On May 17, approximately 2,000 youth and adults participated in the ninth annual youth powwow, presented by School District 8’s aboriginal education department.
It was a day to celebrate First Nations youth and culture. The theme this year was Stepping Towards Reconciliation. The steps of learning readying youth for this year’s powwow included classroom lessons, circle storytelling, making of regalia, powwow drum and dance lessons.
These lessons are instrumental in teaching youth historical truths as well as making the effort to reclaim and celebrate First Nations culture, said Gail Higginbottom, district principal of Aboriginal education.
Ktunaxa elder Anne Jimmie welcomed all with prayer and Lower Kootenay Band council member Jared Basil welcomed everyone to powwow. Flags representing the Eagle Staff, Yaqan Nukiy, Canada, United States, Metis and Youth of School District 8 entered the Grand Entry accompanied by over 100 youth in regalia, elders and visitors.
Special guests Shirley Hill and Luke Whiteman, both championship dancers, invited students from the audience to learn a contemporary fancy shawl dance, a hoop dance and men’s fancy traditional dance. Students spun hoops, spread their butterfly wings and learned both traditional as well as modern steps.
The Grade 3/4 class from Yaqan Nukiy School performed a hoop dance; five hoops shaped into many images including butterflies and the world to demonstrate the colours of all nations and how, when we work together, we have the power to create a beautiful, caring world.
The afternoon session began with a proclamation to care for our First Nations sisters, aunties, and mothers. There was an acknowledgement of the many silent voices of the missing Indigenous women in Canada. The proclamation to end violence against women and children was signed by Lower Kootenay Band Chief Jason Louie and Creston Mayor Ron Toyota.
Those who walked from the LKB band office to the powwow included elders throughout the Ktunaxa Nation, LKB staff and community members from LKB and Creston. They wore red to represent the many missing voices. After the signing of the proclamation, these guests were invited to join the Grand Entry.
“We want to thank all participants for both their care and efforts to bring greater awareness to this important issue,” Higginbottom said.
The afternoon resumed with an SD8 graduation/honouring ceremony for Aboriginal students receiving their Grade 12 diploma this June. It was a time to celebrate their academic achievements, acknowledging their hard work and the many parents, grandparents, teachers and community members that supported them along their journey.