Michelle Chubb: She’s Talking Now
She used to be shy, but now Michelle Chubb has a voice and a platform, and she’s not afraid to use it. The Indigenous TikTok star (with more than half a million followers!) is creating content to educate non-Indigenous people and inspire Indigenous youth to be themselves. She’s an advocate who’s raising awareness of issues faced by Indigenous communities. It’s been a tremendous year for her, with modelling campaigns for BonLook and Sephora, interviews with Teen Vogue and Fashion MAGAZINE, being named as one of Top 25 Women of Influence 2021 — and she became a new mom. City Life sat down to talk to Chubb about her life now.
When Michelle Chubb was growing up, there weren’t a lot of people to look up to. A few years ago, when not quite so many people were using TikTok, Chubb just wanted to try it out, so she posted a few videos about her culture. People started commenting, asking about Indigenous people, and she wanted to start educating others about misinformation. “I wanted to fix that,” she says simply. And now she does — tackling issues from missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, to colonization, cultural genocide and two-spirit people.
She really likes to share her culture, and when a summer powwow was cancelled because of the pandemic, she posted a video of herself dancing in the jingle dress she had made. It took Chubb awhile to make the dress, to express her vision and arrange the colours. “It features flowers on the sleeves, and the dress is red with gold and pinkish detailing. And the jingle cones are gold, which match the gold from the red dress,” she explains. She started incorporating her jingle dress dancing on TikTok — people loved it and bestowed thousands of likes on the video. “They were honouring that I was sharing my culture,” she adds.
From then on, things happened fast. At the end of the year, she landed a modelling opportunity with BonLook, and Teen Vogue wanted to do an interview. Sephora called, asking her to model for the company. “It’s just so surreal,” she says. “I didn’t think that these opportunities would come to me [when] I was growing up.”
Recently, Chubb gave birth to a baby girl, Pîsim, which means sun. “It’s super life-changing,” she says. “I thought I would have more energy to do the things that I was planning on doing, but the baby takes so much energy — I’m tired at the end of the day.” So, she’s learning to roll with the punches and she’s even incorporating the baby into some of her videos, recently posting one of her wrapping up the baby snugly in her moss bag so she can have a good sleep.
“I always try to remember the experiences I’ve been through, and I try to stay humble”
Chubb feels good about where she’s standing right now. She has a lot of goals and a lot of irons in the fire, hoping for more modelling opportunities, a magazine cover perhaps, even looking forward to exploring TV and acting. But most of all, Chubb wants to help Indigenous youth to find their own voice and to feel more comfortable in their own skin. When she looks in the mirror now, she sees a strong Indigenous woman. But she hasn’t forgotten where she came from and that helps her to stay true to herself, especially now with all the social media attention. “I always try to remember the experiences I’ve been through, and I try to stay humble,” she adds.
She’s proud of what she has accomplished and how far she has come. “There weren’t too many Indigenous people in my classes. I went to a predominantly white school,” she says. “Sometimes it was uncomfortable because I would have conversations with them, and they wouldn’t get it.” She was shy, and so she was pretty quiet. “But I started to come out of my shell after high school,” she says. “Just having that ripple effect makes my younger self proud, being able to do that for myself and other Indigenous youth.”
Her advice to young girls is simple. “Don’t worry about what people think of you,” she says. Because that’s what she used to worry about and that’s one thing that can stop your voice from coming out. And her definition of happiness is pretty simple, too. “Being yourself,” she says without skipping a beat.
INTERVIEW BY ESTELLE ZENTIL