George Fraser is Columneetza’s First Nations supporter worker and helps organize the annual Thomas-Dueck Powwow which takes place all day Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Photo by Patrick Davies)

Thomas-Dueck Powwow happening all day Friday

Renamed in honour of a student and a teacher, Columneetza’s powwow is open to everyone

This Friday, for the first time ever, Lakecity Secondary Columneetza Campus’ annual Thomas-Dueck Powwow will be a full day event.

For the last four years, First Nations support worker George Fraser has organized and run the powwow for the school. Originally, however, the idea for the powwow came from a student, Casey Thomas, who was working on a social studies project for class.

Fraser said she approached him about making a picture book detailing a powwow and the difference between the various dancers that were involved in it. Eventually, Thomas and her teacher, Vic Dueck, agreed a powwow in the school would be a cool thing to see and she asked Fraser if he could put something together.

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“I said, well, I can see what I can do,” Fraser remarked. “We pulled off our first powwow, Sarah Paul helped take over the powwow and got us our first drum group and we had a half day powwow for the school to partake in.”

This year the powwow, renamed the Thomas-Dueck Powwow rather then Lakecity Secondary Powwow, takes places on Friday, Jan. 18 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with dancing going on all day. The event will begin at nine with the Grand Entry, where Fraser will be relating the story of the powwow’s origins once again to explain its name change to the Thomas-Dueck Powwow, in honour of those who instigated its founding.

After dignitaries and chiefs are given the opportunity to say a few words, Fraser said that local hoop dancers from Marie Sharpe will perform officially kicking off the event. From there a wide range of drum circles, dance groups and individual performers will take to the floor for the next six hours.

“We’ve opened it up and invited pretty well anybody. We’ve sent out invitations to city council, the school board, to pretty well every school in the district, all the band schools out west and the public is more than welcome to come in, take a look and see what it’s all about,” Fraser said.

The students of Columneetza have “absolutely loved it” through the years according to Fraser. Every year they’ve held an inter-tribal dance where everyone in the stands is invited down to join the dance. Usually, Fraser said, after the call goes out the stands are empty and the dance floor is full.

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“I’m pretty happy to see it happen. It brings to light a lot of what our First Nations students do during their off time in the summer. They go out and hit the powwow trail and go to a lot of different powwow’s and dance, some do competitions and some just do traditional,” Fraser mused. “Its good to showcase their talents in a positive light.”

In addition to dancing, they’ll also have a concession set up with bannock sales for the school. This Friday was chosen for the powwow, Fraser added, so the students would have something positive to do other than just sit in classrooms without instruction.

Thomas will be performing at the event, alongside local dancers Summer Edgar-Tallio and Sharae Wycotte, in addition to others Fraser said may perform, depending on schedules. The drum group that started the powwow four years ago, Taleomi, will also be performing along with two new drum groups Battle Mountain and Northern Tribez, both based out of Kamloops.

“It’s just showcasing people about what First Nations cultural activities are and giving people a firsthand experience at doing it,” Fraser remarked. “Anybody is welcome to come in anytime from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. we’ll be celebrating Powwow.”

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