Introducing a new series featuring stories of everyday people living active lifestyles.
The Lethbridge Sport Council is proud to be launching: Your Quality Life (YQL). In YQL we hope that, with the help of the community, we can highlight positive sporting and active lifestyle experiences throughout the greater Lethbridge area. With YQL Stories, we will draw attention beyond just the competitive aspects of sport, but also the important role it plays in personal development, relationship building, and living an overall quality life.
For our third edition of Your Quality Life we were able to talk to Chad Chief Moon. Chief Moon comes from the Blood reserve outside of Lethbridge and serves on the Lethbridge Sport Council Board of Directors. Chad has been very open and willing to talk about many of the struggles he has faced in life, and the paths he has taken to overcome them. For Chad, his experience with the sport of lacrosse has been more than just a game, but a very deep, spiritual experience that has given him both a path to healing and to connect with his culture.
Prior to lacrosse entering his life, sport was still a big role in Chad’s life: it served as an escape. Chief Moon grew up in the aftermath of the residential school system. When he asked his father about the experiences he had in a residential school his father simply replied “it was ok.”. This response did not sit well with Chad and he asked himself,
“If it was ok, why am I feeling the effects of it: the bullying, the alcoholism, the poverty, the shame, when I never stepped one foot in a residential school?”
As a result of the environment he grew up in, Chad was ashamed of himself, and became part of the self-sustaining cycle of bullying victims turning into bullies themselves. At a young age Chiefmoon found himself an alcoholic, alcohol gave him an outlet to feel good about himself. Chad eventually became aware of the cycle existing within his life and the lives of those before him, and became determined to break it, to prevent his own children and nieces and nephews from having to endure the same things he did.
While lacrosse is a game rooted in Indigenous history, Chad himself did not receive an introduction to the sport until his son, Zane got involved. When Zane was in the first grade, a couple of Calgary Roughneck players came to give a presentation on lacrosse. When the sport was introduced as an Indigenous game, as the lone Indigenous child in the class, Zane took pride in being connected to it. As a supportive parent Chad encouraged his son when he signed up for lacrosse and was blown away by the sport when he took Zane to his first game. Undoubtedly lacrosse had a great impact on Zane’s life, but it had perhaps an even more profound one on Chad’s. Chiefmoon identifies lacrosse as a valuable part of his healing process in recovering from alcoholism, and the still felt rippling effects of the residential school system in Canada. Lacrosse is recognized as the Creator’s game in Indigenous culture and gave Chad a point to reconnect with his culture as he went into recovery.
While there was an undeniable trickle down effect that impacted Chad’s life for the negative, he also has had some members of his family set an exceptional example for him to follow. Both of Chad’s grandmothers were well known for helping within their respective communities. Now that he has gone through his process of self healing Chiefmoon aims to carry on his grandmothers’ legacies by going out into the community and helping others. One of the primary ways to do this is by introducing lacrosse to Southern Alberta Indigenous communities, in the hopes the game can do for others as it did in his own life.
Outside of his own community Chad sees the potential sport has for breaking down barriers and combating racism. Chiefmoon has been instrumental in putting together a lacrosse camp with dates set for August 4th and 5th which will feature professional lacrosse player Jeff Shattler. Chad hopes the camp can help lay a foundation for lacrosse in Southern Alberta for generations to come.
A fantastic movie for those looking to see what a profound impact lacrosse has had on Indigenous youth would be “The Grizzlies”, a movie which Chad saw when he was early on in his current journey to spread the game of lacrosse.
Chad’s experiences with lacrosse demonstrate what a life-altering power sport can have. Overcoming personal adversity and breaking the seemingly inevitable cycle begun by the residential school system, Chad Chiefmoon has become a leader and a trailblazer for the sport of lacrosse in Southern Alberta. His pure love of the game and desire to “pay-it-forward” to the next generation is likely to help many young players find an outlet and a welcoming community to connect with. While lacrosse may date back centuries, the sport is far from done growing, spreading, and changing lives just as it did for Chad.