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How Indigenous social media influencers inspired podcast host on journey of self-discovery – CBC.ca

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Inuk throat singer Shina Novalinga has eight million views and counting of a TikTok video showing her casually snacking on raw caribou.

Cree hoop dancer James Jones has racked up over four million for a clip of himself performing to traditional tunes in his living room. 

And who can forget the TikTok video of Nathan Apodaca skateboarding to Fleetwood Mac tunes that was now been watched almost 80 million times?

Indigenous influencers are here. They have made a space for themselves on social media and are using it to showcase their talents and cultures, bridge societal divides, and spotlight Indigenous art, humour and ways of life.

Jeremy Ratt, host of the CBC podcast Pieces, says his journey toward understanding his Indigenous identity, which is charted in the podcast, was made easier by the contributions Indigenous influencers are making online.

“It was a really essential step because it established that I wasn’t alone in my problems, I wasn’t alone in not feeling Indigenous enough due to those external voices,” said 19-year-old Ratt, speaking on CBC’s The Early Edition about his podcast.

‘Amplify our voices’

Sherry McKay, an Oji-Cree TikTok influencer in Winnipeg, told Ratt that while she uses her platform to educate and make people laugh, it also helps her assert herself as an Indigenous person.

“It’s kind of like walking in two worlds,” she said. “Trying to maintain your identity as an Indigenous person and then also acknowledging that you are white passing or light skin.”

McKay says Indigenous people don’t want their stories to be told by non-Indigenous people anymore.

Instead, “we want them to amplify our voices,” she told Ratt.

Sherry McKay, who is from Sagkeeng First Nation and lives in Winnipeg, has amassed almost 400,000 followers on TikTok. (Submitted by Sherry McKay)

Those voices have long been muted and misrepresented by mainstream media, says Candis Callison, an associate journalism professor at the University of British Columbia.

She says social media has given Indigenous people their narrative back. 

“The ways in which they use these platforms to hold mainstream media accountable is really a game-changer,” said Callison, who is Tahltan.

Definition of ‘influencer’

Shayla Oulette Stonechild, who is Plains Cree and an Aboriginal Peoples Television Network host, has an Instagram account with over 40,000 followers. She said she never thought of herself as an influencer until someone threw the term her way.

“Because really, what an influencer is is showing people another way of life and influencing people to maybe make changes or to bring awareness to issues that people may not know about,” she said.

Stonechild says her content ideas often come to her through ceremony, meditation and yoga practice.

“Then I know it’s coming through spirit and not intellect,” she said.

Ratt told The Early Edition that Stonechild’s content resonated with him because there is a spiritual element to Pieces as well.

“The biggest part of Pieces was really connecting with my family … and being connected more to my culture and my Indigenous side,” he said. “It was such a powerful thing for me to really take in because it’s led to some of the most transformative moments in my journey.”

The impact Indigenous influencers have had on Ratt’s journey to better understand his Woods-Cree roots have inspired him to start his own TikTok account.

“Making art and creating content online has always interested me since I was a kid,” he said. “I’m not sure what I’ll do on TikTok yet, but my conversations with Sherry and company have made me want to take those first steps.”

Pieces is a five-part CBC podcast that explores what it means to be Indigenous. Join 19-year-old Jeremy Ratt on a journey of self discovery as he seeks to understand his roots and all of the distinct “pieces” that form who he is today.

You can subscribe now wherever you get your podcasts. 

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TikTok debuts new voice after Canadian actor sues

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After noticing a new female voice narrating the videos on the popular video-sharing social networking service, users of TikTok were baffled as to why. It actually turns out that the Canadian actress behind the old voice filed a lawsuit against the platform for copyright violation as her voice was apparently being used without her permission.

Bev Standing, a voice actor based in Ontario, is taking China-based ByteDance to court. TikTok’s parent company has since replaced her voice with a new one, with Standing reportedly finding out over email after a tip-off from a journalist. On the matter, Standing said: “They replaced me with another voice. I am so overwhelmed by this whole thing. I’m stumbling for words because I just don’t know what to say.”

TikTok is said to be considering a settlement for Standing outside of the courts, but nobody knows whether or not this is true. According to legal experts, the fact TikTok now has a new voice on the popular social media app suggests they acknowledge Standing’s case and potentially understand that she may have suffered as a result of the company’s actions.

Thanks to the emergence of the powerful smartphone devices of today, alongside taking high-quality images for Instagram, getting lost down YouTube wormholes, and accessing popular slots like Purple Hot, people are turning to relatively new platforms like TikTok. The service has 689 million monthly active users worldwide and is one of the most downloaded apps in Apple’s iOS App Store. This latest news could harm the platforms future, although many of its younger users potentially aren’t aware that this type of scenario is unfolding.

For Bev Standing, the ordeal is a testing one. She wasn’t informed of the voice change, there is no mention of it in TikTok’s newsroom online, and the development is news to her lawyer also.

 

This all comes after her case was filed in a New York State court in early May after the voice actor noticed a computer-generated version of her voice had been seen and listened to around the world since 2020. Speculation is rife as to how TikTok managed to obtain the recordings but Standing believes the company acquired them from a project she took part in for the Chinese government in 2018.

(Image via https://twitter.com/VoiceOverXtra)

The Institute of Acoustics in China reportedly promised her that all of the material she would be recording would be used solely for translation, but they eventually fell into the hands of TikTok and have since been altered and then exposed to a global audience.

According to Pina D’Agostino, an associate professor with Osgoode Hall Law School at York University and an expert in copyright law, the fact that the hugely popular social media platform has now changed Standing’s voice could result in a positive outcome for the distraught voice actor. She said: “It’s a positive step in the way that they are mitigating their damages. And when you’re mitigating, you’re acknowledging that we did something wrong, and you’re trying to make things better.”

When assessing social media etiquette and how both companies and users should act, this type of news can only do more harm than good. Not only does it make the company look bad, but it could have an effect on revenues and, ultimately, TikTok’s reputation.

With a clear desire to move on and put this whole process behind her, Bev Standing is eager for the case to be resolved and get back to the daily work she loves and has been doing for a large part of her life. TikTok has until July 7 to respond to her claim.

 

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Nigeria orders broadcasters not to use Twitter to gather information

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Nigerian television and radio stations should not use Twitter to gather information and have to de-activate their accounts, the broadcast authority said following the move to suspend the U.S. social media giant in Africa’s most populous country.

Nigeria’s government on Friday said it had suspended Twitter’s activities, two days after the platform removed a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari that threatened to punish secessionists. Nigerian telecoms firms have since blocked access to Twitter.

International diplomats responded with a joint statement in support of “free expression and access to information as a pillar of democracy in Nigeria”.

Buhari, who was Nigeria’s military ruler in the 1980s, has previously been accused of cracking down on freedom of expression, though his government has denied such accusations.

Twitter has called its suspension “deeply concerning” and said it would work to restore access for all those in Nigeria who rely on the platform to communicate and connect with the world.

The National Broadcasting Commission, in a statement dated June 6, told broadcasters to “suspend the patronage of Twitter immediately”.

“Broadcasting stations are hereby advised to de-install Twitter handles and desist from using Twitter as a source of information gathering,” it said in the statement, adding that “strict compliance is enjoined”.

The statement comes two days after the attorney general ordered the prosecution of those who break the rules on the ban.

The foreign minister on Monday held a closed door meeting in the capital, Abuja, with diplomats from the United States, Britain, Canada, the European Union and Ireland to discuss the ban.

It followed the statement by their diplomatic missions on Saturday in which they criticised the move.

“These measures inhibit access to information and commerce at precisely the moment when Nigeria needs to foster inclusive dialogue…. as well as share vital information in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic,” they said in their statement.

Nigeria’s information minister on Friday said the ban would be “indefinite” but, in a statement late on Sunday, referred to it as a “temporary suspension”.

The minister did not immediately respond to phone calls and text messages on Monday seeking comment on the altered language.

 

(Reporting by Camillus Eboh and Abraham Achirga in Abuja; Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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Lisa Kudrow discusses impact of ‘Friends The Reunion’

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Comedic actor Lisa Kudrow is set to return to television comedy in the second season of “Feel Good”, hot on the heels of appearing in “Friends: The Reunion”.

The reunion of the classic sitcom “Friends” cast became a hot topic on social media and saw a surge in subscriptions for the show’s platform HBO Max.

Kudrow told Reuters via Zoom she found it “a little bit mind-blowing because you don’t really fully get the impact that the show had on people internationally and the personal stories that you would hear about over the years. It’s really nice. I go to sleep now thinking ‘Ah, I did a good thing’.”

 

In the series “Feel Good”, which is entering its second and final season, Kudrow plays the mother of Mae, a non-binary comedian who is struggling with the demons of her past while trying to keep up a relationship with girlfriend George.

The first series was critically acclaimed and Mae Martin, who based the series on her own experiences, won two Royal Television Society awards for Best Writer – Comedy and also the Breakthrough Award.

“Once I was sent the script … I loved it. I loved every episode, I loved what it was about,” said Kudrow.

However, her attachment to the project meant that the “Friends” star would have to travel to the United Kingdom where most of the series was shot during the pandemic.

“I was anxious about it but then forgot it once I was there on their set with the COVID protocols. I felt perfectly safe,” Kudrow said.

As the show is based on Martin’s own experiences, she suffered from a lot of anxiety leading up to the launch of the first series.

Martin said she’s still a little apprehensive about the second season. “It was all such an unknown with series one. I had no idea how people would feel about it … last time I was just terrified about my parents watching it but now I know they love it, that’s a huge weight off so yeah I do feel a lot less freaked out.”

“Feel Good” will begin streaming on Netflix on Friday.

 

(Reporting by Rollo Ross; Editing by Diane Craft)

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