FNUniv Powwow had great turnout after 2-year hiatus

Click to play video: 'First Nations University of Canada Powwow is back after two years'
First Nations University of Canada Powwow is back after two years
After two-years, audiences gathered to watch dancers and listen to singers from all corners of the country who competed in this year's FNUniv powwow celebration in Regina – Jun 5, 2022

One of Saskatchewan’s largest indoor powwows returned last weekend after pausing for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Countless people from different walks of life danced, sang, drummed, and spectated at this year’s First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv) spring powwow held last Saturday and Sunday at Regina’s Brandt Centre, REAL District.

“We’re finally able to gather after multiple years, obviously because of the pandemic. There has been much anticipation,” said Robyn Morin, co-chair of FNUniv Powwow.

“We worked very hard to make the event happen. So, it feels really good for us to all be here and to celebrate once again.”

Morin, who is a powwow dancer herself, worked with Bonnie Rockthunder to co-chair the event. Many people took notice and were happy to see the powwow return with a new committee as some members are FNUniv alumni and also known in the dancing circle.

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“It’s nice to see a new committee as it evolved,” said Allan Bonaise, lead singer with Fly In Eagle drum group.

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“Seeing them grow up into leaders … some of the announcers used to be champion dancers and now they’re announcing. Everyone is evolving. It’s really nice to see.”

The FNUniv powwow is usually held in the early spring and is known to kick off powwow season in Saskatchewan. This year’s event drew a large crowd where many were happy to reunite with friends and family. Audiences felt the beat as dancers competed in a variety of Indigenous dance styles which included Men’s Chicken, Men and Women’s Fancy, Men’s Grass, Women’s Jingle, and Men’s and Women’s Traditional and various dance specials.

“I just (wanted) to come and dance again,” said Adriel Paddy, chicken powwow dancer. “After this long virus that has been keeping us away, it just feels great to come back.”

Irene Oakes, from Nekaneet First Nation, has been dancing at FNUniv powwow since it first started back in the 1980s. After what she describes as “a long two years,” she is happy to be doing what she loves doing.

“It’s always good to come out and support the university,” Oakes siad.

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“It felt lonely because I wanted to be around friends and family. I couldn’t see a lot of my family too because you’re afraid to bring the sickness or take the sickness. This is great — so happy to be back here.”

Some highlights from the weekend event included the FNUniv Princess Pageant, where FNUniv student Kaleigh Starblanket, who was the 2019 Miss FNUniv Ambassador, passed her crown to Alexis Isnana from Standing Buffalo Dakota Nation.

The powwow ended with the announcement of winners in the dancing and singing/drumming competition. Taking home $12,000 for first place in the drumming contest was Blackstone, followed by Black Otter in second and Sharpshooter in third.

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