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Hundreds dance, feast at colourful powwow in Williams Lake

The Honouring Our Families powwow brought families across the community together

A sea of colour danced across the floor as families moved to the steady rhythm of drums during the Honouring Our Families Traditional Powwow in Williams Lake.

The free, all-day family event was hosted by Denisiqi Services Society at Thompson Rivers University’s gymnasium on Feb. 17, kicking off the Family Day long weekend. The celebration was open to all, bringing together the different communities in the area.

“That’s what it’s all about, opening up the powwow to everyone, not just Indigenous,” said Bruce Baptiste, cultural ambassador at Denisiqi Services Society. “Inviting the general public, in turn, gives people an idea of what the powwow means in a cultural sense.”

There were two grand entries, the first at 1 p.m. and the second at 7 p.m. A feast, provided by Denisiqi Services Society, was held at 5 p.m. Coming and going throughout the day, Baptiste estimated close to 700 people attended the powwow.

Young and old danced throughout the day, with the categories being tiny tots (for the youngest to come dance), followed by the golden ages category (the elders), juniors, teens and adults. Regalia or not, Indigenous or not, audience members were invited to join in the traditional dancing as singers and drummers set the atmosphere. The host drumming group was Sage Hills from the Kamloops area. Northern Tribez from Kamloops and Chubby Cree from Edmonton also drummed.

Many sponsors helped make the event possible. Each dance category was sponsored with winners receiving prizes. Tŝideldel First Nation sponsored the teen special, Xeni Gwet’in First Nation Government the junior special, Denisiqi Services Society the golden age special and Orange Shirt Society the orange regalia special. The Tsilhqot’in National Government sponsored photographer Tammy Haller and the Northern Shuswap Tribal Council sponsored the PA system. Baptiste also thanked TRU for the use of their facility.

Baptiste said the powwow’s theme, Honouring Our Families, was a great way to segway into the long weekend with Family Day on Monday, as well as a way to bring people together during the long winter months, as most powwows happen in the summer and fall.

“The biggest thing was the powwow allowing families to gather and visit and socialize, and support the dancers,” said Baptiste. “That was the whole intent of this powwow, coming together, all families, Indigenous and non-Indigenous.”

Kim Kimberlin, Local Journalism Initiative

About the Author: Kim Kimberlin, Local Journalism Initiative

I joined Black Press Media in 2022, and have a passion for covering topics on women’s rights, 2SLGBTQIA+ and racial issues, mental health and the arts.
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