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World-class hoop dancer has regalia stolen in Calgary just days before international competition

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WATCH ABOVE: An accomplished Indigenous hoop dancer is pleading with the public to help him find his prized one-of-a-kind regalia. As Jill Croteau reports, it was stolen from his vehicle in the Chinook Centre parking lot. – Feb 7, 2020

Alex Wells is a world-class hoop dancer. It’s taken him nearly his entire life to refine a special form of storytelling through dance.

The regalia he wears during the performances is sacred and sentimental.

“It’s something I hold dearly because it’s my way of life,” Wells said. “We travel across North America using these outfits and a lot of memories go with it.”

Alex Wells.
Alex Wells. Courtesy: Alex Wells

Wells was on his way to Phoenix, Ariz., for an international competition. He lives in Mount Currie, B.C., and was stopping over in Calgary to visit friends before heading to the event. He was at Chinook Centre on Sunday evening when his parked pickup truck was broken into.

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Alex\’s pickup truck.
Alex\’s pickup truck. Courtesy: Alex Wells

“[It was a] bit of a shocker, and I was in disbelief,” Wells said.

“I noticed the window was smashed, and when we realized everything’s been taken I was pretty shaken up.”

The intricate beadwork on the ceremonial outfits was done by Wells himself and over the years, pieces have been added to it.

“Some of the materials we pick up on our travels. Some are from Phoenix and Taiwan and different places we’ve been to,” Wells said. “There’s a lot of history made into these outfits, and the designs have significant meaning.”

Alex Wells performing hoop dance.
Alex Wells performing hoop dance. Courtesy: Alex Wells

His daughter’s regalia was also stolen. Wells’ family in Calgary is helping in the desperate search to track it down.

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His niece, Kaylee Jameson-Toews, said she has been calling pawn shops and watching social media.

“I was in disbelief to believe someone would steal something so special and valuable,” Jameson-Toews said. “I don’t think people understand how much time and effort goes into making this beautiful native attire.”

But it won’t stop Wells from competing at the hoop dancing world championships in Phoenix this weekend.

“A friend of mine is a well-known sewer and gave me extra stuff, and he’s one of my competitors,” Wells laughed.

He is optimistic someone will find it and he’ll have his cherished one-of-a-kind garment back in his possession for the next time he’s on the world stage.