Jigging for the heart, from the heart

The Tree of Peace Friendship Centre provides a free after school jigging program for youth. (Mariah Caruso/CKLB Radio)

An after-school dance program is giving Yellowknife youth something to get jiggy about.

“It’s not that hard,” says Pontiac Mace, an 11-year-old jigging novice.

She admits “it’s really fast, and there’s a lot of jumping”

Since January, kids have been dancing their little hearts out learning the traditional Métis jig.

The Métis jig is a combination of First Nations dancing with Scottish and French-Canadian step dancing.

Through the Jigging Revitalization program, youth will have the opportunity to excersise with culture in mind.

“It’s just a really fun, engaging way to learn about culture,” says Brad Lafortune, the dance instructor for the program.

“This is my responsibility to my Métis culture,” he says, “to engage youth of different ages.”

Lafortune says he’s proud to share his culture this way.

Christina Moore is the program coordinator for the Tree of Peace Friendship Centre (TPFC) and through this program, she has helped bridge active living with tradition.

More than a dozen kids and some parents were shuffling, kicking and hopping to the beat of a fiddle for over an hour at the Northern United Plac every Tuesday since January.

Orange Blossom Special is a favourite high-tempo jigging song.

Moore joined the kids on their jigging lesson as Lafortune prepared virtually.

“It’s a really cool opportunity for relationship building and possibly even reconciliation,” says Moore.”The big goal would be for people in the community to be healthier and feel more connected to each other.”

Moore also wants to remove any barriers that may get in the way of children accessing this service snacks and taxi vouchers are provided for those in need.

This program is supported by the NWT’s healthy choices fund and is set to run again next year.

Although the program is geared toward youth, all are welcome. The last class this year will take place on Mar. 23 at 4 p.m.

Due to COVID restrictions, the program allows for a maximum of 25 people total in the space.

About the Author

Mariah Caruso
Mariah Caruso is a digital journalist, originally from Toronto, Canada. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a Hons. Bachelor of Arts and completed her Journalism post-grad at Sheridan College. She has an insatiable appetite for life, storytelling, connecting to the people, and getting to the heart of the issue. Mariah is excited to begin her journey and career in Yellowknife, NWT, and get involved with the community. If you have a story idea, feel free to send her an email at mariah.caruso@cklbradio.com