Cowichan Valley’s Lilian Thorne is one of just 40 First Nations people from across Canada who has been selected to participate in the TikTok Accelerator for Indigenous Creators program.
Thorne, a member of the Squamish First Nation who is married to a member of Cowichan Tribes, is a learning-assistance teacher at Stz’uminus Community School in Ladysmith.
She said she will use the skills gained through the program to highlight her relatives’ experiences in residential schools.
TikTok’s online training program, which is being presented by the National Screen Institute, offers guidance from some of TikTok’s leading Indigenous creators to empower the selected storytellers on the platform and beyond with the skills needed to grow their presence on TikTok and build a successful digital career.
TikTok said in a statement that it is continuing with its commitment to showcase and celebrate Indigenous creators and help empower their storytelling.
“With an incredible number of applications received from every province and territory in Canada, 40 participants were chosen by an independent selection committee of Indigenous screen industry professionals, TikTok staff and Indigenous TikTok creators,” the statement said.
“Co-developed with the National Screen Institute and TikTok Canada with both traditional and spiritual elements in mind, the program’s curriculum offers creators customized, skills-based training sessions covering topics like navigating TikTok, technical training, career building and digital wellness.”
Thorne said she’s inspired in her work by Indigenous children because of how precious they are.
She said her life experiences have been enmeshed with trauma, trauma processing, healing and learning.
“As a child, I didn’t understand what was happening around me and I was 19 when I learned about residential schools,” Thorne said.
“My four grandparents, both parents and step dad attended different schools. It was and continues to be hard to see the impact of residential schools on my primary-care providers, myself, my children and granddaughter. My grandparents believed in cultural ways of healing. I know a little and am praying to learn more. I value the teachings of my ancestors and do my best to practice those values.”
Thorne said she has been a TikTok user since before the COVID-19 pandemic and a friend told her about the TikTok Accelerator for Indigenous Creators program.
She said she felt it would be a great way to share her family’s stories about their experiences in residential schools to a whole new audience.
“My audience on TikTok currently runs from students in middle school to people my own age,” she said.
“My relatives have given me permission to speak about their experiences in residential schools on TikTok. My hope and dream is that my stories can help people in their personal lives.”