Celebrating spring with annual university powwow in Regina

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Celebrating spring with annual university powwow in Regina

The First Nations University Annual Spring Powwow had humble beginnings 39 years ago. Students organized it as a way to share their culture, identity and pride with their classmates.

Now, it has grown to one of the largest celebrations of its kind in Canada. This year, there were 750 dancers, 21 drums, and nearly 7,000 spectators at the Brandt Centre in Regina to celebrate the spring.

"It's a hopping place, it's very busy," said Richard Missens, chair of the First Nations University spring powwow committee. "It's a wonderful spectacle to see."

Dancers come dressed in their personal regalia for the event.

"Each of those is unique to the dancer, you won't see any two the same out of all those 750 dancers," said Missens.

"Each of those outfits takes thousands of hours to make and probably thousands of dollars to put together. You can see the time, effort and pride that people put into it."

Dancing for healing

Sharon Baptiste knows how personal the regalia for this powwow is.

"My outfit is yellow, it represents life, because I'm a life giver," said Baptiste. She said the outfit is fully beaded and includes buckskin and mink. 

Baptiste said she smudges her outfit before every powwow to help heal those present at the powwow who need it. 

"I try and lift the spirits when I dance. There's a lot of people out there that aren't dancing, that are on healing journeys ... that can't dance like some of us can," said Baptiste. 

Baptiste said attending powwows like this makes her feel proud of her culture. 

"I love tradition, I love our languages," said Baptiste.

"By dancing, and the drum being out here, people still singing, people still dancing ... that's how we survive."