Be reciprocal to be part of something bigger than yourself

August 31, 2023

Empowering Indigenous Communities: The Journey of Alana Cook and Walking Like Warriors

When Alana Cook, a Métis living in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, taught a self-defence workshop to a group of young Indigenous girls in 2017, she ignited a journey that culminated in the establishment of Walking Like Warriors. What began as a spark evolved into a mission to bridge the gap in the self-defence industry.

“Walking Like Warriors is an inclusive, empowering, and culturally safe self-defence workshop specifically intended for youth, women, and 2Spirit people from Indigenous communities,” Cook explains. The initiative’s broad spectrum of training ranges from martial arts demonstrations to practical self-defence tools, catering to people of all ages and abilities.

At the heart of Alana’s efforts is an intimate connection with her community and a desire to reciprocate the support she’s received. “Being a part of an Indigenous community is an incredible gift,” she muses, emphasizing the importance of being “respectful, reciprocal, and part of something bigger than yourself.” Through her workshops, Cook wishes to inspire the next generation to “uphold our beautiful, strong, resilient Indigenous communities.”

The alarming statistics surrounding violence against Indigenous women and girls in Canada serve as a persistent reminder of the urgency of Cook’s mission. “Indigenous women and girls are three times more likely to experience violence, and six times more likely to be murdered,” she notes. The challenge of limited resources sometimes weighs on her, but she remains resolute, believing that “small actions still create large ripples.”

Alana’s ambition for Walking Like Warriors to outgrow its status as a ‘passion project’ led her to the Pow Wow Pitch. The competition offered her not just business experience but also invaluable mentorship. Her mentors, Jayden Halls and Selina, Pirmohamed from RBC were crucial in honing her narrative and infusing her pitch with authenticity. “They guided me every step of the way, and were incredibly supportive of my story,” she gratefully remarks.

Central to Alana’s teaching approach is the integration of traditional practices. “An individual’s health and wellness must maintain the balance between the emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual realms,” she says, drawing parallels between the philosophies of Indigenous communities and martial artists.

Beyond the workshops, Alana’s aspirations extend into her personal journey as a professional Mixed Martial Arts fighter. “I want to be the first Métis woman to fight for a major worldwide organization,” she declares. For Alana, each fight symbolizes a battle not just for herself but for every woman in her community.

Cook’s parting wisdom for budding entrepreneurs resonates with the fierce spirit she embodies: “A closed mouth don’t get fed. You have to speak up for yourself, and never be afraid to advocate for what you need!” It’s a testament to her resilience, urging others to recognize their inner strength. “However strong you think you are, you are stronger.”

Alana Cook’s journey with Walking Like Warriors showcases a powerful fusion of community, purpose, and resilience. As she continues to empower Indigenous communities, her story serves as a beacon for aspiring entrepreneurs everywhere.

Register to watch Alana pitch at the Health and Wellness Semi-Final Online Watch Party on September 8, 2023, at 6 PM ET and vote for Walking Like Warriors to win the 2023 People’s Choice Prize (#115) before September 17, 2023.