REGINA – A powwow is a key part of First Nations culture and over the weekend, thousands of people are filling Regina’s Brandt Centre to take in one of Canada’s largest.
Each bead on an outfit and each dance step hold a special significance for individuals, as well as their ancestry.
“Powwow is a celebration of dance. People dance different styles,” said Racelle Kooy, with the First Nations University. “From the men who look like they’re hunting or imitating wild game, to the ladies being very elegant in their regalia, or the ladies with the fancy movement like the butterfly.”
Kooy said while there is a competition aspect to the dancing, it means much more than bragging rights at the end of the day.
“They dance remembering those who can’t… People in the hospital, family members that are unfortunately incarcerated and those who are incapacitated and unable to dance for themselves.”
Linda Kaysaywaysemat drove all the way from British Columbia to take part in the 37th annual Spring Celebration Powwow.
She wore a jingle dress, a healing garment, made with snuff caps.
“When my dad passed away, I made this dress in his memory,” she said. “My dad meant the world to me. He is Cree, from this area. Everything on here is representative of my dad. He had a great impact on my life. It’s because of my dad that I am where I am now.”
Kaysaywaysemat’s father died 14 years ago, and she has danced in the dress since. On Saturday, however, she was thinking of another lost relative.
“We have had so many community deaths within the last few weeks, my sister-in-law was the biggest one. She just passed away two weeks ago. So that’s who I’m dancing for.”
The Benjoe family was also mourning a loss as they headed into the pow-wow.
“We just lost someone very close, that meant a lot to us,” said Thomas Benjoe.
His wife and two young children danced in memory of an elder on Saturday.
“This is meant to bring health and happiness to our community members. For some of them that are struggling, to pray for them, as well,” he said.