Behind me children of nationalities across the world watched a tradition that I could confidently call something born of Canada and the land the country itself was born from. As nation we like to describe Canada as a patchwork of nationalities, which ultimately means we have a hard time defining ourselves. What is a Canadian? What it does mean to come from Canada and live within it? We call ourselves peacekeepers, environmentalists and liberal thinkers for the most part. And yet we just as easily contradict those ideal images. For example our suppression and continued stubborn misunderstanding of the unique nations within our own, which we arrogantly clutter under three names, if that. Often we only use one set of words that mean the same thing but are deemed more or less politically correct: Aboriginals, First Nation Peoples, Natives, Indians.
I’m glad these nations haven’t given up trying to share their individuality and gifts.
The most fascinating thing about the regalia of these dancers is the fact that in one way or another they tell a tale. Either they speak about the dancer’s progression, or their heritage, family or style. With each experience before these dancers I’m surprised to learn about the background of a detail I’d missed before.
I was told once that the bells on the ankles of the traditional male dancers are used to judge how well they dance. The bells chime into the dancer’s rhythm and display how well the dancer’s movement follow the drum circle’s rhythm. At the same time the dancer’s goal is to make the feathers on the top of his head move as much as possible.Some of the First Nations in Canada view the feathers as battling warriors. You can see the two feathers topping this grass dancer’s regalia.
If you want to learn more about each dance I speak about them in my post on the tiny tot pow wow I attended at my university.