LETHBRIDGE - A University of Lethbridge student, and a Blood Reserve resident, is working to empower Indigenous youth through fitness, education, sports and leadership.
Dakota Lane Tallow Manson won first in the Alberta Body Building Association last month, which qualified her to compete in the National Championship held in Laval, Quebec this month.
Her family is trying to raise her profile to make sure she can compete in the Women's Fitness category National competition for the Canadian Body Building Federation, under the steroid-free category.
If Tallow Manson is successful, she will earn her spot competing in the International Federation of Body Building and a pro card.
Tallow Manson says a couple of years ago she found herself struggling a lot with depression and anxiety while balancing being a full-time student and a single mom.
“I started gaining a lot of weight, I didn’t fit my clothes anymore and my self-esteem kind of plummeted. Then I realized I needed to change, so one day when I was sitting in class when my instructor was talking about statistics that show First Nations people are at higher risk for obesity, diabetes and depression. It dawned on me that I was becoming one of those statistics and at that point, I decided to start going to the gym to make a positive change in my life,” Tallow Manson said, adding after she started going consistently she developed a passion for it.
Tallow Manson is a young Blackfoot woman, mother, daughter, sister and sports enthusiast. She’s currently studying Accounting and Management at the U of L with a long-term goal of becoming a Human Rights Lawyer.
She recently began documenting her journey on social media and after receiving accolades from other Indigenous people asking her to share her journey to fitness and wellness.
“I was in class and my instructor asked, ‘what are you going to do to change the world for Indigenous people?’ Fitness made a positive impact on my life, so I thought maybe sharing that and eliminating statistics and breaking down the barriers people face when accomplishing their own fitness goals,” Tallow Manson said.
With social media being so consuming now, Tallow Manson figured that would be the best mode to reach the most amount of people in a cost-efficient way.
“Another reason I approached the competitions was just to show people an extreme example point of view about how to manage their time and still accomplish their goals,” she continued. “A lot of people make excuses when it comes to going to the gym like they don’t have time, or they don’t have the money, and I wanted to lead by example.”
Tallow Manson currently has two part-time jobs, is going to school full time and all the while is managing being a single parent and maintaining a competitive GPA to get into law school.
“When people hear all that they kind of go, ‘well if she can do it, I can do it’.”
She has started the "First Nations Fitness" YouTube Channel, Facebook page and Instagram where Tallow Manson shares advice and motivations messages to assist others in meeting their life goals.
She’s also the first to undertake this journey on the Blood Reserve.
Tallow Manson is trying to raise money to make sure she can get to Quebec to compete.
That’s because when she went to provincials, despite being in the best shape of her life, she never expected to win.
“Then I got first place, then I won this qualification to go to Quebec and compete. Obviously, I didn’t save up for that because I didn’t expect to do as well as I had done. I’m asking for support, so I can get there and represent Alberta and the Blood Tribe the best I can,” Tallow Manson stated.
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