Sitansisk Wolastoqiyik celebrates triumphant return to powwow season

·2 min read
People say they are excited to celebrate the union of nations and cultures after three years of being unable to hold in-person powwows due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Aniekan Etuhube/CBC - image credit)
People say they are excited to celebrate the union of nations and cultures after three years of being unable to hold in-person powwows due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Aniekan Etuhube/CBC - image credit)

Sitansisk organizers are proud to celebrate what they say is one of the biggest powwows in recent memory.

From Friday until Sunday, Sitansisk Wolastoqiyik hosted over 10,000 people from all walks of life and nations.

Community event planner Nicole Carty said there were visitors from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, even some from the U.S.

"It's really nice to see those old friends that we haven't seen in a while," Carty said.

Aniekan Etuhube/CBC
Aniekan Etuhube/CBC

Sitansisk — also known as St. Mary's First Nation — held the first powwow in New Brunswick this season.

Chief Allan Polchies said there was extensive planning to prepare for the first in-person powwow in three years.

"We've had some challenges in trying to secure our drum groups ... Northern Cree is a Grammy award-winning drum group. So we … have to reach out way ahead of time in order to secure great drum groups to come here to bring that good medicine to our people," Polchies said.

"We're grateful to have all the dancers and drummers and all the volunteers that helped put this together."

Calli Bourgeois of St. Mary's First Nation and Tobique First Nation danced in Sunday's grand entry.

Bourgeois said it was tough not having a powwow for multiple years and not being able to meet some friends and family.

Aniekan Etuhube/CBC
Aniekan Etuhube/CBC

"I felt good," she said "I felt proud that we are having our powwow after while."

That sentiment is also felt by Clifford Paul of Membertou First Nation in Cape Breton, or Unama'ki.

Paul, runs a craft company called Bearman Authentic, said he has been present at past powwows held by Sitansisk and is glad to be back.

Aniekan Etuhube/CBC
Aniekan Etuhube/CBC

"We all miss each other and we all enjoy each other's company ... we all enjoy the power and strength of the drum and the powwow itself, the gathering."

Paul, who also works at the Unama'ki Institute of Natural Resources, said there was an impact to mental health that was felt by many when powwows were cancelled.