A professional Indigenous hoop dancer has been forced to compete with borrowed clothing at the world championships in the United States this weekend after his handmade regalia was stolen from his truck in Calgary.
After visiting a friend's home in a neighbourhood near CF Chinook Centre on Sunday evening, Alex Wells returned to his vehicle to see the windows smashed and both his and his daughter’s handcrafted regalia were gone.
"It’s a big loss, it's a part of our culture," said Wells. "We hold all our items that we use in our traditional ways very high, higher than ourselves sometimes because they are either made from the earth or made from your family."
Wells is currently in Phoenix, Arizona preparing for an upcoming competition and performance on the international stage. He’s a former three-time world champion for hoop dancing.
While he pegs the price of the stolen regalia at between $3,000 and $5,000, he says the items hold more sacred and sentimental value.
Dancers usually handcraft part of their outfit with some help from family members over a decade in some cases.
"You won’t find another outfit that’s exactly the same," said Wells.
He’s asking anyone to look around any pawn shops or online buy-and-sell websites for the stolen items.
Although Calgary police were notified shortly after the incident, Wells says he will complete a police report once he returns to the Calgary area after the competition.
Wells is from the Lil’wat Nation in British Columbia but currently resides at Tsuut’ina First Nation near Calgary. He’s performed traditional and hoop dance all around the world for over more than 25 years.