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WACA events in Crescent Park are lead-up to second annual Every Child Matters powwow

The Wakamow Aboriginal Community Association is holding powwow preparation events at the Crescent Park Amphitheatre on Sep. 3, 10, and 17

The Wakamow Aboriginal Community Association is holding powwow preparation events at the Crescent Park Amphitheatre on Sep. 3, 10, and 17 as part of the lead-up to the second annual Every Child Matters traditional gathering and powwow, which is taking place Sep. 29, 30, and Oct. 1.

This year's Every Child Matters powwow will be held on the grounds of the Western Development Museum in Moose Jaw.

WACA's chairperson, Lori Deets, said the events in Crescent Park serve several purposes, including social gathering, hearing teachings from First Nations across the country, and introducing curious attendees to powwow and dancing. The Sunday evening events will start each week with a free meal from 4 to 5 p.m., followed by dancing and teachings from 5 to 7 p.m.

Anyone can attend for a bite to eat and to learn about the various traditional dances of First Nations peoples.

The first of these powwow preparations took place on Aug. 27. A meal of pulled pork sandwiches, chips, and soda was followed by dancing performed by the Fisher family, who are Anishinaabe from the Chippewa of the Thames First Nation in Ontario, and by the Getz family from the Kahkewistahaw First Nation.

Future events at the Crescent Park Amphitheatre will host:

  • Sept. 3
    • Christina Gervais, Ben Redcrow, and Katherine Robichaud of the Wood Mountain and Saddle Lake Cree Nations
    • Meal to be chili and bannock
  • Sept. 10
    • Robert Severight and family from the Cote First Nation
    • Meal to be hamburgers and hot dogs
  • Sept. 17
    • Damian and Larson Schultz from the Salt River First Nation in NWT
    • Meal to be spaghetti and garlic bannock

"So, we're from the Chippewa of the Thames First Nation, out in Ontario, that's our history, Anishinaabe Ojibwe," explained Wayne Fisher, who danced with more than 20 of his relatives on Aug. 27. "My grandmother Viola Fisher travelled out here with all her kids, so that's where my grandma and all my aunties come from.

"I recall first starting to study dancing with my cousin Cheryl and her sister Lindsay, and it just kind of exploded from there. Now we've grown up and we have our own families and our children are dancing."

Fisher said the traditional regalia they dance in are unique to each person. Some pieces are passed down, others are hand-made or purchased, and sometimes family members will swap pieces as they try to build the story of their dance.

Each of the categories, from traditional to fancy to jingle, and more, corresponds to a traditional function from the tribe. Wayne dances traditional, which is a warrior's dance telling the story of a hunt. Dancers learn moves and typical movement and customs, then improvise from there.

"None of it is choreographed, it's unique each time, and one of my favourite things about a powwow is to watch how the dancers tell their stories. I find it mesmerizing.

"Not all of us get to dance together every time. We have our own lives and things we need to do, so I miss out on events sometimes, or maybe everyone else was busy and it ends up being just me! But when we all come together as a family, like we did on Sunday, that's quite a surreal feeling. It's like our own mini powwow, with the grand entry and all the categories.

"I do enjoy that when we go to do these things, my kids are very excited. My daughter is only three, so the regalia can get hot and she'll ask me, 'Can I just take this off?' but then we start our dance and she's right into it. It's pretty special."

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