Main menu


How a viral TikTok video about Inuit culture brought this mother and son closer together

They still can’t believe it. That’s almost ten times the total population of northern Canada.

“Honestly, it’s kind of weird. It’s pretty cool, but when you really think about it, you’re like, wow, that’s just nuts,” said Braden, who created the viral TikTok video with her mother Hobak. Johnston said Johnston.

A 56-second video posted last month shows Hovak demonstrating how to cut a muktuk using ulu. That’s all. No clever editing, music or gags in this video. Just a simple, sweet moment shared by a mother and son.

“It was a shock when we hit 1 million views, but it just kept going,” says Hovak.

This clip is by far the most popular TikTok video ever made, but it represents many other popular TikTok videos. but also their own evolving relationships.

In fact, the two credit TikTok for helping open a new chapter together.

“Well, our relationship is kind of complicated. It wasn’t strong to begin with,” Hobak said. “We were mother and son and we couldn’t even be in the same room together for more than five minutes.”

Mother and son in raincoats in green forest.
Hobak and Braden Johnston. The two believe they helped TikTok open a new chapter together. (submitted by Hovak Johnston)

Braden, who now lives in Calgary, explained how their relationship began to change after going to rehab as a high school student a few years ago.

“That’s when we really started to reconcile and reconnect with each other. Having my parents give me a safe place to heal allowed me to really open up and find myself.” was completed.

At the same time, Braden became more interested in his cultural identity as an Inuk. His mother, who now lives in Behchokǫ̀, NWT, has proven to be an invaluable resource and inspiration. I was.

“I learned a lot from her about what it means to be Inuit,” Braden said.

Hovak couldn’t be more proud. She says it’s “really amazing” to see Braden learn about and embrace his cultural heritage.

Other videos focus on abstinence, mental health and healing, indigenous identity issues, and more.

“We are very transparent and share everything in hopes of inspiring others,” Braden said.

Unscripted Moments Find Dedicated Audiences

The pair started making Tik Tok videos as a way to share Inuit culture together and with a wider audience. But soon they began to realize that the audience wasn’t just there for the muktuk, but also for the simple, often funny and moving exchanges of mother and son.

“It started when we pushed each other to share our stories and our knowledge. It shows sharing food — but in the end .

At the same time, the two found themselves close enough to create a video. They might make a video together for hours at night.

“It just adds up by spending a lot of time with each other,” Braden said. “Especially when you’re talking about an intimate topic or being vulnerable in front of a very large audience. It really helps make a connection.”

“We started embracing as well because it was so personal,” Hovak added. “That’s how we became close, and he started teaching me how to hug properly.”

A tall young man, woman, on a grassy ledge near the water.
Braden and Hobak Johnston. Before, “we were mother and child and he couldn’t even be with us for more than five minutes in the same room,” Hovak says. (submitted by Hovak Johnston)

They get a lot of feedback from people who say their videos give them hope.

“There are many people who can relate to our relationship in the sense that just as parents and children struggled to connect and be patient with each other and find time for each other, they also struggled,” Braden said. .

Hovak says he couldn’t have predicted how his relationship with Braden would evolve, grow stronger and deeper.

“We’re capturing it on video. Not intentionally, we didn’t mean to do it that way. It’s our journey, but we put it on film.”