June 14th, 2024

Weasel Head shares journey from student athlete to educator


By Dale Woodard on June 25, 2021.

Submitted photo - Charlton Weasel Head, seen second from left along with his family, is sharing the story of his journey from student to athlete to educator.

From his earliest years on the Kainai/Blood Tribe, through his high school athletics years, to Lethbridge College and on to Brandon University, Charlton Weasel Head’s athletic career has taken him full circle.
Now, the associate principal at Kainai High School is passing on the story of his journey to his students and helping them take the next steps in their lives in the process.
As National Indigenous History Month continues this week, Weasel Head spoke of the awareness the event is getting.
“It’s great that the Canadian government and Alberta is recognizing this more and more,” said Weasel Head. “I know in the past we would have National Aboriginal Day, but it wasn’t a big thing. But in the last couple of years the name has changed from National Indigenous Day. With what has been happening, we can go from the land claims to various things that are happening, the residential schools even more now.”
With the announcement of another 751 unmarked graves discovered at the site of a former residential school in Saskatchewan on Thursday in addition to the remains of 215 children buried on the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, Weasel Head said it’s becoming more traumatizing to some of the survivors who have gone through those situations.
“I went to a residential school for two years here on the Blood Reserve,” he said. “At the time it wasn’t like the nuns and priests who were running it when I was there. It was our own community members because it was coming to an end at the time. It was our community members who were the supervisors or the cooks and all of those sorts of things. It was just mainly the church part where the father would be running that piece, but it was our people who would be running it. I was fortunate to not experience some of the major situations that a lot of our people did. But at the same time, I was away from family. My sister was on the other side and my brother was upstairs, but we were all in our own little groups and at the time it was traumatizing not being with parents.”
But what set Weasel Head on his athletic journey was watching his older brother, Lionel, compete when Weasel Head was in elementary school.
“Once we got junior high and high school I became more involved with sports because I saw it every day,” he said. “I saw my brother play football, basketball and baseball and just excel at every sport. Me being there all the time and watching or being a part of the team as an equipment manager just gave me that opportunity and I saw I could be just as good as my older brother knowing if I put that further work into it, I could do the same thing.”
Weasel Head got his start in basketball playing on a Grade 8 team that competed against Grade 9 teams around southern Alberta.
“I was still a pretty decent football player, but I just wanted to make sure I was in condition to play basketball when the season started,” said Weasel Head.
In his Grade 11 year at Kainai High School, the basketball team made it to 2A provincials and lost in the provincial final to Canmore.
In his first year of Grade 12, the team went 4A and lost to Taber in the first game of provincials.
“In my second Grade 12 year we won 3A down here and then we went to Red Deer and ended up losing to Bert Church in the semifinals,” said Weasel Head. “We ended up winning bronze at provincials.”
Weasel Head started receiving post secondary offers upon graduation from high school, ultimately selecting Lethbridge College.
He spent three years playing for the Kodiaks men’s basketball team in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference, helping the Kodiaks to a berth at nations in his final year.
In his three years with the Kodiaks, Weasel Head was First Team All-Conference all three years and in his second year was an All-Canadian.
Wanting to pursue his education degree, Weasel Head headed to Brandon University in 1999, where he suited up with the Bobcats men’s basketball team.
Over the next two years, the Bobcats won the GPAC Conference and advanced to the national finals against St. Francis Xavier both years.
Following two years in Brandon, Weasel Head returned home and enrolled at the University of Lethbridge to complete his Bachelor of Education degree.
He attained his degree in 2003 and returned to Kainai High School.
“I knew how important my counsellors, my principals and my teachers were to me and just being poor and struggling growing up how important they were,” he said. “I knew I could make a difference when I got to Kainai High School and help those students who are very good athletes or good students in general and give them that confidence and passion and be a role model and ambassador, for them to know (I’m) an example of (when) you put some hard work in, good things can happen. That was always my goal. I wanted to be back at the high school and teach there.”
In 2014 Weasel Head got his Masters degrees and for the past six years has been the associate principal at Kainai High School.
He is also the athletic director as well as coaching the senior girls basketball team, leading the teams to provincial berths before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
What’s better, Weasel Head – was inducted into the Lethbridge Sports Hall of Fame in 2008 – has watched those same players graduate and move on to play college basketball just like he did nearly 25 years ago.
“I just try to keep in touch with them and know they have our support and give them that opportunity to know to continue to work hard,” said Weasel Head, who has three children, Bailey, Taylor and Talon and two grandchildren, Chaseton and Kailor. “Do what you have to do, your studies have to come first, and just know there are people supporting you and what choices you make, make sure you’re doing the best you can. These students are going through the situations I was and I know how difficult it was for me that first year.”

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Citi Zen

Finally, a residential school graduate instead of survivor. Good work, congrats!