Sask. teen hopes to encourage vaccination with healing dance

A 13-year-old jingle dress pow wow dancer from Sweet Grass First Nation near North Battleford is hoping to encourage other youth in her community to get vaccinated.

Lyrik Albert is a champion dancer, having travelled across North America.

She hopes she can add to the voices calling for more people to get vaccinated against COVID-19, so she released a video in conjunction with the Battle River Treaty 6 Health Centre.

“I hope everyone who sees the video gets encouraged and they need to know that getting vaccinated is really important for everyone,” Albert told CTV News.

She’s been dancing all her life. A love for her culture combined with the desire get back to performing in her jingle dress pushed her to want to make a difference and inspire those who are vaccine hesitant to get the shot.

“You’re protecting yourself and protecting others and I hope this helps us get back to our old ways and end this pandemic. I want to show my culture and show what I love doing so that we can get back to doing what we love, and I absolutely love dancing,” she said.

Albert wants to help change the low vaccine rates on her First Nation for youth and adults where she’s hearing a lot of hesitancy firsthand to getting immunized.

Her mom, Sherri Poitras, said Lyrik’s given Cree name is Thunderbird Woman and the strength of the name is as significant as the purpose of jingle dress dancing.

“The jingle dance is known as the healing dance,” Poitras said.

The fact that Lyrik uses this particular dance to help spread the word about vaccinations is an important choice according to her mom.

“It makes me very proud. I do what I can to instill our values to my two kids. We live our ceremonial life and we try to raise our children in a traditional way so I try to keep her in touch with those values.”