Cultural Spotlight: Podcasting: space and storytelling

Podcasting has been growing as a media format. Inspired by oral storytelling, Darylina Powderface will be joining it this summer with Aiysiniiksin: Keeping the Tradition Alive.

“I want to see more Indigenous love and joy and I think there is room for that,” says Darylina Powderface.

Part of the podcast’s title, Aiysiniiksin, is a word translated from the Siksika language into English as “storytelling.”

Inspired by history and creating spaces

Powderface, a film artist-actor, is a Vancouver-based Simon Fraser University (SFU) graduate dedicated to making space for Indigenous stories and elevating Indigenous voices.

“[The podcast aims to] centre Indigenous stories, experiences, and ways of being, doing, knowing and creating through the embodiment of oral storytelling,” she says.

Aiysiniiksin: Keeping the Tradition Alive is part of the Savage Society, an organization founded in 2004 and dedicated to providing a space for Indigenous film and theatre workers to tell their stories.

A new podcast focuses on Indigenous stories and storytelling.

Powderface herself is of Blackfoot and Nakoda ancestry. Much of the Blackfoot’s histories and stories were, and continue to be, passed down through oral storytelling. Her own personal memories also served as an inspiration for Aiysiniiksin: Keeping the Tradition Alive.

“Growing up, I would go to my grandparent’s house for a visit and they’d just be sitting at the table drinking coffee while talking and sharing stories,” says Powderface. “I don’t think that happens as much anymore and I’d like to bring that back in a contemporary setting.”

Representation for Indigenous people in Canada is something Powderface wants to change with Aiysiniiksin: Keeping the Tradition Alive. She wants to help alter the way Indigenous folks are represented and break away from older, colonial narratives as well as provide a platform for all Indigenous voices who come from a diverse array of backgrounds.

“The term ‘Indigenous’ is so generalized, there’s so many different communities and people,” says Powderface. “A lot of Indigenous folks come from two different communities like those who have mixed Indigenous, Settler, or Black ancestry.”

Podcasts and elevating Indigenous artists

The idea for Aiysiniiksin: Keeping the Tradition Alive emerged during Powderface’s time as a university student. After moving from Treaty 7 Territory in Alberta to Vancouver in 2012, Powderface attended both the Vancouver Institute of Media Arts and SFU, graduating with a Bachelor’s of Theatre Performance from the latter in 2020.

“It was a seed that was planted by one of my mentors in university,” says Powderface. “She mentioned that maybe I should set up a podcast and talk to other Indigenous artists about their work, which was something I never thought of so I wanted to make that happen.”

In her opinion, there is still lots of work to be done in the world of arts to create more space for Indigenous artists, listing the film industry as an example. Powderface is not a stranger to the industry, having had roles on popular Canadian television shows such as Arctic Air.

“That space is small and more work needs to be done but the film industry is slowly making its way there,” she says.

As a performer in both film and theatre productions, Powederface’s dream guest for the podcast is Tantoo Cardinal, an Alberta-born actress of Cree and Métis heritage who acted in films like Dances with Wolves and Black Robe.

“I really look up to her as an Indigenous woman and as an artist, she’s been there from the beginning,” says Powderface.

Podcasts have exploded as a popular and valuable medium in the past decade. One of the most notable being The Joe Rogan Experience, which was licensed to Spotify for $100 million and millions of weekly listeners. In January 2021, 20 per cent of all Canadians had listened to podcasts, twice the rate of listeners in 2012, according to Monthly Podcast Listeners Canada. Powderface hopes her podcast can become a valuable place for Indigenous stories to be shared within the popular, relatively new medium.

“I want to be able to provide a platform for all Indigenous voices,” she says. “I want to be able to create those spaces and share their stories.”

For more information on Darylina Powderface and Aiysiniiksin: Keeping the Tradition Alive, visit www.savagesociety.ca

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