Cariboo Chilcotin rising star Lisa Charleyboy has embarked on a new venture: a TV show airing now on APTN called Urban Native Girl, portraying her own story of what she calls native renaissance.
Born in Williams Lake and a member of the Alexis Creek Indian Band, she lived on reserve until the age of five when her mother, Leona Charleyboy, moved the family to Abbotsford. Lisa moved to Toronto when she was 17 years old.
She is editor-in-chief of Urban Native Magazine, which focuses on pop culture with an Aboriginal focus, has been named one of Canada’s top 10 fashion bloggers and released a book in 2014 with author Mary Beth Leatherdadale called Dreaming in Indian: Contemporary Native American Voices.
Lisa’s father passed away when she was four years old and she said they never really felt welcomed in their home community after that. “Having my father choose to marry a non-native white Christian missionary, going against the grain of his family and his community had a huge impact on our lives and on my subconscious,” she explained. “My mom was blamed for his death, and with no community connection left, made the decision to move us away.”
Her mom started university in Abbotsford at age 40, a single mom with three kids to raise. Lisa said that her material and focus for the TV show is 100 per cent reflective of what the family lived through.
She explained that her indigenous lifestyle magazine’s demographic is young Aboriginal youth struggling with identity, and includes success stories in relatable, fresh ways, showcases fashion designers, artists and homes. “It’s a very city magazine with a world view and indigenous content,” she said.
When it comes to the success she has achieved she says everything happened by accident.
“I didn’t intend to be a writer: didn’t think it was my calling. I took writing to become a professional fashion designer and while I was writing I started exploring culture and that changed the course of my career,” she noted.
“I created my own space for this — it took a lot of work and perseverance and sheer drive. It took a lot of hours alone on my laptop.
“If I have a message for youth today it is to dream the biggest dream they can think of, write it down or make a collage, hold that every single day and keep striving forward,” she continued. “If you can dream it you can create it.”