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The annual event is a celebration of First Nations culture and community, through dance and  ceremony, and is hosted by the Thundering Spirit Singers. The weekend is open to the public, and is strictly alcohol and drug free. There will also be free food available to those who need it. As organizer Connie Greyeyes says, “We take care of everybody, it doesn’t matter what colour your skin is or what race you are. Everybody is taken care of down there.”

The weekend will feature traditional dancers of all ages, including a princess pageant and an initiation ceremony for new dancers.

The Powwow was started seven years to honour a white buffalo that was born north of Fort St. John in 2005. Native legend holds that the white buffalo is a symbol of peace and unity, as well as hope and rebirth. A local dance group organized the first powwow, and it has been growing ever since.

Greyeyes says at the time there was nothing like this in the area, and there was a need for children in the community to have a celebration of their culture.

“It’s so that our kids know that they have something to be proud of; our culture is not what the perception of Aboriginal people is.”

Ongoing problems with drugs, alcohol and gambling can cause the non-Aboriginal community to stereotype the culture in a negative light.

“I think that’s a lot of the reason why our people struggle so much because their perception of who they are is so jaded from society,” she says. “I tell kids all the time, you don’t have to let other people define who you are. You don’t have to live up to other people’s expectations.

The event isn’t just for the benefit of youth – Greyeyes tells the story of one elder who attended, who was brought to tears hearing the music he hadn’t heard since his childhood.

The theme of this year’s Powwow is Empowering the Spirit of our Women, and there will be special ceremony honouring women on Saturday. Fathers will also be honoured with special raffle tickets, as it is Father’s Day weekend. In addition, there will be a hand drum contest, prizes, and several vendors selling native arts and crafts and cuisine.

The whole event is free to the public, and there will be a free shuttle leaving from the Co-op Mall, courtesy of School District 60. The shuttle will leave Fort St. John at 6:15 p.m. on Friday, 12:15 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Saturday and 12:15 p.m. on Sunday. It will return from Taylor at 9:00 p.m. on Friday, 5:00 and 9:00 p.m. on Saturday and 8:30 p.m. on Sunday.

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