Urban Native Magazine – Digital Storytelling and Community Building

I recently read about Urban Native Magazine in the Financial Post. It was started by Lisa Charleyboy, a storyteller, blogger and tweeter turned magazine creator. From the Post article:

Identified as an aboriginal millennial to watch by Huffington Post, it’s clear Ms. Charleyboy understands how to use social media — a fashion writer and editor she was named one of Canada’s top fashion bloggers, as well as one of Toronto’s top tweeters. Now, she plans to use the medium to inform her latest venture, Urban Native Magazine, an online publication with a clear mission: To be the go-to destination for current articles on Indigenous fashion, art, culture, entertainment, lifestyle, news and business.

The magazine, aimed at 15 to 35 year-old aboriginal people in North America, will use editorial content and social media streams such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram to create positive change for aboriginal youth by getting them talking about social, political and pop culture issues, breaking down stereotypes and sharing success stories.

What I really like about this story is the positivity. Ms. Charleyboy is quoted in the article as saying “As a teenager and young woman, I did not see positive reflections in mainstream media of Indigenous and native people in a current and modern context.” And so she did something about it. She created a blog – which has now turned into this magazine – to highlight the success stories and provide positive role models that she didn’t see when she was younger.

A similar quote in the article is from JP Gladu, president and chief executive of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB): “Certainly there are challenges, but if you are a young aboriginal person and all you read in the media is how your communities are failing, what seed will that plant in your psyche? On the other hand, if you start to see success stories of people just like you adding value to society, that’s where you start to develop pride. Positive energy breeds positive energy.”

In my work in the health care sector I’ve had the opportunity to work with our Aboriginal Health team and had the honour of attending some ceremonies and meetings in many First Nations communities in our region. Mr. Gladu’s comment made me reflect on the fact that, in the health field, we often hear about the disparities in health status experienced by Aboriginal people compared to non-Aboriginal people – for a very broad range of health indicators, Aboriginal people have a significantly worse health outcomes. And of course it’s important to identify and address these inequities so we can work together to correct the injustices. But equally important is to look at what’s working and to highlight those success stories. Through my work with our Aboriginal Health team, I’ve seen some fantastic things happening in many communities and it’s so awesome to see Urban Native Magazine doing that work on a large scale, engaging youth in their culture and providing them with positive role models.

The other aspect of this story – which relates to the digital marketing theme of my blog at the moment – is the integration of a variety of social media platforms – blogging, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – with a focus on conversation and building community. As the title of the Financial Post article (“An aboriginal storyteller for the digital generation: Entrepreneur aims to get native culture in front of today’s youth”) highlights, storytelling is an important part of Aboriginal culture and digital marketing tools allow people to tell stories in new ways and reach new audiences. I’ll certainly be keeping my eye on this magazine to see what new and exciting things they are doing!

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2 Responses to Urban Native Magazine – Digital Storytelling and Community Building

  1. Thank you so much for reading, sharing, and for your kind words!

  2. Beth says:

    Thanks for visiting! And thanks for the great work you do – you are an inspiration!

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