Growing up in Manitoba, Scott Ward’s father was the funniest person he knew.
A traditional native powwow dancer and First Nations storyteller, Ward’s father had a knack for making everyone laugh and was a positive role model in his young son’s life.
In time, his sense of humour rubbed off on Ward, paving the way for a unique career as a certified comedy hypnotherapist working with native youth across Canada and the United States.
With more than 300 performances under his belt, Ward has never looked back and was recently named as a 2015 Native American “40 under 40” award recipient by the National Centre for American Indian Enterprise Development.
“Your mind is so powerful,” said Ward. “It’s kind of like Spiderman — with great power comes great responsibility.”
Based in Esquimalt, Ward wound up on the Island six years ago after moving his family from Edmonton. Once he completed his Bachelor of Education at the University of Alberta, Ward worked as a drama teacher, then with at-risk youth, teaching culture.
While working in Red Deer, an opportunity arose to take a hypnosis course. From that, Ward decided to create his own show, focusing on youth and empowerment. He had so much fun hypnotizing his students that in 2004, Ward decided to take his show on the road, facilitating workshops on youth empowerment, cyberbullying, suicide prevention, drugs and alcohol.
He now considers himself a full-time travel teacher; his classrooms are all across North America.
“I can reach a thousand kids at a conference,” said Ward, who’s also taken his workshops overseas to Barbados, Guyana, Malaysia and Vietnam. “As a teacher, you’re more one-on-one in a smaller setting, but as a performer I find kids really listen to performances more than they do their teachers.”
Ward describes his shows as 90-minute non-stop, laughter and empowerment. Being on stage feels so natural that sometime Ward forgets to get paid.
But the 40-year-old admits he was leery about hypnosis at first and if it was even real. Then he did his first show and realized the affect he could have on people he’s never met before.
“All of a sudden they’re in a trance state and you can see the rapid eye movement going on and some people go very deep,” said Ward. “That’s when I was convinced…People put up so many barriers and walls. It’s nice to have some of those walls come down in a safe atmosphere.”
Ward hopes to continue what he’s doing for as long as possible and some day hypnotize at the Apollo Theatre in Brooklyn.
In the meantime, he feels honoured to be the only Canadian recognized for the 2015 Native American 40 under 40 awards, which are given to people who have demonstrated leadership, initiative and dedication, and made significant contributions in business and their community.