It’s Women’s History Month, and we’re celebrating by talking to some of Canada’s biggest, and youngest, TikTok stars—fierce young ladies who are taking the social media platform by storm. Our chat with Sherry McKay revealed that this content creator, with nearly 270K followers, how she is using her voice to create change, establish community and help women and girls feel seen and understood. —Vita Daily
Hi Sherry! Please tell us a little bit about yourself to start!
I am Anishinaabe Ojibwe born in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Mother of four—three boys and one girl. I was raised by my grandmother who raised eight children before me. I was also a teen mom and dropout who went back to school in 2007 for my mature diploma. I graduated from the University of Winnipeg in 2010 as Valedictorian with a diploma in policing. My dream was to become a police officer. Soon after obtaining my diploma, I worked for a nonprofit that was changing lives in many different ways. It inspired me to change gears and move forward into creative communications either majoring in journalism or media pro, either way, I knew I wanted to focus on storytelling. I attended the Red River College for their Creative Communications program and failed Public Relations in my first semester. Even though I felt defeated, I knew I could still move forward somehow with the skills I’ve learned. I took a short course at the Adam Beach Film Institute, made some great connections, and built my confidence.
How did you achieve (and continue to maintain) your amazing TikTok following/fame?
I was an aspiring filmmaker and wanted to keep utilizing what I learned so I took to YouTube and just uploaded random vlogs, videos of thrift hauls and eventually found TikTok. I wanted to make a TikTok video to upload to YouTube. My daughter helped me make my own sound and afterward I deleted the app and continued with YouTube. I’ve also had the opportunity to write and direct a few short docs with CBC’s creator network. After some time, I re-uploaded TikTok and had about 69 followers and 27K views. I noticed I had a lot of comments that said I was “white” and not Indigenous. I discovered the representation for our indigenous people was very little and people had a preconceived notion of what Indigenous people looked like based on Hollywood stereotypes, so I wanted to change the narrative. I made sounds and participated in trends but put an Indigenous spin on it. Soon my following began to grow.
What topics do you cover/share most? Where do your passions lie?
I share real events that are happening, MMIW, systemic racism, racial profiling, and even things like lateral violence that we have in our own communities.
Have you ever had to deal with haters on social media? If so, what’s your approach?
I deal with racist hating comments every day, sometimes they go to my other socials and express their opinions. I normally block and delete, depending on what is said, I sometimes make an example out of their comment because people have this notion that Canada is this great place, but for Indigenous People, it is a constant battle.
What have some of the highlights of being so prominent on TikTok been for you?
My highlights have to be when I receive messages from people saying I’ve inspired them to embrace who they are or take a course in Indigenous studies or to use their voice. When people message me asking for advice on how to be a productive and meaningful ally, this warms my heart and makes every second I’ve spent on the app worthwhile. Coming from a culture where matriarchy was a thing of our practices before colonization, I find it extremely important to remind our women that we are incredibly strong and we carry the strengths of our ancestors.
October is Women’s History Month; what is the significance to you, and how are you using your voice to create change, establish community and help women and girls feel seen and understood?
The histories of women and contributions we’ve made are often hidden or overlooked and we need to remind ourselves and teach our girls that women are pioneers and trailblazers too. It’s inspiring to know how many women in history and today who have created spaces that women are at the forefront of many achievements. We need to emphasize and honour positive role models for our youth from all backgrounds specifically for our girls, but not exclusively. Young men have to see powerful, healthy women and not feel intimidation but pride that their sisters, aunties, and mothers are acknowledged.
With so many people following you on TikTok, who are some of your favourite female accounts to follow?
Some of my favorite female accounts to name a few: @Indigenousbri (MUA); @raybaans (Indigenous comedy); @saskmama; @kallmekris; @aliciamccarvell; @llilmaz; @oceanekitura; @goddessmia20; @unspokent; @aunt.Calei; @thatcrazy_1; @hannah_harpist. Check them out 🙂