Powwow shines spotlight on First Nations youth

Justin Crann
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A ring of colourfully-dressed First Nations youth dance around a collection of Native leaders and local dignitaries to the driving beat of a traditional drum song.

The song is performed by a group of youth — the Pasqua Youth Drum Group — who traveled a great distance to perform in the day's ceremonies.

This and many scenes like it were part of the third annual Moose Jaw Powwow in Wakamow Valley on Saturday, and they captured the event's theme: empowering youth and strengthening the community.

"We wanted our youth to feel empowered by showcasing them," explained organizer Isabelle Hanson. "We've done this by inviting Miss Teen Saskatchewan Michaella Shannon to come and talk. We also have a few special (events), like the Tiny Tot dance, which feature dancers six and under.

"As well, the Pasqua Youth Drum Group came and is our host drum group today, so we are really excited to have them come to perform here," she added.

The emphasis put on youth at the powwow was made most evident as young dancers took to the centre of the big top in their traditional outfits.

According to Shannon, herself a First Nations teen, it was a beautiful sight that reminded her of home.

"It's always awesome to see all of the regalia and hear the drums. It's good. This feels like home," she said. "The drum reminds me of a heartbeat — the heartbeat of my mother, grandmother, family and friends. And it's just nice to be a part of the indigenous community."

Shannon said she wished she could dance herself, but her jingle outfit wasn't ready.

Saturday's Powwow was also the first to be hosted in Wakamow Valley — a fitting site for the event, according to Hanson.

"The Lakota people used to winter here, so it is very appropriate," she said.

She added that she was happy the event's visitors, singers and dancers could make it out to the Powwow in spite of the rainy weather.

For her part, Shannon said she wouldn't have missed it, though she had some difficulty finding her way at first.

"I am so happy she (Hanson) asked me to be here," said Shannon. "We all feel so close to each other in the First Nations community, and this brings us all together."

You can follow Justin Crann on Twitter.


Organizations: First Nations, Pasqua Youth Drum Group

Geographic location: Wakamow Valley

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