The Relentless Indigenous Woman shared her experiences with a room full of Indigenous youth this week.
Candace Linklater grew up in Moose Factory, went to Timmins High and Vocational School, and she is a PhD candidate with a specialization in education and how a matriarchal approach could revolutionize current education systems.
She’s also a social media influencer and consultant, who sees the possibilities online for education and re-connection for Indigenous creators.
“It’s a call to remember who we are, to remember our rights, to remember our resilience,” she said about the increase in Indigenous social media visibility. “If that comes on social media, so be it.”
She shared her approach to finding one's voice and giving it strength during the second day of the Omushkego Youth Treaty Conference.
Her social media presence has exploded in the last year, growing to nearly 670,000 followers on Facebook.
She emphasized to the people attending the conference that sharing their experiences with racism and colonialism may make non-Indigenous people uncomfortable, and that discomfort is the responsibility of the people feeling it, not the person who shared their truth.
“What I consistently need to practice is putting it down, not the social media, but the attack,” she said. “Is this attack mine to carry? Is that actually about me? No, It’s about them, it’s a reflection of them.”
She used her current focus online — the use of cultural clothing as a costume for Halloween — as an example of how people react poorly to being challenged.
“It’s pissing a lot of people off, and the racism is there, and it’s right in everyone’s face without shame, but that’s why I do what I do,” she said. “I planted a seed, whether they like it or not.”
Those comments and interactions can serve a positive purpose as well.
“The more they comment, the more people like that will see it, because of the algorithm," she explained.
While Linklater seems to have a solid grip on how to weather the online storms that come with advocacy, there is always time for self-care, and as the only one running the Relentless Indigenous Woman page, it can be draining.
“I intentionally follow certain pages to uplift me and I make sure what’s surrounding me, what's coming to me, is for me," she shared.
Through this self-care and the work she does on her PhD and educational content online, Linklater said she ends up in places that aren’t always comfortable for her as an Indigenous woman, and at times she is the first Indigenous person in those spaces.
She focuses on an uplifting message when facing those challenges, and it’s one she shared with the convention attendees, in the hopes it will give them strength to use their voices.
“I don’t stand here alone. I bring my people with me wherever I go.”
Amanda Rabski-McColl, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com