Some of the First Nations participants, spanning from across the province and beyond, were children as young as two years old, taking part in their first gathering, while others were elders, guiding the gathering, holding it close to their heart.
Master of Ceremonies, Stan Isadore from the Cree Tribe says each song and dance, many of which are extremely old, carry different significance. For example, the men’s traditional or women’s jingle can tell the story of protecting their loved ones, proving food, hunting the enemy or lifting spirits.
“These dances have a lot of stories behind them, a lot of powerful messages behind them,” Isadore said.
Isadore also says each element of the ceremony is in some way connected to each other.
“The best way to look at it is like a brother and a sister… they come from the same blood line,” explains Isadore. “You can compare that to the song and the dance… it’s like a family, everything is connected. Without the drum, without the song, you can’t have the dancers. If you didn’t have the dancers, than the singers and the drummers, they would just be singing for nothing.”
The purpose says Isadore, is to share their history with younger generations and maintain strong cultural beliefs.
“The decisions they (children and teenagers) make today will determine where we end up in the future, that’s just the bottom line,” says Isadore. “If we don’t teach them to stay in school but at the same time, learn their language and understand their culture, they’re going to be lost and in turn our future will be lost.”
Isadore also has a message to anyone attending a powwow, whether you’re from a Fist Nations tribe or just an outsider looking in.
“The primary message is to be good to each other, treat each other fairly,” Isadore goes on to say. “Forget about the judgments, forget about the animosity and forget about the grudges, keep that out of the circle… No matter what goes wrong in our lives, it can always be fixed, as long as we have our dances.”