BLOOD RESERVE, ALTA. -- “Listen to Granny” is something many Indigenous children have heard throughout their lives, but it’s taken on a bit of a different meaning recently.

It’s the title of a new COVID-19 safety video produced by the Blood Tribe’s communications and community engagement department, which aims to help remind, inform and teach First Nations youth how to stay safe during the pandemic.

They came up with the idea of how to get safety messages across in a different way back during the summer.

“We had already put out some PSAs which were produced here, so we were at that creative level already,” said Blood Tribe communications director Pam Blood.

“We were saying, ‘Let’s talk to the kids, how can we do this?’ And then we kind of remembered Sesame Street and then it just popped in our mind. The way the kids were empowered and teaching one another.”

Blood said she immediately thought of DerRic Starlight, an Indigenous puppeteer from the Tsuut’ina Nation, and then the idea really got off the ground.

“Once I heard about the project, I became instantly excited to get involved," Starlight said. "As a parent and puppeteer, I too wanted to do my part to help make a difference, and this video idea provided me with the perfect opportunity to do just that."

The video stars the Nuppets, Starlight’s native puppets, being taught by Granny how to wear a mask properly.

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“Once Starlight came down and we pitched the idea to him, the creativity with the script started flowing. We really pulled our resources together and made sure it got off in a timely way,” Blood said.

For the past month, the communications and community engagement department has worked with Starlight to create, develop and film two videos.

So far, the feedback to the first video has been positive.

“Seeing ourselves on TV again and catering to kids as well. The song is catchy and it sticks with you for a while. So, yeah, overall it’s been pretty positive.”

The video was first released on Monday, Oct. 12th, on the Blood Tribe’s website and other social channels.

The video’s more light-hearted approach to spreading the safety message is another example of the success the Blood Tribe has had keeping COVID-19 at bay, with no active cases for several weeks.

It also provides a means for residents and Starlight’s talents to be seen in a different light.

“I think it’s just kind of more so seeing our own people in media, in a different way. Recently there have been some challenging times that our First Nations and Indigenous Peoples have been experiencing in Canada, and taking a kind of narrative on our own is really important,” Blood said, adding that having this kind of presence on the air is something they need to continue to work towards.

To that end, the Blood Tribe and Starlight are working on more videos to come in the future which will focus on other safety measures that have been implemented since the pandemic began.