34th Annual Canadore College Powwow in North Bay, Feb. 4

This Saturday, you will be able to hear the sound of the grandfather drum beat while students, North Bay residents, and visitors to the area dance traditional styles in their colourful regalias.

Grand entry for dancers in regalia will begin at 12 noon. Grand entry helps welcome each category of dancers into the powwow circle, and take care of important protocol that must be completed. The dancers will be led by Nathalie Restoule and Cody Mckenzie-Sackaney. The two have taken up this responsibility many times for Canadore.

Mckenzie-Sackaney says that “being asked to be a head dancer is always an honour, and one that I am happy to fulfil. I was also able to help the powwow committee this year as well as previous years. The powwow always has a good turnout every year. It is nice to have when you are missing the summer powwow trail.”

The powwow is put on annually by Canadore’s First People’s Centre and the powwow committee to celebrate the Indigenous student population. The committee is made up of students and volunteers who help make each year a success. Two of those individuals are Ivory Towegishig and Jenelle Manitowabi, who have headed the mission of organizing the event this year.

Each year a theme is chosen, with this year’s being “supporting one another.” Previous years have seen themes such as “honouring our future leaders” and “empowering the seven generations.”

The powwow committee encourages non-Indigenous and Indigenous individuals alike to come out to enjoy the event. Cultural adviser for the First People’s Centre, Gerry McComb, said “the powwow is open to those from all walks of life who want to come and experience and listen to the songs and stories, watch the dancing and even take part in the circle during some of the songs. All are welcome in the circle.”

“Those who come out to the powwow can expect some of our best dancers and singers and some teachings on those dances and songs. There will be numerous local vendors who will have their crafts available for sale too,” McComb added. Spectators can enjoy observing a men’s and women’s hand drum contest. There will also be a feast put on by the powwow committee for everyone to enjoy.

McComb aims to keep the circle respectful and fun for everyone.

“Keep an ear out for the emcees/announcers of the powwow, as they will be calling out important information on what's coming up next and whether or not video recording or taking photos will be permitted,” he said. “Please be respectful of the elders, singers and dancers. Ask for permission before touching the regalia (dance outfit) and before taking photos or recording them. There is no alcohol or drugs allowed in the powwow.”

Kelsey Borgford is a Nbisiing Nishnaabekwe from the Marten clan and is a freelance Local Journalism Initiative reporter seeking to facilitate the platform of Indigenous people across Turtle Island through her writing. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Kelsey Borgford,, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star