Spirit of the Drum Traditional Powwow Attracts Hundreds to Celebrate Indigenous Culture and Reconciliation
The Smiths Falls District Collegiate Institute (SFDCI) 3rd annual Spirit of the Drum Traditional Powwow attracted hundreds to Smiths Falls on June 8 and June 9.
“The event is held annually to raise awareness about Indigenous culture and to encourage reconciliation between First Nations peoples and those from other cultures,” said Blake Seward, a teacher at SFDCI and a member of the organizing committee.
The powwow, which has received a Lieutenant Governor’s Award for youth programming, featured a powerful Grand Entry Ceremony, as well as Indigenous dancers from the Mohawk, Algonquin and Mi’kmaq First Nations.
“It really brought people together to celebrate Indigenous culture and traditions,” added SFDCI Principal Marsha McNair.
The weekend offered visitors educational sessions on Indigenous sacred medicines and treaty belts, a traditional Indigenous feast prepared by SFDCI students, as well as Indigenous craftspeople selling items such as hand drums, quivers, porcupine quill bracelets, and Indigenous art.
Alqonquin master canoe builder Chuck Commanda was on hand to discuss the process of making a birch bark canoe. Commanda was involved in a recent project in which he constructed a traditional birch bark canoe at SFDCI with the help of students.
Visitors said they were impressed with the event and the spirit of reconciliation it inspired. “It’s very beautiful,” said spectator Lindey Touzel of Perth. “I like the collective atmosphere. It’s really important for us. Reconciliation is just about bringing people together and developing relationships and understanding. I think they (organizers) are doing a good job.”
Another display at the powwow was a research project conducted by SFDCI students on missing or murdered Indigenous women. The “REDress” display had pictures and profiles on some missing women, such as Mackie Basil of Fort St. James BC, a Tl’azt’en First Nation women who disappeared on June 14, 2013, leaving behind a fiveyear old son. The displays presented a biography of each woman, details of their cases, and cultural information regarding the nation they belonged to.
Partners in the event include: Town of Smiths Falls; Parks Canada; Upper Canada District School Board; Service Clubs of Smiths Falls; Royal Canadian Legion Branch 95; Royal Canadian Legion Ladies Auxiliary Branch 95; Community Health Services; Smiths Falls and District Chamber of Commerce; Chris Burns and team: SFDCI Arts Department; Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario; Smiths Falls Police Service; Lanark County Paramedic Service; Romaine Mitchell, Ministry of Education; Josée Bourgeoise; SFDCI Chef Jeff Burns; Railway Museum of Eastern Ontario; Andress’ Your Independent Grocer; Food Basics (Smiths Falls); Cooperators Insurance (Paul Spinelli); UCDSB Vice Chair William MacPherson; Gary Lackey; Peter McKenna and John Jordan.
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