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March 15, 2019
On Wednesday, Animikii Thunderbird Jen Polack visited the First Peoples House at the University of Victoria to give a presentation on Social Media for Social Enterprises. This presentation discusses the importance of ensuring social media strategies are ethically conscious and also provide strategies on how to run campaigns rooted in the 7 Grandfather Teachings.
She presented to 13 students in the ISST 400 class and was hosted by Lisa Kahaleole Hall, the Director of the Indigenous Studies Program at Uvic. The presentation was well-received and well-timed, as the students were already in the process of brainstorming strategies on how to move their work on creating an Indigenous Studies curriculum framework for 10th-grade students to a broader audience.
Workshops like this are a part of Animikii’s Giving Back program. Upon her return, we caught up with Jen to see how the workshop went and what impact she hoped to make with the presentation.
Animikii: Why did you decide to give this presentation?
Jen: As an alumnus of Uvic, I remember when we used to have guest speakers to show us how we could apply our learning outside of the classroom. However, I never had a guest speaker that I could identify with on a cultural level. Instead, I had to take what the guest speaker said and apply it to my own worldview. By doing this presentation, I wanted to be the speaker I wish I had: an Indigenous woman in my own field whose work begins with values-based principles designed to benefit, not exploit, Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and communities across Turtle Island.
Animikii: What did you talk about?
Jen: I spoke about how it is our responsibility to use social media as a tool for good rather than a tool for profit and how this relationship works in a social enterprise. We also discussed strategies for launching a campaign, other social media tips and tricks, and the importance of grounding yourself in your values before, during, and after a campaign. Finally, we talked about some of Animikii’s digital communications projects, such as #Next150 and Animikii’s News River and blog, and discussed different strategies to use to move engagement away from the screen and into the real world.
Animikii: What part of the day did you find the most impactful?
Jen: For me, it was learning more about the students, their projects, and what they were doing in their own circles and communities to bring about social change. Just seeing everyone’s passions and interests really inspired me to think about what I was talking about through a completely new lens.
Animikii: Why do you think it’s important for organizations like Animikii to reach out to youth in this kind of capacity?
Jen: In a university setting where the very institution is rooted in a colonial ideology, emphasizing Indigenous voices is crucial when it comes to the decolonization of these institutions to reflect the values of the Peoples on whose land they sit. I see it as our responsibility as an Indigenous organization to reach out to these institutions and provide an alternative narrative, based on Indigenous principles, to prove that there is a different way to do things and, most importantly, that it works.
Animikii: Which of the 7 Sacred Teachings did you feel was most expressed during this event?
Jen: I feel that during this presentation everyone really honoured the Sacred Teaching of Wisdom. I shared my wisdom with the class, but they also shared their wisdom with me by making me think about aspects of a holistic social media approach that I've never thought about before. I was grateful and, quite honestly, humbled by the amazing feedback I received and how these students were so committed, curious, and passionate about creating a social media landscape that focuses on uplifting Peoples and communities rather than driving profit.
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March 15, 2019
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