Nunavik-born throat singer showcases Inuit culture on TikTok

Puvirnituq’s Shina Novalinga has amassed 1.6M followers on social media platform

Nunavik-born Shina Novalinga is pictured here wearing a handmade outfit, one of the things she showcases on her TikTok account where she posts videos about Inuit culture. (Photo provided by Rachele Tang)

By Mélanie Ritchot

Just under year ago, Shina Novalinga posted her first video of her throat singing with her mother on TikTok. Now, over 1.6 million people worldwide watch the 22-year-old’s videos about Inuit culture.

Novalinga, who started throat singing around the age of seven after moving to Montreal, said her account took off after her mother, Caroline, had the idea to post a video of them singing together.

At first she was a bit shy to post the videos, she said, but in the end, it was worth it.

“It always brings us joy and we have a stronger connection every time we throat sing,” she said.

Shina Novalinga throat sings with her mother Caroline on TikTok. (Screenshot from TikTok)

On Sunday, the college student-by-day posted a video sitting cross-legged on the floor and eating raw caribou meat, cutting off pieces with an ulu.

In an earlier video, she shows different traditional outfits handmade by her mother.

Novalinga said other Inuit have reached out to her online, saying people have started to notice their traditional clothing in public.

“They’re happy that more people are acknowledging and appreciating our unique culture because not a lot of people knew about it,” she said.

Novalinga is also working with other Indigenous people now. She’s posted videos with James Jones, a traditional hoop dance artist who goes by @notoriouscree on TikTok.

“Our goal is to definitely have more representation,” she said about herself and other Indigenous people on social media. “Having more people around the world understand our culture and finally having a voice.”

Having Indigenous people seen in the mainstream like this helps youth appreciate their identities and not be ashamed of their culture, said Novalinga.

She said she hopes to sing with other Inuit throat singers she has connected with over social media too.

Amid the positive comments and feedback, she still sees racist jokes and reactions to her videos, she said in a video she posted, addressing someone mocking traditional throat singing on TikTok.

“That’s why so many of our people are afraid to show parts of our culture, because of the judgement, because of the criticism and because of jokes like that,” she said in the video.

She said having such a large platform and educating people about Inuit culture does come with some pressure.

“I really didn’t know I was going to be the face of my people,” she said.

But, she said she’s grateful she has this platform, which older generations didn’t have.

In December, Novalinga and her mother raised more than $12,400 through an online fundraiser to bring Christmas stockings full of supplies and gifts to Indigenous women at a shelter in Quebec.

She was born in Puvirnituq and moved South to Montreal when she was about five years old, she said.

Novalinga goes by the username @shinanova on TikTok.

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(16) Comments:

  1. Posted by Very good on

    This is great. I don’t think for a moment that people are mocking her at all. What people are mocking is the behaviour of many Inuit that interfere with Inuit like her. Her challenge needs to be understood in the behaviour of abuse of alcohol and drugs by those Inuit that make Inuit look bad. Those Inuit that are contributing to making Inuit look bad on the world scene. That’s her biggest hurdle to overcome, and I wish too there were a way to lessen the abuse, and to show the world that Inuit are indeed great people.

    • Posted by TeWai Hohaia on

      Addiction, is rampant amongst most Indigenous Cultures! Our suffering does not make us look bad, It is “other” peoples perception of us, people who lack understanding. We all celebrate this young woman and how she contributes to her culture, and we are not ashamed of who we are! Your comments were filled with shame and embarrassment instead of love and compassion!

      • Posted by Pamela Brown on

        I totally agree with you. There is nothing to be ashamed of. The Inuit culture is wonderful. I love everything about the culture The traditional activities: throat singing, which is so unique,the Char that I love with a passion, but most of all the people, who some people believe they’re less than because of their struggles. We all as human beings struggle everyday, whether it is addiction to drugs and alcohol, mental illness, It is better to reach out and support, instead of shaming and blaming. Stay Safe. God is in control. Blessed Love..

    • Posted by Tiffany on

      We are a great people. Nothing will change that. We are still healing from intergenerational trauma. The English tried to erase our culture, our language , our way of life. For anyone that wants to say get over it that it is in the past it’s not really in the past if it still affects generations today. My mother, my aunts and uncles were in residential school. I have family that is still missing from the 60’s scoop. Family that has been beaten and assaulted. How do a people cope with their way of life ripped from them? Names taken, given English names and numbered tags to make identification easier. We are still healing. It can be ugly and messy and awful. Why are we made to feel like we have to apologize because healing isn’t as swift or as neat and clean as others would have it because if makes them uncomfortable.

      • Posted by Southern supporters on

        Well said Tiffany, Inuit people should move back onto the land away from the
        Settlements where there has been so much misery and sadness for the past
        fifty years or so.
        Take pride in dog teams and igloo building in the way of your respected elders.
        Good Luck.

    • Posted by Robert on

      You would do well to educate yourself before making a comment like this.

  2. Posted by Harley Neal on

    As I was told by an elder when I began playing Native American flute at powwows, “I have been asked by the elders around this circle to tell you to keep doing what you are doing but know that you will be surrounded by yapping dogs”.

    • Posted by Maryann on

      So true. Doesn’t matter who you are, your culture,race, religion, color or gender.
      Someone always is envious or jealous, or just ignorant and make nasty comments.
      The dogs yapping.
      It’s sad but itjustdoes not seem to just gets greater.

  3. Posted by Wow, Upigivagit on

    What a beautiful amazing figure, never mind about negative comments .

    I am glad that you are truly passing our culture, upigusuutjivunga ilinnik, especially when you throat sang with your Mother.

    People who tries to add negative remarks of our living life, mind their own comments, they are just trying to belittle Inuit, when we hold tight together as being Inuk, we still hold our culture, eat our own country food, we have great hunters and fishermen that provides our living.

    Our Values, Our Lives matters!

    Kajusigit – Continue

    • Posted by Economy Jobs on

      Hunters and fishermen are not the way towards our future. Too many of us haven’t realized that.

      • Posted by I have a grandmother who survived from fishing on Ungava Bay, you have no idea! on

        Yes our culture remains meaning of life, surviving life through fishing or unless hunting to survive to avoid starvation!

        I have a Grandfather whom died from starvation!

        But us women are still fond of our culture.

  4. Posted by Reality Check, 1 2 1 2 on

    I decided to check out Shina’s Tik Tok page last night to search out these negative comments, which must be very few because I did not see any to be honest, though given that this is social media I am sure they are in there somewhere. To everyone reacting to these perceived slights I would urge you to do the same; go look and see for yourself, don’t just passively accept this narrative from the media or from Shina, because for the most part this page is a filled with positive sentiments to outright gushing and fawning.

  5. Pingback: Nunavik-born throat singer showcases Inuit culture on TikTok - TikTok News
  6. Posted by Anita Fineday on

    Thank you for publishing this and telling the world. Native people around the world have been dismissed and ignored. Love your singing!

  7. Posted by Kelly on

    Be proud of yourself and your culture!!! Love your singing. God made many different cultures for us to learn and shares to those who do want to learn ! Stand strong and carry on for your culture!!

  8. Posted by Feis Kontrol on

    It’s interesting that the two most viewed articles on Nunatsiaq at the moment of this writing are about young Tik Tok stars. Look at the views, they dwarf the other articles. Now, if you can understand how that came to be, you can understand 1.3 million followers.

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