Levi Highway has a stutter. It got him bullied in school, back in the remote northern community of Pelican Narrows. He didn’t want to speak in front of the classroom. He didn’t talk much to strangers.
When he was 15, things got really bad. Some guys came to his house to threaten him, armed with knives. His mom sent him away to Prince Albert.
He started at St. Mary High School, but his stutter was still “a huge problem.” That’s when he met Marlene Bear, the school’s Aboriginal Student Liaison. She had an idea, a way for a shy kid to come out of his shell.
She got him to dance.
“Take your fears and take them onto the stage,” he remembers her saying.
And it worked.
“Square dancing, it lets me express myself on stage,” he said. “People come up to me and say ‘you’re a great jigger, where are you from?’ and it just helps me speak.”
Now Highway is 21, and he competes against seasoned dancers. He often wins. His dancing earned him first prize in his category at Sunday’s Winter Festival jigging contest. He beat out three other dancers, including a man who’s been competing for decades, and took home $300.
For more on this story, please see the Feb. 21 print or e-edition of the Prince Albert Daily Herald.