An audience of hundreds watched as the inaugural Every Child Matters (ECM) Powwow by the Wakamow Aboriginal Community Association (WACA) kicked off on Truth and Reconciliation Day (Sept. 30) with the Grand Entry — a procession of dignitaries, flags, and dancers in spectacular traditional regalia.
The Grand Entry was accompanied by several songs performed by singers and drummers representing First Nations in Saskatchewan, co-ordinated by Lance McNabb from George Gordon First Nation.
"These are songs we sing to remember, as Indigenous people," explained announcer Jeff Cappo. "To remember all the children who didn't come home, which is why we're all here today."
Cappo's commentary was often humourous as he introduced the dignitaries, and the entry was followed by plenty of dancing from the crowd, including children from various nearby schools. The drumbeats could be felt in the chest and the feeling of gathering and celebration was infectious.
Local government was represented by city councillors Crystal Froese and Doug Blanc, MLAs Tim McLeod and Greg Lawrence were in attendance, NDP Leader Carla Beck was there, local school board representatives, Sarah Simison from the Moose Jaw Cultural Centre, Jennifer McRorie from MJMAG, and a group of senior leadership from 15 Wing, including Col. Jonathan Bouchard.
The full list of dignitaries was not immediately available, but Cappo thanked everyone for their support of the occasion.
A sea of orange shirts surrounded the grounds of the powwow, many of which bore a quote from Cadmus Delorme, chief of Cowessess First Nation:
"We all inherited this. Nobody today created residential schools. Nobody today created the Indian Act, nobody today created the '60's scoop, but we all inherited it and we just have to acknowledge that people are healing and people are hurting. Let's do something about it."
(Editorial note: Photos for this story were contributed by photojournalist Saddman Zaman, Moose Jaw Express's newest team member, to whom we extend a warm welcome.)