Aboriginal Day (Men): June 21

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. Continue reading “Aboriginal Day (Men): June 21”

National Aboriginal Day: June 21

The first time I saw men and women performing traditional dances in aboriginal regalia was at a tiny tot pow wow hosted in the gymnasium of my university. The event was a celebration of children. When the dancers first entered the gymnasium floor they danced in a wide circle, “flattening the grass” of the dancing area as their ancestors did before them. Then the different categories of dancers proceeded to astound and delight with light and sure feet. Like the deer, birds and butterflies they mimicked the dancers swiftly pranced and ducked. But they had nowhere to go in that gymnasium, no sun and sky to embrace so they circled and stayed close to the ground.

This time I was witnessing the dances in a small school theatre and the dancers seemed even more out of place than the gymnasium. The fancy shawl dancers twirling and fluttering like butterflies seemed caged in the confides of the stage.

Originally the dancers were to be hosted outside a school called Griffin Park, but rain drove them indoors to save their delicate regalia.  Continue reading “National Aboriginal Day: June 21”

Tiny Tot Powwow: Women

My camera bag lay beside my feet with its cover loosely closed. Though entranced by the display of vibrancy and energy before me I was still conscious enough of my immediate surroundings to tuck me bag under my legs as an elder woman was helped to her seat beside me. I was at ground floor and had witnessed a number of people troubled by the first giant step of the bleachers. Women had to lift their dresses and children had to practically climb up. It was no surprise that this elder woman had decided to sit at the bottom. As she settled in I was struck by the contrast of her quiet character with the boisterous strength of voices and drums ringing through the gym. The sight of her stillness compared to the flashing, twirling, ducking and leaping fabric and feathers on the dance circle. I felt a sense of calm within her small frame beside me. Continue reading “Tiny Tot Powwow: Women”

Tiny Tot Powwow Men

Ducking and swaying the dancers exuded the characters of hunter and prey. Stepping lightly through an invisible forest or softly across the prairie grass they circled each other, conveying heightened awareness and the power of instinct. Beside the three dancers, alone in the circle, a child reached the edge of the floor. Watching his elder brethren for a moment, he too began to feel the music. Lost in the drums he dipped and spun. Continue reading “Tiny Tot Powwow Men”

International Days Showcase: Kamloops

Chasing after the flag parade I dashed into the gym ahead of the line of flag bearers, skidding to a stop for a few seconds as I beheld the crowd. The showcase had only just begun, but already the Thompson Rivers University (TRU) gymnasium was filled to the rafters with people. The flag bearers had to push through the crowd to complete their route.

Continue reading “International Days Showcase: Kamloops”

Idle No More Round Dance

Like a heartbeat pushed to exertion. That’s what it sounded like. That moment after a long run where your breathing slows and from the quiet emerges your heartbeat pounding in your ears. The air seemed to breathe. The Sun out in all its glory gave warmth to the sky. The voices, intertwined with each other and empowered by numbers, followed the sunbeams into the blue. Thanks went to the Creator. Welcome to all and everything spread in every direction: east to the Creator, south to meet ourselves, west to meet family, friends and neighbors, and north to meet the elders’ wisdom. Continue reading “Idle No More Round Dance”