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All My Relations Circle

What is a Pow Wow and why you should attend one

Pow wow dancer talking with a curious child.
A Pow Wow offers a wonderful opportunity to learn about Indigenous cultures. Photo courtesy of Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada
By on June 1, 2022

As we begin the month of June the All My Relations Circle is gearing up to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples’ Day on Tuesday, June 21.  This is an official day of celebration to recognize and honour the heritage, cultures and valuable contributions to society by First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Many Anglican parishes recognize this special day on either Sunday preceding or following Tuesday, June 21.  Do consult the All My Relations webpage – https://www.ottawa.anglican.ca/amr – for ideas on what activities, speakers, videos, etc. you might use in organizing your service.

One activity that would further our knowledge and understanding of Indigenous cultures and traditions is the Pow Wow.  Anglican parishioners and churches might wish to consider attending one in the Ottawa-Gatineau area this summer. Pow Wows welcome non-Indigenous (settlers), Métis and Inuit peoples alike. 

A Pow Wow is a time of celebration, healing and spiritual growth.  It is a gathering where people come together to dance, sing, seek healing, meet old friends and make new ones. The Pow Wow is a time to reaffirm the joy of life and reconnect with Mother Earth.  

There are two kinds of Pow Wows: Competition and Traditional. A competition Pow Wow is set up to attract the best drummers and dancers from all over by offering money through singing and dancing contests.

There is much to experience and enjoy at a Pow Wow – dances, songs, drumming and visiting the many vendors selling jewelry, crafts, art, clothing, beadwork, dreamcatchers, etc.  Another major attraction is the variety of First Nations foods offered at these events.

Pow Wow Etiquette

Visitors are welcome at Pow Wows, but there are some things to consider when you attend one.

Respect the Opening Prayer

The Grand Entry and the Opening Prayer signal the beginning of the Pow Wow.  The Opening Prayer is always performed by an Elder, and the drum takes centre stage as the most important part.

Ask before taking photos

There are some times during the Pow Wow that shouldn’t be photographed, such as ceremonies and prayers.  Ask permission before snapping.

Pay attention to announcers

The Master of Ceremonies will be talking throughout the event, so make sure to listen for when to sit, when to stand, and when to join in the dance!

Do not bring drugs or alcohol

A Pow Wow is a cultural event, not a party.  Alcohol, drugs and firearms are never allowed on the premises.  Drugs and alcohol are not part of the culture.

Know the differences between Pow Wows

Some Pow Wows are traditional ceremonies, while others are performed as a competition.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions

A Pow Wow is a spiritual experience for those performing, but you may not fully understand what’s going on if you’re new to these events.  If you have any questions, just ask!

Don’t forget your tobacco

Offering traditional tobacco in a tobacco tie, if possible, to an Elder or dancer before a question is a sign of tremendous respect.

Do browse the local vendors

When you’re buying from the artisans, you’re supporting Indigenous families and their communities.

It’s regalia, not a costume

A dancer’s regalia is how they dress their spirit.  It’s a special piece of handmade clothing that holds spiritual significance to the dancer, and is adorned with beading that has taken many hours (or even years) to assemble.  Be respectful and always ask before taking photos.

Recognize different traditions

Traditions change from nation to nation.  Sometimes a local nation holds a cultural expo of their specific traditions – such as a sacred fire- or different dances that are specific to that region, like a smoke dance, switch dance or clown dance.  Enjoy the diversity!

Source:  https://canadianpowwows.ca/dos-and-donts/

NEARBY OPPORTUNITIES

Here in Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec the All My Relations Circle was able to confirm the following Pow Wows on Algonquin First Nations territory taking place in 2022.  Given the uncertainties with Covid, do check before you go:

KITIGAN ZIBI

 June 4-5, 2022   

Grand Entry at 12 noon on Saturday and Sunday

Located just south of Maniwaki off Hwy 105.  

Sylvia Morin – Cultural Centre

819-441-1655

[email protected]

OTTAWA SUMMER SOLSTICE INDIGENOUS FESTIVAL 

 June 21-26. 2022 

At Vincent Massey Park, Ottawa

1-833-864-7839

PIKWAKANAGAN 

First Nation  – Golden Lake  

At the time of Crosstalk publication it was not known if the annual Pow Wow would be held this year.  If it is held, the dates for this event are August 20-21, 2022.  

Contact: Kevin Lamarr, 

Cultural Coordinator 

 613-625-2800.  

[email protected]

 

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