Annual International Peace Powwow takes place in Lethbridge

Click to play video: 'Annual International Peace Powwow dances into Lethbridge'
Annual International Peace Powwow dances into Lethbridge
WATCH: It was a jam-packed weekend filled with Indigenous dancing, music and traditions at the Enmax Centre in Lethbridge as the 21st annual International Peace Powwow took place. As Taz Dhaliwal finds out, the event is more than just a dance competition for participants – Feb 23, 2020

The 21st annual International Peace Powwow hosted by the Blackfoot Canadian Cultural Society took place over the weekend at the Enmax Centre in Lethbridge, Alta.

The two-day event consisted of a traditional Indigenous dance competition, along with music and visual arts from across western North America.

The event brings together the nations of the Blackfoot Confederacy — Alberta’s Piikani, Kainai/Blood and Siksika, and Montana’s Blackfeet — as well as tribes and First Nations from across the continent, according to organizers.

One of the dancers Global News spoke to was the “head lady dancer.” Levia Manywounds said she was very honoured and excited to have been chosen for the role.

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“When I was a teenager, to be head lady dancer… it’s a big deal to be chosen,” Manywounds said. “From my understanding, they selected me because of the role model I’ve been, the things I’ve been doing over the past couple of years.”

Click to play video: 'Inspirational Indigenous Individuals: A new series on Global!'
Inspirational Indigenous Individuals: A new series on Global!

The venue was filled with close to 400 dancers who walked into the arena in colourful, traditional clothes to the sound of live singing and drums. Around 3,000 people were expected to attend.

“I haven’t danced in about three years, so I guess this is me re-entering the powwow circle,” Manywounds said. “The reason why I haven’t danced is because my parents passed away, and traditionally, I would take off time from the powwow circle to grieve that loss.”

Organizers said the event is seen as an opportunity for performers to showcase their talents and pride as First Nations people.

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“To be back [as] a part of this circle, it’s a big deal, it’s a really big deal,” Manywounds said. “It’s a big connection to spirituality, being back to my roots and to be surrounded by my people.”

“Growing up, when I did get into powwow, it was empowering,” said Kelly Good, an event co-ordinator.

“So, then you go back into your daily life after an event like this and you feel like you can conquer anything because you’re so proud of what you do.”

The public promotion of Indigenous culture is seen as a positive event by both Indigenous and non-Indigenous community members, according to organizers.

This allows everyone to come together to celebrate dance and music “that has been around since the beginning of time,” Good said.

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