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Workshop teaches leadership

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

Fort Liard (May 02/05) - Go after your dreams.

That was the predominant message that Dakota House shared with Fort Liard youth while visiting the community last weekend.

House, an actor, director, producer and children's book author, is also a facilitator with Going MILES (Motivating, Inspiring, Leading, Empowering, Succeeding). He came to Fort Liard after a chance encounter with resident Jeff Myke on a reserve outside of Edmonton.

The Community Action Team supported the idea of bringing the youth empowerment workshop to their community.

More than a dozen teens and children showed up Saturday to rehearse an improv play entitled "The Dakota Springer Show."

House allowed the youth to decide the issues that the drama/comedy performance would address.

He incorporated their words into the script, which made them feel important, he noted.

The play's overriding theme was "Don't do drugs," said blossoming-actor Arthur Loe, 20.

"...Or drink or you'll wreck your brain," added fellow-thespian Natasha LePage, 11.

The performance was intended not only to give the youth an outlet to express themselves, but also to provide them with the tools to handle peer pressure, House said. He also brought traditional Cree dancers Travis Dugas and Dallas Arcand with him. In addition to teaching the youth some dance steps, they spoke of the importance of aboriginal culture.

A feast, drum dance and public performance were held Saturday evening. Spectator Alma Jumbo said she was impressed.

"The kids really enjoyed it. They learned something different, a different culture," she said. "I see a lot of happy kids."

The visit was not only awe-inspiring for the youth of the community. While in Fort Liard, House and his associates were thrilled to see a bison up close, right in Jeff Myke's front yard.

"I'm like, 'My God! Wow, it's a buffalo!'" House said with excitement evident in his voice.