Thousands gathered at Regina’s Brandt Centre this weekend to experience the First Nations University of Canada’s 40th Annual Spring Celebration Powwow.
Richard Missens, chair of this year’s committee, said he hopes everyone — Indigenous or non-Indigenous — takes away something meaningful from the ceremony.
“It could be knowledge, it could be experience, it could be an idea, it could be a feeling,” he listed. “We just hope we all have a chance to learn from one another.”
Missens said the organizing committee was expecting around 8,000 guests this year, along with more than 800 powwow dancers from all over the world, which is the most the celebration’s ever had perform.
To commemorate the powwow’s 40th anniversary, he added Saskatchewan Indian Federated College alumni from the past four decades are participating in each grand entry.
Junior boys dancing at the #FNUnivPowwow2018 in #YQR. Organizers tell me they had 800+ dancers this year from all over the world for the 40th anniversary — that’s the most they’ve ever had. #FNUniv40 pic.twitter.com/MpDDTKtEg3
— Jessie Anton (@jessieanton_) April 22, 2018
First Nations University student Heather O’Watch is also helping to organize the powwow and said being a part of it shows she’s honouring those who have gone before her.
“This powwow means so much more to me now than just as a spectator. It means a lot of picking up what other students in the past have put down for us and keeping that up,” she explained.
“We as students know that we have so many obstacles — especially as Indigenous students — that we face every single day, and coming and having this powwow start from a recognition for students and community means so much.”
When it comes to this powwow’s role in reconciliation, O’Watch said it’s crucial.
“Seeing the dance and hearing the laughter and the excitement — to the joy and the coming together of Regina’s community — we need more of that and it shouldn’t just be a weekend thing.”
The First Nations University’s spring powwow is one of the longest running celebrations in Saskatchewan and the largest in Western Canada.