My Pow Wow experience

Published on June 1 2017

Last year, I visited the Traditionnal Pow Wow in Kitigan Zibi. I must say I didn't know what to expect and my only goal was to learn more about the Anishinabeg's millenial culture. I have to say I was not disappointed!

The Pow Wow is a time for celebration, healing and spiritual growth. It's the occasion to meet old friends from all over the country and to make some new ones. First Nations from Canada and the US gather here and all are welcome to celebrate, in the respect of customs and traditions.

With this year's Pow Wow on the way, I thought I'd tell you about my experience last year, with a few tips to make the experience all the more pleasurable.

Sunrise Ceremony

Held early in the morning as the day rises, it is a time to reflect and meditate for the community. It's an intimate ceremony and though most participants are from Kitigan Zibi and other First Nations, all are welcome to join. A fire that will go on throughout the week-end is lit at this moment, and at any time during the Pow Wow, people seeking peace and quiet, or a spiritual moment, can come to the fire. The ceremony was sober and I was moved, feeling I had a better understanding of the community's ties to nature and its elements.

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Kitigan Zibi

After the Sunrise Ceremony and the beginning of the festivities, I took a ride on the Kitigan Zibi's territory. It truly is beautiful, especially with the early rays of sun filtered by the leaves. Go see the Cultural Centre! the building is amazing and if they're open when you go, the visit is really interesting and will give you a lot more insight into the community's history.

The Grand Entry and performances

The grand Entry is at noon (with another one at 6pm). Before it starts, you can walk around to see the many stands that are set up. The Grand Entry consists of dances and traditionnal songs, with drums performances. Each performance has a special significance. After the Entry, the Elders hold a prayer to give thanks and commemorate and honour the friends that are with us and the ones who have left. Taking pictures and videos is prohibited during certain parts of the ceremony so if in doubt, don't hesitate to ask someone from the community before taking your camera out. Same goes if you want to takes pictures with people in traditionnal wear; ask permission before shooting!

The stands

Once the ceremony is over, take a stroll on the site and meet the many artists and businesses that have stands there. There are clothes, books, crafts, food... it's a great occasion to exchange with the people of Kitigan Zibi!

Hungry? Give the moose pizza and Indian taco a try!

A few tips

  • There are covered seating areas all around the dance circle. Get there early if you want a spot because it will fill up!Tout autour de la piste où les danseurs se produiront, il y a des endroits couverts où vous pouvez installer votre chaise de parterre pour bien voir les cérémonies. Arrivez tôt! Il va y avoir du monde!
  • Bring sunscreen, especially if you have Celtic origins like I do. It's going to be a beautiful week-end and you don't want to leave looking like a lobster like I did last year.
  • No alcohol on site! However, many stands sell tasty and refreshing drinks. Try them out!
  • If you aren't a member of the First Nations, please don't wear feathers or traditionnal symbols. They have special meanings and wearing them without understanding them or having earned them could be seen as a lack of respect.
  • Looking for lodging? Auberge du Draveur in Maniwaki is close and confortable!

So have fun! You'll discover a rich and vibrant culture and many very friendly people!

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