CANMORE – As a little girl growing up in Canmore, Marika Sila remembered tears rolling down her cheeks during her father's presentation in front of her Grade 3 class.
She couldn't figure out what reason caused her to became so overwhelmed with emotion at the time.
Her father, Angus Cockney, a versatile artist and residential school survivor from the Northwest Territories, told the story of his 1989 expedition to the North Pole with an international team, including Robert Swan, the first man to walk to both Poles.
The Icewalker, as Cockney became known, was a trusted and respected part of the team, teaching his expansive knowledge of the north to the group and being trusted with holding the expedition's only rifle in case of a run-in with a polar bear.
His perception and understanding of the frozen desert helped to make the ice walk a success.
"I never told my dad I was straight up crying," said Sila. "It was a total sense of being so proud of my dad and my culture and everything he achieved and had achieved and still is.
"It was the first time I was so overwhelmed with pride with my culture."
The moment between the two was shared on Sila's new podcast, RedPath Radio, which debuted last month.
Like her father sharing his insight on the expedition, Sila, an actress, social media influencer, and now podcast host, said RedPath Radio will preserve Indigenous knowledge in a modern way; highlighting Indigenous Elders and community leaders' wisdom and sharing Indigenous ways and belief systems with the world.
Sila added the podcast is for everyone's ears, but hopes it can inspire Indigenous youth.
Guests will also include top athletes, artists and entrepreneurs in the world sharing the airwaves with Sila, including Olympian and Sila’s older brother Jesse Cockney; the first Canadian and first Indigenous Mrs. Universe winner Ashley Callingbull; real estate investor guru Brittany Arnason; Olympic gold medallist Chandra Crawford; and former NFL running back Niyi Shobo.
"My goal with RedPath Radio is to provide an outlet of knowledge for the world for anyone interested in health, wellness, culture, and career building, but also in a time of political strife and unruly racism, I believe that it’s a perfect time to build an online community that is rooted in unity and focused on learning from each other so we can not only co-exist, but strive together," said Sila.
Sila is of Inuvialuit heritage from Tuktoyaktuk, located in the far reaches of Northwest Territories that borders the Arctic Ocean. Her family moved to Canmore when she was a child.
As an Indigenous woman, Sila is often met with people unsure of how to address common questions that she and other Indigenous Canadians are asked.
She said one of her goals with RedPath Radio is to educate the masses to feel more confident in their approach.
"I think that it’s such a touchy subject and so many people are just simply too polite to ask the questions that are really important for growth in our society," said Sila. "My goal is to answer those important, burning questions that the people are sometimes too afraid to ask, and in that way my goal is to bridge the gap of understanding between all races so we can grow and thrive together."
RedPath Radio, for example, is named after the Indigenous phrase, “Walking The Red Road.” It symbolizes a life of health and wellness and free from drugs and alcohol, which resonates deeply with the podcast host after she started her path to sobriety eight years ago.
Sila also expressed the lifestyle as a life of humbleness, respect, friendship, love, and empowerment.
“So walking the red path is basically, for anyone listening, it’s for walking the path that is best-suited to you and your goals and dreams,” she said.
"No matter what race, gender or identity we’re from, we all have something to learn from another."
RedPath Radio podcast is available for free on all popular streaming services.