Pride of our First Nation 0
PIKWAKANAGAN – Hundreds gathered at Pikwakanagan on the weekend to celebrate the traditional Algonquin culture at the 25th annual powwow.
The Algonquin First Nation’s Traditional Powwow has come a long way in the past quarter century. The MC, Fred McGregor of Maniwaki, told those assembled for Saturday’s grand entry that he remembered the first powwow which had one drummer, a few dancers and a small circle of spectators.
He believes the way the event has grown is a sign of confidence of the community of Pikwakanagan.
“Today we have a good circle of dancers, drummers and audience members,” he said. “There is a good feeling here.”
Taking part in the grand entry, a sacred ceremony where pictures are prohibited, were the community elders, leaders and veterans.
They carried various staffs containing eagle feathers and flags that were added to the posts of the arbour covering the drum circles. Dancers in their regalia also fell in behind the leaders. They included men’s and women’s traditional dancers, grass dancers, jingle dress dancers, fancy shawl dancers and tiny tots also in their traditional regalia. During the two days, about 400 dancers took part in the powwow, which is not a competition but a celebration of the Algonquin culture, heritage and traditions.
Because the event was marking a special anniversary in 2012, Pikwakanagan Chief Kirby Whiteduck wanted to come up with an appropriate theme for the powwow. As he welcomed everyone to the event, he explained the theme for this year was ‘Honouring the Algonquin Spirit,’ by respecting the past, honouring the present and preserving the future.
“We need to respect the past and work to revive our culture,” he said. “We need to respect the animals and Mother Earth and the spirit of the Algonquin nation.”
Over the years, he has witnessed the powwow grow with more vendors taking part because they enjoy the atmosphere.
As the major event in the community it creates a sense of pride in the First Nations culture. Chief Whiteduck has seen an increased interest in the culture, with different drum groups taking part in the powwow including female and youth drum groups as well as more interest in the language and reviving the culture.
He is happy to see so many young people taking part in the cultural event. In the weeks leading up to the powwow, the excitement grew with parents and grandparents putting the finishing touches on the regalia and dancers preparing for their role.
During the grand entry ceremony veterans, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, were honoured with a veteran’s song where the dancers formed a large circle and joined hands while the leaders walked around the circle. It was followed by the welcome song where dancers invited visitors to take part in the dance with them. The rule was visitors could not decline the invitation.
Aside from the traditional drumming and dancing, visitors could also check out a number of vendors offering crafts and clothing as well as traditional and non-traditional foods.
While crowds were down slightly on Sunday due to the rain, the event is still being considered a success.
Tina Peplinskie is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist