The sound of drum and song blended with the jingle of traditional dress ornamentation echoed across the playing fields of Lakedell School on Friday, May 29, 2015. Lakedell was host to a significant display of tradition, culture and spirituality of First Nation people before a large and appreciative crowd of spectators.
The event, held under overcast skies, was overseen by Chiefs, Elders and Council Members from Ermineskin, Louis Bull, Samson and Montana First Nation, dignitaries from provincial, county and municipal government, RCMP and WRPS staff and officials.
What was remarkable was the fact that grade four and up students from Falun, Pigeon Lake, Buck Mountain, Winfield, Alder Flats and Pipestone were bussed in to join Lakedell’s student body to witness the event and gain appreciation and understanding of First Nation culture.
Powwow’s hold significant spiritual and cultural meaning for First Nation peoples and embrace values often lost in the busy and disconnected world we live in. This is apparent in simple conversation with the mother of six year old twins Chrystan and Coltyn Johnson of Samson Cree Nation. Her oldest son was taught the ways of dance by his grandfather, and the twins, now dancing for two years already, learned it through observation. Generational learning and knowledge incubates a disposition towards respect and family connection that instructional/institutional education cannot offer.
Values such as these are interwoven throughout the powwow celebration of life. The event is structured in a series of expanding rings which reflect relationships and spirituality. The circular pattern in which the powwow is set up starts with dancers in the middle surrounded by a circle for the Drums and the Master of Ceremonies. These are further surrounded by a circle for participant families and spectators. The end result resembles ripples on a pond. The movement of the dancers in a circular motion reflects the path of the sun. Elder Cecil Nepoose of Samson Cree Nation speaks of the dance, “We celebrate the treasure of movement, carried by the power of the drum.” Dances such as the ‘Inter-Tribal’ dance invite participation of others outside the host of the powwow to join in, promoting peace and unity before the Maker.
The successful event hosted by Lakedell School with the hundreds of participants and spectators is a fine example of the core values of the powwow… a celebration and honouring of culture; The coming together and meeting in peace and unity before the Maker.