On July 6th, 2018, the airport in Minot, North Dakota, was full of excitement. As Meg Stone, executive director of IMPACT Boston, and her colleague Ben Comeau, a suited instructor, came down the escalator to greet the team from Turtle Mountain Empowerment Self-Defense, there was happy shouting, energetic waving, and kisses being blown:
We often talk about “the power of one” and how one woman has the power to positively impact one community that will then have the power to impact the world.
The success of Turtle Mountain Empowerment Self-Defense can be traced back to the power of one woman, Shanda Poitra, who signed up for her first empowerment self-defense class because she needed a gym credit.
But, as the story goes, Poitra ended up with more than a gym credit. She found strength. She found her voice. She left her abusive boyfriend of eleven years, returned to the reservation where she grew up, and began to build a new and better life for herself and her children.
Her journey into empowerment self-defense didn’t stop there. It wasn’t enough for her to be the only woman in her community with self-defense skills. Ten years later, Poitra attended ESD Global’s Instructor Bootcamp with friends and now colleagues Sara Rae Davis, and Jessica DeCoteau.
These three women have decided to combine their individual power and create some serious yet positive and needed change in their community.
According to the Turtle Mountain team:
"We have young women leaving their nests to go off to college, we have women being harassed in their own community, we have women of all ages who are afraid to be alone in their homes because of people breaking in. We have a high rate of domestic, sexual, and mental abuse. Our Native women are going missing and being murdered at a rate more than ten times the national average! We need to do something about this."
They certainly are taking action, and thanks to IMPACT Boston, they aren't working alone. Since meeting at camp last year, Meg Stone has become a trusted friend and mentor.
In March, the women from Turtle Mountain visited Boston for a special 20 hour IMPACT training. Not long after, they began teaching.
Now, they’ve set their sights even higher and have decided to start their very own