From a Journalism Journey to Digital Dreams: Savanna Chiblow Creates a New Story for Herself
She went from studying journalism to digital dreams, creating a new story for herself. Savanna Chiblow is Anishinaabe from Mississagi First Nation on her mother’s side, with connection to Serpent Rivers Nation. Her dad’s family are French and Italian. She lived in Sioux Sainte Marie for most of her life and has lived in Toronto for over a decade. Now, she works as the social media and digital communications manager with the Indigenous Screen office.
The Screen Office focuses on narrative sovereignty, helping with the production of films and TV series, and digital and immersive works. In the past, she’s worked as a Communications Assistant around Indigenous employment and training and as a community engagement coordinator at Humber College. She’s brought her web and social media strategy experience to festivals like Imaginative and TIFF, as well as the Indigenous Fashion Arts Festival. Referral and word of mouth have got her into these roles and new opportunities.
Originally, Chiblow went to school for journalism at Humber College, hoping to become a writer and a storyteller. In her final two years of university, she became an intern with the Toronto Pan Am and Para Pan Am Games, with a year to go before the games would take place. As part of their digital content team, she worked on their website, gaining new skills on the job. Chiblow wrote social media copy for the first time and improved her copy and video editing skills she learned in journalism to encourage engagement and interaction in the digital realm. She realized she wasn’t going to become a journalist and became focused on digital in her studies.
Those journalism skills came in handy in the end. Chiblow has found employers are looking for journalism graduates because of the way they communicate and connect with people. She took a multi-disciplinary program that didn’t force her to choose between print or broadcast. From copywriting, video editing, podcasting, audio recording and editing, coding and digital content production, she learned a wide range of skills, learning the ins and outs of being a multidimensional journalist, as she describes it.
The training she received made her adaptable, she feels, and she’s continued her education by learning about accessibility design. In that program, she learned to incorporate assistive technology into social media through alt text, captions and more in a blended approach to creating accessible content that met the needs of many different disabled people. She did an Indigenous Women's Leadership training during the pandemic, hoping to prepare herself for leadership roles. Recently, she completed a web development certificate with Brain Station, finding out all the nitty gritty details of coding, building websites and learning programming languages.
After leaving home to move to Toronto, she has advice for Indigenous students thinking of leaving their home communities. “I think it's a huge leap, so it's always a great success when you do land into a new environment,” she encourages. Chiblow encourages students to check out their school’s indigenous Student Services and all the resources they have available. Navigating a big city and a new transit system can be intimidating, but finding a Friendship Centre of Indigenous community network can make a difference.
To balance her mental health and well being, Chiblow believes in connecting to culture any ways she can. She didn’t do so at first when she moved to Toronto, but when she did, it helped a lot for her mental health. She loves going on long walks on hiking trails, connecting with and finding peace in nature and spending time with friends and family. Therapy and counselling can be helpful tools and it can even be free of charge in some cases.
In the work that she does, Chiblow finds inspiration in small teams where she can brainstorm. She has people she can bounce ideas off of and seek advice from. She likes to consume media and make crafts. Chiblow loves to understand the structure of things, whether they are earrings or a medallion and having something she made with her own hands at the end of a project.
In closing, Chiblow has words of encouragement for Indigenous youth. “When it comes to your journey in your career, things happen in a way that works out. I feel like a lot of time in my career, I was always so concerned about finances and money, and where will I sort of find a job, but everything works out in a really unique way… Sometimes you can stress about ‘when am I going to eat next’ or ‘how am I going to be able to afford rent?’ but as you grow in your career, things will drop into place, which is really nice. I wish I had relaxed a bit more when I was younger,” she shares.
From a journalism journey to digital dreams, she ended up creating a new story for herself. Savanna Chiblow has used her skills to make her mark on the internet and contribute to teams doing exciting things. Now working on narrative sovereignty in the Indigenous Screen Office, she’s impacting media in ways she’s never imagined and learning new techniques along the way.
Thanks to Alison Tedford Seaweed for authoring this article.
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Funding is generously provided by the RBC Foundation in support of RBC Future Launch, and the Government of Canada's Supports for Student Learning program.