Dancers young and old came together on Tuesday in one Manitoba community to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day, and to proudly represent their communities and their culture.
On Tuesday, as the Brokenhead Ojibway Nation (BON) celebrated National Indigenous Peoples Day and the grand opening of their new brand new Maamawittaawiinan powwow grounds, 16-year-old BON member and Selkirk resident Tyson Prince performed a traditional dance at the site of the new facility.
Tyson, who said he has been dancing since he has been able to walk, said he sees traditional Indigenous dancing and taking part in ceremonies as a way to connect to his culture, but also as a way for him and others to move forward as Indigenous people and communities.
“It really makes me feel like I am moving forward and we are moving forward,” Tyson said. “We need to focus on our past and all that has happened, but we also need to continue to move forward as a community, and look towards the future.”
Tyson said because he sees ceremony as a way for BON and for other communities to come together, he is happy to see the brand new Maamawittaawiinan powwow grounds up and running in the community that sits about 65 kilometres north of Winnipeg.
“This is really huge for the community, and I think it’s another example of moving forward, and just another reason we can be so proud,” he said.
While Prince danced on Tuesday, so did 81-year-old Indigenous Elder Harriet Prince (no direct relation), who said she grew up in the Sagkeeng First Nation and now lives in B.C., but travels back to Manitoba every summer to take part in ceremonies.
“It felt wonderful to dance here today,” Harriet said. “And this new place is great, because it’s so good for the community, and they really needed this.”
Harriet said that at the age of 81, she has no plans to stop dancing and taking part in ceremonies any time soon.
“I come back home every summer, and I take part in a Sundance and take part in many ceremonies,” she said.
“Dancing brings me joy, and it brings our people together."
— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun