A Regina grandmother is giving credit to the North Central Community Association for offering a different kind of class — a self-defence class aimed at children between the ages of eight and 12.
Irene Mosquito says about a month ago, her 12-year-old granddaughter, Jada, was nearly abducted while she was on her way to the corner store near Irene's home in North Central.
'Let's do this for them, for their safety.' - Irene Mosquito
During Jada's walk, two unknown men in a vehicle stopped and attempted to grab her.
"I was really, really, really scared ... they stopped right beside me and said 'hey,' but when the driver came out of the car, I was ready to run," Jada recounted.
It was when one of the men put his hand on Jada's shoulder that her fight-or-flight response kicked in.
"They grabbed me on my shoulder, so I yanked my shoulder and ran," she continued.
Once she was back home safe, Jada told her grandmother what happened. Irene contacted authorities and immediately tried to find the vehicle.
The program came at the right time
Irene teaches Cree at the Mâmawêyatitân Centre, where the Cree language and self-defence programs are offered.
When Irene heard about the self-defence class being offered to children, it seemed to come at the right time for the family. She didn't hesitate to enroll Jada and the rest of her grandchildren.
The family has lived in the neighbourhood for years, never having any real safety issues during that time — but Irene said she felt it was time to do something.
"That was a scare for us," Irene said.
"The dangers of little ones being out here, and you hear about it more and more, and it finally came home to us, to my home. So now, it's like 'OK let's do this for them, for their safety.'"
The self-defence program is offered through the North Central Community Association by a Regina-based organization named Power Our Women. The group teaches women and girls self-defence and physical health. Power Our Women is run by martial arts champion Shana Pasapa, a CBC Future 40 winner.
"It's a really good idea to start them young, and just get them thinking about bully management and self-defence," said Laurin Hulhoyi, the instructor of the children's class at North Central.
She said youth are going to encounter incidents throughout their school careers and it's important to get them talking about it. Hulhoyi also wants children to know how to identify a bad situation and have the skills to be able to get away.
Most of the techniques she teaches involve martial art-based movements, as well as simple self-defence techniques like wrist grabs, chokes and jiu-jitsu-based drills.
'We try to keep it really fun'
"We want to make sure it's really high energy, and they are having a lot of fun," Hulhoyi said.
'I feel kind of powerful and strong.' - Jada Mosquito, after self-defence lessons
Jada said that she knows more about self-defence than she did prior to the near-abduction.
"Before I took this self defence class, I thought I knew how to escape a [kidnapping] but then, once she told me all the other things they could do and I couldn't escape those things — I knew that I didn't know anything."
It's knowledge that has helped Jada gain the confidence she needs to take a walk in her neighbourhood again.
"I'm not scared anymore to, like, walk home," Jada said.
"I feel kind of powerful and strong."
The free program is being offered Thursday evenings until Dec. 28 at the Mâmawêyatitân Centre at 3365 Sixth Ave., and includes healthy snacks.