My First Powwow

Throughout my treaty walk, I have found so much value in looking around to find posters. I noticed a poster while walking through the university for the First Nations University of Canada Powwow.  I have never been to a powwow, so thought it would something that would further my treaty walk. I had no plans on Sunday, but found it so hard to find the motivation to go. It isn’t because I was scared or nervous, it was just because I kept making other excuses. Eventually at 5, I had to just tell myself to get up and go. Holy moly I was so grateful that I did.

I walked in, purchased my wrist band, and was immediately happily overwhelmed with the environment I was immersed in. It was amazing. I looked around and there were vendors selling beautiful beaded items and ribbon skirts. There were people walking around who were so happy to be here. There were dancers dressed sooo amazingly. There were children running around and having the best time. There was a sense of community that I have never been a part of before.

I walked around and was so very content in where I was. I found a traditional food booth, grabbed a bannock burger, and found a seat to watch the dancing. There were about 800 dancers, dancing in unison, and dancing to the heartbeat of the creator (drum). I spoke to a man and he explained that this is probably the biggest powwow that he has seen. Some of the dances I experienced were Traditional, Grass, Fancy Shall, Fancy, and Jingle. Each of these were unique and I could not take my eyes off of them.

“Lots of colour, lots of movement.”

The new Miss First Nations University of Canada gave a powerful speech that talked about the significance of the pow wow. She talked about how people come here to find out who they are, and where they come from. It helps her to embrace who she is and her culture. It also helped her to grow together with her family and learn about their culture together. The most powerful portion of her speech was when she spoke about how people tried to take dance away, but it continues to be passed on from generation to generation.

“Everybody just really enjoys being here because it uplifts people.”

Additionally, the 2016-17 Miss First Nations University of Canada followed this and explained that there are two important educations for First Nations peoples. The first is to finish grade 12, and to move on to post secondary education. The second is to learn their language and to learn about their culture from their parents and elders. She stressed how important both of these educations are for First Nations peoples.

While sitting in the stands, I was able to connect with a man that told me a little bit more information about powwows. He told me that the most important part of his dance attire was the beads, and that each year he adds small pieces, as they are very time consuming to create. He has been dancing in this particular one for 6 years, but it gets more and more intricate each year. Another thing I found interesting was the timing of this event. He talked about how it seemed that on Sunday they didn’t rush at all. I was shocked when the grand entry was supposed to start at 7, but rather started at 8:30. This just proves that I am always so focused and limited by time in my life. When first arriving I only intended staying for a short while, however, found myself leaving after 4 hours. I learned so much from this experience, and feel like it has impacted my treaty walk.

– Ms. S


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