TEENS FROM FLY-IN FIRST NATIONS TRANSFORMED BY DANCING THEIR WAY ONTO TORONTO STAGE

'Everyone's hugging and crying, because they can't believe they've done this'

Solomon Harper, centre, from St. Theresa Point First Nation in northern Manitoba, rehearses for Outside Looking In, a dance program that's changed his perception of the world, his commitment to school, and his dreams for the future. (Jackson Weaver/CBC)

Grade 10 student Solomon Harper is slick with sweat, sprinkled in dust and roughly 1,500 kilometres from home. He’s surrounded by farm animals, the loud and anxious voices of more than 100 teens both older and younger than he is — and he couldn’t be happier.

“The performance today is really exciting, but … first-year [attendees are] usually nervous,” Harper, 16, said during a break from what seem like unending rehearsals.

“This is where they feel accomplished. This is where we take pride in ourselves.”

Harper is a dancer with Outside Looking In (OLI), a non-profit dance program for Indigenous youth across Canada. He’s from St. Theresa First Nation, which is about 600 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg, and it’s his fourth year participating in the program.

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