs/tiktok-accelerator-for-indigenous-creators/
NSI is a not-for-profit organization out of Winnipeg. The facility offers specialized training, which includes story creation, documentaries, script development and crew training.
The classes will run for a total of six weeks. Each week, 90-minute classes will be held two to three times, led by Indigenous experts from the industry.
“We already have a wishlist of Indigenous content creators from TikTok that we think would be great special guests,” said Simpson-Yellowquill.
Throughout the six weeks, participants will learn how to navigate TikTok, develop a social presence and learn how to engage an audience. There will also be technical training, including lessons on lighting, editing and special effects.
Another area participants will receive training in is how to build up a career, brand themselves, learn to collaborate with other creators, and how to be social responsibility while online.
“(NSI is) making sure that folks are staying safe and know how to navigate while online,” Simpson-Yellowquill said.
Applicants must already have a presence online, including having posted a minimum of four videos within the last 30 days prior to submitting the application.
“We want to be able to reach out to different folks from different levels in their content creating career,” said Simpson-Yellowquill, adding that applicants can be musicians, comedians, educators or from any field.
“There is a vast genre of content we look for. It doesn’t have to be specific to anything. (Last year’s participants), they were at a level where they knew they wanted to, potentially, go content creator full time, whether it is just TikTok or other media platforms.”
Kesha Tipewan participated in the program last year and credits much of her career growth this year to the training she received.
“When I first started the program, I wanted to grow my presence on TikTok and become a content creator, so being in that program has helped me further my opportunities... That is my goal, to be a full-time digital creator,” said Tipewan, who is originally from Witchekan Lake First Nation, but who currently lives in Saskatoon.
The 26-year-old is a survivor of child sexual abuse and uses social media platforms as a way to connect with others who have been through similar situations.
She has a bachelor’s degree in education and three years of Indigenous social work education.
“I share my story online about the trauma I went through,” she said. “I talk about that, and I also talk about the healing that I’m currently doing. I quit alcohol. I gave up a bad habit and started using healthy habits. I kinda just started changing my life around and started changing on social media.”
Currently, Tipewan is on various social platforms, which she said is important for creators to build up their brand and to connect to different communities.
Building connections is a huge part of the TikTok Accelerator for Indigenous Creators program added Tipewan.
“By being in this program it helped (me) make connections through brands,” she said. “So that’s how I will be getting paid, is through brand sponsorships through monetization tools on TikTok or other platforms. Then getting all this exposure by being in this program has connected me to other people.”
There are strong bonds created between program participants.
“What I anticipate for this year that folks get out of the program is most definitely having more tools and resources and access to those things that they might not have known about or had access to before,” said Simpson-Yellowquill. “Then networking and building their communities is such a huge aspect. Even though the program is delivered online, the 30 or 40 students usually connect together so well and they kinda become their own hub and their own family and eventually start creating content together. So, they just have those networks of folks that they know who can be their supporters and can help them grow.”
Local Journalism Initiative Reporters are supported by a financial contribution made by the Government of Canada.