Ukrainian TikToker recognized at Regina powwow for his interest in Indigenous culture

A 19-year-old TikToker from Ukraine moved to Regina a year ago only to discover his newfound interest in learning about Indigenous peoples and their culture. Photo supplied: Andrian Makhnachov

A 19-year-old TikToker is gaining recognition for his special interest in Indigenous peoples and their culture.

Since Andrian Makhnachov arrived in Regina from Ukraine last year, he was in culture shock, from seeing all the roaming rabbits in the Queen City to hearing about the history of Indigenous peoples.

“I never heard of (Indigenous) peoples. Maybe somewhere I learned about (them) in school as a kid,” he said.

“I started reading on the internet and I (asked) my Canadian friend about them and he told me (some) stories. (We) went visiting to the museum in Regina (where) there’s a lot about Indigenous culture. I hear a lot of really sad stories like about this residential schools.”

With a large social media follower list, Makhnachov started using TikTok as a platform to document what he is learning about Indigenous peoples. For the past few weeks, he was making videos to prepare himself to attend his very first powwow in Regina.

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Little did he know, his videos went viral, gaining him a lot of followers and respect from the Indigenous community.

“To be honest, I was scared … to do something wrong,” he said.  “For example, I was calling regalia costumes but people never (got) angry about it. People would say ‘you will learn’ and I feel a lot of support.”

Photo supplied: Andrian Makhnachov.

This past weekend, Makhnachov attended his very first powwow held in Regina at the Brandt Centre. It was the annual First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv) Spring powwow that kicks off powwow season in the Prairies, attended by thousands of people from across Turtle Island.

“I didn’t expect to see what I saw, and I felt a lot of emotion,” he said. “I was like shaking, I didn’t know what was happening. It’s so cool, I felt like I did something very important. I will remember (this) for all my life.”

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Powwow organizers had seen his TikTok videos being circulated on social media, and they wanted to recognize him in a special way by introducing him during grand entry amongst the other dignitaries. He received a round of an applause which made him emotional.

“I was crying like this because I didn’t expect it,” he said. “It was like a very big family. Everyone was talking with me, taking pictures. They (brought) me a lot of gifts.”

This won’t be Makhnachov’s last time at a powwow. He is already looking forward to the next one and says he will continue to share his experiences and what he learns of Indigenous peoples on TikTok.

He hopes many others will follow suit to learn more about Indigenous peoples and to attend a cultural celebration.

“I feel good to feel important,” he said. “I have a lot of stories about powwows and how cool it is … every video in my TikTok now (is) about Indigenous culture because I’m still impressed.”

Click to play video: 'First Nations University of Canada kicks off its annual spring powwow in Regina'
First Nations University of Canada kicks off its annual spring powwow in Regina

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