USask student Laryn Oakes, who was also the head dancer at the 2018 USask Graduation Powwow, alongside T.J. Warren. (Photo: Lorne Duquette)
USask student Laryn Oakes, who was also the head dancer at the 2018 USask Graduation Powwow, alongside T.J. Warren. (Photo: Lorne Duquette)

USask unites: Indigenous student dancers share videos made in self-isolation to help others get through the pandemic

Since the first cases of COVID-19 were announced in the province, members of the USask community have come together to support one another in these uncertain times.

Extraordinary circumstances have brought out extraordinary responses from members of our USask community. From frontline health-care workers to researchers looking for a solution to this global health threat, there are so many stories about people are working to make our home communities safer and healthy. Here are a few of the inspiring stories of our students, staff, faculty and alumni.

Keep the people dancing.

That’s the message that USask education students Laryn Oakes and Monica Bear are helping to share.

Along with Indigenous people from across North America who are sharing videos made in self-isolation to help people get through the pandemic, Oakes and Bear are among the members of the USask community who are performing and recording video for the Quarantine Dance Specials 2020 Facebook group.

Interviewed for a recent profile in the Toronto Star, Oakes shared her experiences with performing in the middle of Saskatoon’s Traffic Bridge in the dark of night.

“We literally waited until about 1 am,” Oakes said in the article, explaining she and her friend had hoped by that time there would be no vehicle traffic downtown.

“I was just happy to be in my outfit again,” said Oakes, who was also the head dancer at the 2018 USask Graduation Powwow, alongside T.J. Warren.

“The U of S is a pretty special place for me and has given me many amazing opportunities,” said Oakes, who will be graduating once her finals are finished for the year. “I also hope to pursue more of my education there in the future.”

The granddaughter of Gordon Oakes Red Bear, Oakes said the COVID-19 pandemic has caused her a lot of anxiety, but being able to dress in her regalia and dance has been therapeutic.

Oakes said powwows are a way to gather with friends and family, honour ancestors and celebrate life. Even though her performance was just her and her friend recording the video, it was still uplifting.

Read more at the Toronto Star.

Monica Bear shared a video of herself doing a jingle dress dance alone by Saskatoon’s Kinsmen Park. In a recent interview with the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, she said she feels beautiful and her heart is “happy and calm” when she puts on her regalia and dances. A jingle dress dance is a healing dance, she noted.

While the group hosts regular competitions, many people use the group as a platform to show others they are still dancing in spite of tough times.

“All this stuff going on right now is giving me anxiety and it’s scary,” Bear told the StarPhoenix. “I danced for everyone, not just for myself. I have four children, danced for them. My mother that is sick in the hospital, I danced to heal.”

Read more at the Saskatoon StarPhoenix.

Share your stories with us: We are collecting the stories of resilience and good spirit from our USask community. Please send story ideas and photos to

As a community it is critical that we support each other and remain respectful during what is a difficult time for all of us. Please follow all guidelines and take all precautions to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 in our community.

How you can help our students during the COVID-19 pandemic:

For the latest developments and information about the University of Saskatchewan's response to COVID-19, please go to

The University of Saskatchewan is undertaking critical research and contributing to global efforts to combat COVID-19. The University of Saskatchewan's Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO-InterVac) is a world leader in developing vaccines and technologies to combat infectious diseases. Your support of the COVID-19 Research Fund supports the increased efforts of researchers at the University of Saskatchewan to develop vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. Donate now.

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