Our experiences in our formative years as children can greatly determine whether we end up on the right path in life.
Fortunately for Terrance Littletent, the influence of a special mentor and the power of hoop dancing helped him overcome a childhood filled with the sad scourges of “racism and bullying”. Littletent, a cultural engagement advisor at the Regina Public School division, brought a powerful, and occasionally humorous, message of empowerment to the youth at the Leaders Creating Future Leaders Project on Jan. 30, a special Crime Stoppers initiative in cooperation with Conexus Credit Union and the Regina Intersectoral Partnership (TRIP).
“I was teased because of my hair, because of my skin color, basically because of who I was,” said Littletent. “I got to a point where I skipped school and I made excuses, like being sick.”
“At the age of eight, I was introduced to something that changed my life.” That was when his late uncle Kirby Littletent, exposed him to the “drums, my language, my culture and to dance.” From there, he gained not just the dedication and commitment to help him be successful at school, but also the pride in his heritage and the confidence to become an internationally-renowned hoop dancer.
“Hoop dancing changed my life to give me that self-respect for me. It made me proud of who I am today.”
“Without those things, I don’t know where I would be today,” he added. “I could be incarcerated, I could selling drugs on the street, running around, getting into trouble. But I took that initiative to learn my way of life.”
Littletent, with the help of five students and one adult, then led the audience through an informative and inspiring lesson about the five fundamental gifts that Aboriginal hoop dancing can teach about living a fulfilled life.
- Listen. “This is one of the teachings our young people have a tough time learning. As I was growing up, I wasn’t the best listener either to my parents, to my elders, to my teachers, but as I got older I came understand what it really meant to listen. The Creator gives the gift of hearing, to listen to the wonderful things in life.”
- Watch. “This is the gift to see the wonderful things of Mother Earth, to see the sunrise, the sunset, the color changes of the four seasons. We watch and see the good in people, never the negative. If we see someone being bullied, we use that sight and never walk away.”
- Knowledge. “We learn as much as we can about Mother Earth, and also from our teachers, our mentors, our role models.”
- Respect. “Respect for all different colors of people and nationalities here on Mother Earth.”
- Love. “My personal favorite is love. The Creator gave us a heart. Under the sky, we are all different, but we are all family. Love your parents, your teachers, your mentors.”
As he introduced each life lesson, Littletent led his students through the hoop dancing moves which were both remarkably simple yet required some great dexterity to do. As in life, the lessons are easy to understand but require practice and repetition to master!
Thanks to all the children and our adult volunteer who participated in the learning exercise, and nearly perfected every hoop dancing gyration and move without fail (well, almost!) And thanks to Terrance Littletent for sharing his inspiring motivational story to everyone present.