'They're all hungry for the dance': Onion Lake powwow a long-awaited celebration

·2 min read
People were able to gather in-person last weekend to attend the powwow at Onion Lake Cree Nation.  (Victoria Whitstone - image credit)
People were able to gather in-person last weekend to attend the powwow at Onion Lake Cree Nation. (Victoria Whitstone - image credit)

Onion Lake Cree Nation was able to host a powwow this past weekend thanks to the recent lifting of health restrictions in Saskatchewan.

"They're all hungry for dance on Mother Earth, they're just starving for the movement," said Howie Thomson, the MC for the powwow.

Thomson said the energy at Onion Lake was phenomenal and that in-person powwows are different from the ones held online.

"It's not the same because they don't have that crowd energy, that cheering, it gives the dancers gas," he said.

At Onion Lake, people danced with their families in the crowd, drums were beating and the smell of french fries was in the air.

Restrictions were lifted in the province on July 11. This included the removal of the province-wide mandatory masking order and the size limits placed on public gatherings. Up to 1,200 powwow dancers, their families and community members attended the Onion Lake event.

Thomson said he arrived ready to rock the place and wake up the spirit. He also said after months of not being able to attend powwows, people don't have an excuse not to wear their regalia and dance.

submitted by Howie Thomson
submitted by Howie Thomson

Thomson is a residential school survivor. What stood out to him the most at the powwow was seeing people wear the red dress used to symbolize missing and murdered indigenous women.

"I'm talking about all colours that are missing and murdered just because they are women, it hit home," he said.

WATCH | Around 1,200 people attended the powwow at Onion Lake Cree Nation

Grant Whitstone, another master of ceremonies for the powwow, said he was honoured to be asked to be a part of it. Whitstone travelled all over North America as a powwow singer for Pipestone Creek Singers and eventually got involved in MCing.

At Onion Lake, he called dancers to get ready for the grand entry, invited spectators to come watch and made announcements, along with other tasks.

"You could feel the energy from everyone getting together. Just watching people getting excited to be part of this real energetic event," he said.

Thomson said that when he has the mic, he wants to encourage people to enjoy life. He said people who stayed home missed an unbelievable scene.

"They came in dancing. They showed that they missed this powwow," he said.

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