Children’s Author Aims to Inspire First Nations Youth

As a child growing up in southern Alberta, Victor Lethbridge prodded his grandfather to regale him with stories of his Lakota-Sioux past. The inspirational tales not only intrigued the little boy, they also made him proud of his heritage.

Looking back, Lethbridge, 50, said his grandfather left behind an important cultural legacy for First Nations youth. Now he is using the same story-telling approach as he reaches out to First Nations children through a program called Tatanka Workshops, partially funded by Chevron Canada.

Kaybob area of the Duvernay play

Award-winning author Victor Lethbridge performs for children in northern Alberta through a program partially funded by Chevron Canada.

Taking an energetic approach, Lethbridge uses interactive plays, music and storytelling to help students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 build pride and self-esteem.

“I feel if I can keep that history and tradition and pride in the lineage, why not?” Lethbridge explained. “Until you feel good about who you are, you will have internal strife. You’ll be asking ‘Do I have to change to be accepted?’ I’m trying to instill it doesn’t matter who you are . . . you’re just right for who you are. You need to feel good about yourself.”

Lethbridge, a musician, motivational speaker and video producer, has penned three children’s books: Little Chief and Mighty Gopher: The Pemmican Frenzy (which has won numerous literary awards), Little Chief and the Gifts of Morning Star and You’re Just Right.

“I want them to be inspired and to embrace the culture,” Lethbridge said. “I want the kids to learn the language, about their history and culture. These books, I believe, are a good tool for motivation.”

Chevron Support

With the help of Chevron Canada, Lethbridge has been able to deliver his books – and teachings – to more communities than he would have alone.

Chevron’s Stakeholder Engagement Advisor Amy Wood recently set up a Tatanka Workshops tour of eight First Nations communities in northern Alberta, where the company is exploring for natural gas and natural gas liquids in the Duvernay formation near Fox Creek.

“I was fortunate enough to be able to attend two of the workshops,” Wood said. “I couldn’t believe how moving the day was. The energy and passion Victor brings to the workshop and the excitement the children and teachers have about receiving their own copy of his book is extraordinary to witness.”

The workshops were well received by both students and staff, and each child received a copy of You’re Just Right, which was published with help from Chevron Canada.

“Some of these books, they’ll be their first books or their only books,” Lethbridge said.

“It’s nice to have corporations or organizations that show they care. It’s nice to be able to say to kids that there are people who do care about you. Chevron wants to do something to help the community and their help has allowed me to expand my work to a greater number of people.”