Indigenous Youth Ask For Self-Defence Course

Martial arts expert Christina Keeper throws a punch towards Jarita Greyeyes during a martial arts demonstration on Wednesday.

Martial arts expert Christina Keeper throws a punch towards Jarita Greyeyes during a martial arts demonstration on Wednesday.

By: Dave Baxter Metro Published,  Sep 16 2015

Kids say they want skills to help them feel safe on the streets.

Young Indigenous people have been asking for ways to feel safe on the streets of Winnipeg, and an upcoming self-defence workshop hopes to help them take their safety into their own hands.

The University of Winnipeg’s Wii Chiiwaakanak Learning Centre has partnered with martial arts expert Christina Keeper to offer a self-defence workshop to members of their Sacred Seven program.

Sacred Seven works closely with Indigenous youth teaching them about having healthy relationships, and ways to build self-confidence.

The program also offers physical activity, and many in the group have been clamouring to learn self-defence.

“They came to us and they said they wanted to learn to defend themselves and we thought it was a great idea because we know our young people can be very vulnerable,” said Wii Chiiwaakanak Learning Centre manager Jarita Greyeyes.

Keeper, who will teach the course, said when she first came Winnipeg as a teenager she felt unsafe, so she eventually made the decision to learn martial arts.

“It’s not a good statistic that there are so many missing and murdered aboriginal women, so I wanted to be safe,” said Keeper.

“As a young woman I was lacking self-confidence, and I wanted to build that and be able to protect myself.

“A lot of girls have brought up the issue to me about missing and murdered women so I was listening to all these girls and I had a light bulb go off.

“I said ‘these girls should know how to protect themselves.’”

Keeper will also use the course to teach youth about staying away from situations where they could be vulnerable, because ultimately she never wants someone to have to defend themselves to stay safe.

“A lot of this is about confidence so they can walk around with their heads held high.”

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