Traditional powwow a big hit

The Grand Entry is led by flagbearers. Left-right are Wayne Burnstick with the Big Lakes County flag, Kirby Chalifoux with the Town of High Prairie, Fred Scanie for the Province of Alberta, and Howard Bruneau with the Canadian flag.
The Grand Entry is led by flagbearers. Left-right are Wayne Burnstick with the Big Lakes County flag, Kirby Chalifoux with the Town of High Prairie, Fred Scanie for the Province of Alberta, and Howard Bruneau with the Canadian flag.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Aboriginal culture was celebrated in full colour at the second annual Bridging Our Communities High Prairie Traditional Powwow held May 14.

“We got comments on how well-organized the powwow was,” says Kim Dumont, co-chair of the High Prairie Aboriginal Interagency Committee, which organized the event.

Dancers and drummers of all ages from all over northern Alberta set the beat for the event at High Prairie Sports Palace.

“We had 153 dancers register and four drum groups,” says Wendy Goulet, in charge of events co-ordination.

It was more than last year when 140 dancers registered.

Organizers were delighted that the powwow was staged after the event was in jeopardy in April with the economic downturn.

“We were concerned up to three weeks prior to the powwow that it might not happen with low sponsorships,” says Dumont.
“The committee did a good job and we pulled it through.”

Her words were echoed by the co-chair.

“It’s good to see everyone come together from the whole region and to acknowledge culture in the community,” Cheryl Kachuk says.
“I think we did awesome for our second year. It never ceases to amaze me how it all comes together.”

Organizers are eager to continue the event and grow their audience and participation.

“A lot of people talked told me it was their first time to a powwow and they look forward to coming back next year,” Kachuk says.

A hand games tournament was added to the festivities. Seven teams entered.

“A lot of powwows are having hand games tournaments to show another part of the Aboriginal tradition,” says Dumont.

Fort Chipewyan Bead and Arrow Junior/Senior High School finished first, followed by Prairie River Junior High School and St. Andrew’s Catholic School, both of High Prairie.

Several high school graduating students were also honoured in the tradition of the powwow.

Organizers appreciated the support of local community leaders from the Town of High Prairie and Big Lakes County.
Lesser Slave Lake MLA Danielle Larivee participated as part of the Grand Entry. Also participating were Big Lakes County Reeve Ken Matthews, Town of High Prairie Mayor Linda Cox and Councillor Donna Deynaka.

“One of the highlights was having dignitaries from the town, county and MLA,” Dumont says. “Having these people support us is an honour.”

Several vendors of Aboriginal crafts and culture added to the festivities.

Organizers are grateful to all the volunteers who offered to help in so many ways to make the event more efficient, along with sponsors, dancers and drummers.

 

Young drummers Mihkwa Bellerose, left, Coltan Bellerose, centre, and Miksiw Bellerose of Driftpile beat the drums and sing during the powwow.
Young drummers Mihkwa Bellerose, left, Coltan Bellerose, centre, and Miksiw Bellerose of Driftpile beat the drums and sing during the powwow.
Nancy Chalifoux, of Driftpile, dances in full regalia in Golden Age Ladies.
Nancy Chalifoux, of Driftpile, dances in full regalia in Golden Age Ladies.
Young girls do some jigging at the powwow. Left-right are Licia Lamouche, 6, Aryiannuh Cardinal, 5, and Kierra Lamouche, 8. Note the traditional Metis sash each is wearing.
Young girls do some jigging at the powwow. Left-right are Licia Lamouche, 6, Aryiannuh Cardinal, 5, and Kierra Lamouche, 8. Note the traditional Metis sash each is wearing.
Darrianna Willier, 7, of Sucker Creek, left, and Katana Calliou, 7, of Grande Prairie dance in the Junior Girls category.
Darrianna Willier, 7, of Sucker Creek, left, and Katana Calliou, 7, of Grande Prairie dance in the Junior Girls category.

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