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Coming Full Circle

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      WINTER 2003      v33 n01 p11  
Jason in action
[Picture from Previous Page, pg.10]
Jason Bear

When he was a small child growing up on the reserve, Jason Bear remembers being overweight. There was a lot of spare time with nothing much to do, he recalls, so he took karate lessons.

"I began karate when I was 14 years old," Bear says, "basically out of boredom and having nothing to do."

He also enjoyed watching hockey and other activities on the reserve, and says, " I think with any athlete, whatever passion they devote (themselves) to, they still have to do it."

Jason moved to the big city of Prince Albert to live with his grandparents. His grandfather the late Senator Walter Bear, who was with the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations in 1987 - was his biggest role model.

"I got a lot of discipline from my grandfather because he was in the military for quite a number of years," Bear says. The late senator was an independent person with strong attachments to his community, and Jason says, "I think that is what rubbed off on me."

Jason lives in Prince Albert with his family and still keeps in touch with friends and family on the reserve. He maintains his cultural ties with his First Nation by sitting on the justice committee, saying, "This is how I can contribute back to my community for what they have given me."

As a youth, Jason was lost, like many teens his age with nothing to do with their lives ... until he tried karate.This set him on a new path in his life. "I found karate and stuck with it, while my family supported me."

Martial arts was keeping him pre-occupied, but he had to sacrifice a lot of time and dedication to this new sport - which he was starting to appreciate more and more each day. When he made the Provincial team he was very happy because it enabled him to travel to different events all over North America.

"I did not have too much money to travel around the country, but after making the provincial team I could travel."

All the hard training has paid off for this young man. With a modest look in his eyes, he says, "I am ranked number one in Kota (sparing and forms) on the Provincial team."

He is currently on the Canadian national team and has competed six times.The best he has done so far was to place second in the nationals. He keeps pushing himself. This past August, he did really well at a big tournament in Denver, Colorado. He also remembers going down to Philadelphia, which held an international tournament. He has been coast to coast in Canada from Newfoundland to Victoria, British Columbia. The next competition is the western Canadian championships, which will be held in May.

"I went to all those places, all because of karate and my training in the martial arts," Bear says.

Mr. Jason Bradford Bear has opened his own school in Prince Albert. He does not have many clients right now, but he hopes to get some young people interested in karate. "There are so many First Nation youth out there that have nothing to do," Bear states. "I've been there, done that." And now he has the facility to help them.