Author, blogger, journalist and advocate of aboriginal rights are just a few words to describe the accomplishments of Lisa Charleyboy. She is the Co-Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Urban Native Magazine, a lifestyle magazine dedicated to inspire Indigenous youth North America, and was named by the Huffington Post as one of three Aboriginal Millennials to watch. Read on and learn Lisa’s secrets to happiness, life, success and style.
Occupation: Co-Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Urban Native Magazine
Astrological sign: Virgo
Favourite guilty pleasure: Bulletproof Coffee and lots of it!
Favourite song: "Sisters featuring Northern Voice" by A Tribe Called Red
29Secrets: You’ve had an online presence for several years; first, with your personal blog Urban Native Girl and now with Urban Native Magazine. How has the Internet help shape your life and career path?
Lisa Charleyboy: The internet has greatly impacted both my personal and professional life. I started out in Professional Writing at York University and it was during my third year when I decided to start a blog, Urban Native Girl, in 2008. I had also started with online social media platforms like My Space (yes, I know …) and Facebook which helped me connect to Aboriginal and Native American people from all over North America. This helped increase my readership in those communities. Once I started on Twitter in 2009 my audience grew steadily with non-Indigenous people interested in Native issues and pop-culture. Now I have launched my magazine, Urban Native Magazine, and chose to do so online first since it's an arena I'm very comfortable with and is easy to do so as a lean startup.
You come from a mixed race background – Tsilhqot’in, Mexican, Cherokee and Dutch. Did you find it difficult to fit in and identify with these cultures growing up? What’s your view your multicultural heritage now?
I had identity issues growing up as I wasn't raised with my Tsilhqot'in (First Nations) family and was raised essentially in a Dutch household in the suburbs. It was only later in my life that I began to connect with my First Nations heritage and culture, which has been a blessed journey and continues to be. As a mixed race person, I do acknowledge all parts of my heritage and I look forward to further exploration into my Mexican and Cherokee roots in my future.
You recently published your first book Dreaming in Indian: Native American Voices, a collection of articles and art by Native authors and artists. How did you come up with this idea? Can you describe the process?
The idea actually came to me. My co-editor, Mary Beth Leatherdale, has been working in youth and children's publishing for many years and has worked with Annick Press, the publisher, for a while as well. She came up with the concept and approached me to work with her on the project idea. Together we came up with a solid lineup of fantastic artists, writers, photographers, and graphic designers to collaborate with for this anthology. After we came up with the structure of the book and what we were looking for, we reached out to the talented people that we knew or had heard of and we began to collect the work. We also had a few open calls so that we could reach younger voices. It was an amazing experience and I'm pleased to say that we are now working on our second book with Annick Press.
No too long ago Pharrell Williams was heavily criticized for wearing a Native American headdress on the July 2014 cover of Elle UK, which he later apologized for. What’s your opinion on this?
There is simply no excuse in this day and age for anyone to be wearing a headdress that is not of Native American/First Nations descent from a plains nation that has earned the right to wear it and has had it bestowed upon them. Adrienne Keene of Native Appropriations blog writes about this very well.
What are your favourite go-to pieces in your wardrobe?
I am actually very classic. I like functional, high quality garments that can take me wherever my adventures send me. I have a LBD by Theory that I wear often and works well for both business conferences, and cocktails. I live in my Citizens of Humanity jeans that I got from Lavish & Squalor on Queen Street West and I love all of my (many) pairs of Manitobah Mukluks and moccasins pretty much all year round. I particularly LOVE my Annie McKay Storyboots from Manitobah Mukluks as well.
If you could create a recipe for happiness, what would it contain and why?
I am trying to create my very own recipe every single day! I love that my life contains many different avenues of expression and that I get to be an entrepreneur. Urban Native Magazine allows me to meet all sorts of interesting people, as does my new venture in writing books. I enjoy traveling and attending functions from music festivals to high-end galas and everything in-between. My happiness lies in my ability to own my own time, choose what I'd like to focus on (business to arts), and plenty of travel!
If you could spend Sunday brunch with a famous person (celebrity or historical figure), who would it be and why?
Ooh this is a great question. One that I've thought about often, but my answer always vacillates depending on what is capturing my attention at the moment … but one person I've always wanted to meet is Oprah. I admire her ability to overcome adversity, build a successful career, and become a multi-media mogul. I'd ask her for her tips and tricks on how she was able to achieve so much.