Manito Ahbee dancer from Saskatchewan has regalia stolen in Winnipeg

A powwow dancer from Saskatchewan who is competing at this year’s Manito Ahbee Festival is devastated her regalia was stolen from a truck in Winnipeg and she’s pleading to the person who stole it to return it, with no questions asked.

“I was shocked and I didn’t want to believe it,” said Jesse Kaiswatum, 18, a powwow dancer from Piapot First Nation, about 50 kilometres north of Regina, who has been dancing all her life.

She says her regalia was stolen Thursday morning from her mother’s truck.

“To make travelling easier we sent it up [to Winnipeg] early with my mom who’s on a business trip up there, and it was left in the truck outside her hotel, and someone broke into it,” Kaiswatum said.

Kaiswatum was supposed to wear the regalia this weekend during a powwow at the Manito Ahbee festival at the RBC Convention Centre. The event celebrates Indigenous culture, music and art.

However, her regalia is now gone, along with the rest of her belongings in a suitcase that includes dresses, feathers and beads.

“It’s just hard,” she said.

Nevertheless, Kaiswatum says she still plans to come to Winnipeg and dance at the festival in borrowed regalia.

“It’s a visual representation of who I am”

“I’ve been gifted with an outfit from a regional chief and I’m very honoured,” Kaiswatum said.

However, she says she’s still heartbroken that she lost her regalia, which had special meaning to her.

“It like means a lot to me,” she said. “It’s what me and my mom worked on … we put the design together, the colours, and it took years to put it together.

“It’s a visual representation of who I am and where I come from, and who I am spiritually.”

Kaiswatum says her mother told her a police report has been filed in Winnipeg.

The teen is pleading with the person who stole it to return it, adding she doesn’t want any charges laid.

“I hope they have the heart to speak up and bring it back,” she said.

She’s also asking anyone who finds it to call police.

“They might be embarrassed because people might think they took it, but I hope they don’t feel that way,” she said.

“It’s not anybody’s fault. If you find it, please bring it back.”

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