Lori Deets, chair of the Wakamow Aboriginal Community Association (WACA) and a long-time activist in Moose Jaw, believes the only path to healing as a community is to recognize that everyone is involved — we are all Treaty people.
“This powwow is for everyone,” Deets explained. “I think that until we truly understand that we all have a part in this, and what that part is, then that’s not reconciliation. Because there’s still many people who think they really, truly have nothing to do with this.”
What is the powwow and what is the schedule?
“It’s a celebration, it’s a gathering, it’s a time of prayer, it’s a time of contemplation,” Deets said. “What do we want for this land? … That’s why it’s an Every Child Matters powwow. The only thing that’s going to get us through the troubled times we’re in is healing and togetherness.”
The powwow is a two-day gathering in Wakamow Valley on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 — the weekend of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
The powwow grounds open at 11 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 30. at Kiwanis River Park. There will be a grand entry at 1 p.m. and a Jingle Dress Special at 5 p.m.
On Saturday, orange shirts from WACA will be on sale at the Wakamow Farmer’s Market from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The New Dance Horizons (NDH) dance company will perform at 10 a.m.
At 11 a.m. on Saturday, the powwow grounds open for the second day. The grand entry is at 1 p.m., followed by a Saturday Afternoon Youth Special. At 5 p.m. there is a Men’s Special, and at 7 p.m. there will be a powwow giveaway.
Another free NDH performance will be held at the Moose Jaw Cultural Centre at 7:30 p.m.
How to participate
“It’s hard to put yourself in uncomfortable situations, right? But everyone is always welcome at any of our events,” Deets said. “This is the perfect time, because it’s completely on your terms, you can come and stay as long as you want.”
Deets said that showing up, asking questions, buying a T-shirt, and enjoying the occasion is the best way to support WACA.
They also have a great need for volunteers to help run the event, and local sponsors to help with the cost.
“What I know and what I’ve come to understand is that you can’t sit there in that ignorance anymore, while I and many other hundreds of thousands of Indigenous people in Canada are still living in the amount of oppression and racism that we are,” Deets said.
The history of the land that residents of Saskatchewan live on is not a neutral one. The land was not empty or unused when European nations arrived. The findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada recognize that fact.
An important part of the resulting Calls to Action is letting go of the lies that have been used to justify and rationalize the deliberate, systematic cultural genocide of the people who are Indigenous to this continent.
The Indian Act and its amendments, which still govern relations between the Government of Canada and Indigenous Canadians, were explicitly intended to destroy Indigenous culture, from language to religion, from governance to parenting, from agriculture to education.
Until the two worlds come together, Deets said, non-Indigenous Canadians and Indigenous Canadians cannot be on the same page.
“I’m a product of colonization, I’m a ‘60s scoop survivor,” she added. “I do this to gain my culture back. I’m not in a state of preservation, I’m still in a state of survival. I still don’t speak my language, that’s an extreme barrier.”
The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a way for all Canadians to learn more about the history of colonialism, and to help the original inhabitants of Canada to heal and recover.
Find Wakamow Aboriginal Community Association on Facebook, email Lori Deets at email@example.com, or call Clayton Getz at 306-681-4214 to be a volunteer.
WACA will also be at the Wakamow Farmer’s Market on Saturday, Sept. 24 selling orange T-shirts and offering information on the powwow. Stop by their booth for any questions you may have.