This week I had the privilege of helping put on a social media seminar for First Nations communicators. Representatives from the Siksika Nation and the Piikani Nation, both in Alberta, were in attendance at our Social Media Strategy for First Nations “Quickinar.” Jeff Nelson, my partner in producing Quickinars, and I received much help in producing this seminar from Wayne Courchene, a social media success story in his own right.
Like me, Courchene is a newspaper veteran, having written for aboriginal publications such as the Sagkeeng News, Windspeaker and later his own publication, Isköté. In between he worked for Chief Phil Fontaine and the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and did a short stint at the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN).
In other words, Courchene is a seasoned communicator. That’s why it was such a thrill to have him come to our very first Quickinar last November. It was even more of a thrill to see how he took that one-day seminar and immediately set out to turn Isköté the newsletter into Isköté the blog (iskote.wordpress. com). Wayne went from zero to 60 in social media like no one I’ve seen. It was refreshing to see a writer find a new outlet for his voice.
So when Jeff and I started mulling over the notion of a First Nations Quickinar, we knew immediately who to turn to for guidance. Wayne connected us to the community, brought us to a few events, introduced us to key people and generally plugged us in to a scene we were woefully ignorant of.
The result was this week’s event, a wonderful new experience for me. In preparation for the seminar we did research (as we always do) to find examples and case studies relevant to the attendees. Not knowing what we might find, we were pleasantly surprised to discover a number of great social media examples.
First Nations peoples, like any community, are active in education, advocacy, community building, heritage, culture, tourism, entertainment and, well, everything else in life of course. That’s now spilling over into social media and the results are delightful.
“So much of our work is about dialogue and conversation. Progress does not result from one person’s opinion or understanding. The intent of this blog is to engage First Nation citizens, communities and all Canadians in thoughtful conversation, discussion and debate on improving the lives of First Nations.”
On a more grassroots level the Facebook page facebook.com/AB.SK.Nations has grown to 14,410 fans of Alberta and Saskatchewan First Nations and Metis -a vibrant community by any digital standards.
Turning to tourism, Saskatoon’s own national heritage site Wanuskewin Heritage Park has taken its first baby steps into social media with a Facebook page (find the link on Wanuskewin.com). Alberta’s HeadSmashedIn Buffalo Jump features a nice YouTube video from YouTube user albertapast (a government channel).
Nechi Training, Research & Health Promotions Institute from St. Alberta, Alta., has a Facebook page dedicated to holistic healing and healthy addictions-free lifestyles.
Self-described Urban Native Girl Lisa Charleyboy has a fabulous blog that was “born out of a love for writing, fashion, film, beauty, pop culture and all things Indigenous.” Lisacharleyboy.com is chock full of interesting writing, photos, videos and aboriginal resources. She also has a very active Facebook page (1,643 fans – c’mon Wanuskewin!) and Twitter account (3,920 followers).
One of the most powerful examples we came across, at firstnationhelp.com, was something called “Project 60,” a youth-driven video project so named because it was 1960 before First Nations people won the right to vote in federal elections. As reported on firstperspective.ca:
“Native Youth plan to leverage the fact that they are the nation’s fastest growing population segment and take on the issue of high on-reserve voting versus traditionally low involvement with national politics and their plans to change that.”
Many people have found their voice in social media. Now I know First Nations people are too. Have you found your voice?
Doug Lacombe is president of Calgary social media agency communicatto. He occasionally has too much voice at http: //facebook. com/communicatto.
Tags: AFN, facebook, first nation, FSIN, iskote, Jeff Nelson, Lisa Charleyboy, Phil Fontaine, piikani nation, project 60, quickinar, sagkeeng news, Shawn Atleo, siksika nation, Social Media, social media strategy, Wayne Courchene, windspeaker