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Honouring Indigenous culture

Annual Poundmaker's Lodge powwow this weekend expected to draw 1,000 dancers
3107 Poundmaker powwow file
A performer begins to dance during the grand entry at the Poundmaker's powwow in August 2016.

Nearly 1,000 dancers are expected to kick up their feet at the Poundmaker’s Lodge Treatment Centre's annual traditional powwow in St. Albert this weekend.

The weekend-long event will be kicked off by a traditional story-telling session with elders on Friday, aligning with the powwow’s theme of “honouring Indigenous language and culture.”

Community engagement officer Libby Szarka said language and culture is an important part of Indigenous people's identity.

“It’s a time to embrace and celebrate the achievements of Indigenous and just experience our culture and spirituality,” she said. “When people come here for treatment too, they are in such search of their identity.”

Throughout the weekend, there will be various dance competitions with high value prizes, drum contests, a headdress presentation, food trucks and artists selling traditional wares.

“If you’re looking to get some traditional crafting or some beading done or moccasins, this is the place to get it,” Szarka said

Dancers will be called to the arena with daily grand entries at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., after which the dancing and drum contests will take place.

Contests include new vehicles for first-place winners of the ironman and ironwoman specials. Money prizes are also being given for the drum contest, with a first-place prize of $8,000.

Dancers must register to participate at the Poundmaker’s Lodge before the powwow begins, but Szarka said tiny tots do not need to register.

Szarka said the event will also have a cross-cultural component, with 60 Chinese elders honouring attendees with a traditional song on Sunday. In return, Indigenous elders will sing a Cree song.

The event is free and open to the public, and Szarka said everybody is welcome to come.

Edmonton Transit Services has partnered with Poundmaker’s Lodge for the powwow and is offering a shuttle service between Northgate and Poundmaker’s Lodge on Saturday and Sunday.

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Hannah Lawson

About the Author: Hannah Lawson

Hannah Lawson joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2019 after working as editor of the Athabasca Advocate. She writes about city hall.
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