Erin Halonen is an Educator and the former First Nations, Métis, Inuit, Curriculum Consultant in the Curriculum Implementation and Resources Branch, Alberta Education. Her passion for Education for Reconciliation and Indigenous Ways of Knowing was born through her lived experience with the local Cree First Nations community. Embedded in her work is deep sense of agency to urge the provincial education system to move forward in reconciliatory understanding and action.
Poundmaker’s Lodge Treatment Centre near St. Albert, hosted their annual pow wow on August 3rd and 4th, 2019. Community Engagement Officer (CEO) Libby Szarka cites the “signature community engagement event brings together 10, 000 spectators a year.” It brings awareness to the efforts Poundmaker’s provides to indigenous and non-indigenous communities. The theme for this year’s pow wow was Honoring Indigenous Language and Culture.
I attended the pow wow for the Saturday afternoon Grand Entry. A highlight of the day were Premier Kenney’s attendance and participation. He and other dignitaries including Grand Chief Wilton Little Child walked around the arbour, and then addressed onlookers.
Native Delights was on site serving up delicious indigenous dishes such as Rez Dogs, Bannock Tacos and Cree Coffee. See the link for more information about the indigenous owned Cree Coffee Company. Bannock Tacos are my favourite! A bannock taco is made by placing all the taco fixings on top of a traditional bannock fry bread.
The highlight of any pow wow is the dancing and singing. I had the opportunity to chat with Traditional Dancer Fred Scanie. He was on his way to carry the Eagle Staff out of the arbour. He spoke to me about how it is an honor to be asked to carry the Eagle Staff. Some information about the significance of the Eagle Staff can be found here. He then shared with me why he dances. Fred’s head dress often draws attention. It has been made from over 300 eagle feathers. His regalia is very significant to him. It represents his life journey, or tells the story of his life. He said, “when we put our outfits on, people pay attention to us.” He experienced this especially during the Calgary Stampede, where dancers were really treated with respect and honor. He has been featured on the covers of magazines and many places while wearing his regalia. However, he explained that isn’t why he dances. He said, “That isn’t what’s important to me. I dance to make people happy. I want to see people smiling. I dress in my regalia as a reminder that Indigenous people have been here for the last 152 years and we are still here. We still have our culture and we practice it!”
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