June 21, 2015 – Aboriginal Day – Cathy Elliott
A Cooper’s Hawk circled above us with a fish in her mouth, as if she was showing off what she’d done, mocking the people fishing in the waters of Island Lake Conservation Area. The Sacred Fire was lit on the beach, and Clifford, who had been there since 12;30am, was keeping it going. We had been at it for a couple of days – a Traditional Pow Wow, the very first for Orangeville.
The Honouring Our Youth Pow Wow had begun with a concert in Alexandra Park in Orangeville. On Saturday, the Grand Entry was beautiful, with a small but warm crowd of kids, their parents and Elders watching the Flag Carriers, Lead Dancers and Youth Dancers enter the grounds. We talked a lot about Reconciliation and how to bring our history into focus in schools, churches and businesses. There was passionate discussion about the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW) and other bits of business Canada has to tackle, now that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission had released its report.
Saturday evening there was a Community Feast and another concert. (Yours truly did a set between Metis Jigger Johanna Moloughney, and Joyslam. Also featured that night was Missy Knott and Larry Kurtz with Bruce Ley. It was a breezy evening that included drumming and dancing and was a great warm up for Sunday, National Aboriginal Day.
Saturday must have gotten the word out, because we had more people celebrating Father’s Day as well as Aboriginal Day. I was asked to carry the Mi’kmaq Flag, which I did with tears in my eyes and a big lump of gratitude in my throat. There were lots of kids there; some wearing Regalia, but mostly Orangeville kids who were seeing a Pow Wow for the first time.
I met a youth who only had ten dollars to spend at the Pow Wow. There were beautiful crafts on site, but he came to our booth and asked about the Feathers we were displaying. I explained that they were made by grade four and five kids so that FNMI kids in fly-in communities could have arts programs in par with those down south. He looked at one that said, “My wishes: warmth, light, food, friendship, good health, water.” – Elena. He asked how much and I said, of course, “Ten dollars.” He took the Feather. I said, “You do know you’re helping out another kid, right?” He beamed at that.
The Pow Wow finished with the women singing the Water Song as we lay tobacco down, thanking the water for giving and sustaining life. Full circle. As I danced my last dance with the flag, I reflected on the young man who had just received a Sobriety Drum, who had sat up for almost two days by the Fire, who was celebrating being a father and looking forward to his next child. Listening to him, on this day, so full of trepidation and hope, I also had faith in the future.
Chi Miigwetch to the Dufferin County Cultural Resource Circle for donating the DAREarts First Roots Booth and including us in this Ceremony. Donations for the program may be made by going to our DAREarts First Roots Donation Page.
You can also order cards for your company or family by going to: DAREarts Cards.
Keep an eye out for us at future Pow Wows and events. We’d love to meet you! A-ho!