The return of the Heart of the Youth Community Powwow brought dancers and drummers from around the province.
The return also brought out a variety of feelings ranging from nerves to competitive fire. For traditional dancers like Leander Morin of Big River First Nation, powwows are special, and he was happy to be back in one.
“It’s a healing celebration ceremony,” Morin said. “At another one of our ceremonies the sweat lodge you go there to heal and go on your own personal journey, figure out who you are and what you need to be healed with. But the powwow that’s something you do after, that’s something you go enjoy yourself with, with your people, with your family.”
In 2021, Heart of the Youth went virtual in an attempt to keep the tradition alive while following COVID-19 protocols, but the 2020 event was completely cancelled. Morin danced at the 2019 event, but after all that time away, he was glad to be back.
“After so long, we need this,” he explained. “We need celebrations. We need activities to bring us together like this after so long of being stuck in our homes and not being around each other. We need this to rebuild our communities back together again.”
Morin said that the powwow was smaller than some he goes to over the summer, but the Heart of the Youth had its own special appeal.
“This is very big. I honestly did not expect this many people to show up, this many people to be dancing and enjoying themselves,” he said. “I’m very happy that it’s happening because this is a lot of people.”
Heart of the Youth hasn’t just been a chance to dance, it’s also a chance to catch up with old friends and meet new people. On Friday, Morin saw a dancer his mother taught in elementary school who also grew up going to powwows. He said it was great to see dancers like that in person again.
“I have seen him dancing, and we danced together at a lot of powwows,” Morin said. “We always say hi to each other and I have a lot of respect for him as a dancer.”
However, seeing the other dancer also brings out Morin’s competitive spirit. One part of his mind is happy to be dancing together, but the other part is competitive.
“When I see him around, I already know it’s going to be a great powwow because while I am dancing there is that little part that says I am dancing against him. That gets me happy as well as dancing with him.
“I know when he is older he is going to be a well known dancer.”
Jingle dance Isabella Peekeekoot of Ahtahkakoop First Nation was happy to be back, but was worried because of the lengthy time off.
“It is pretty different and just hard because I haven’t danced in a while,” she said.
“It’s pretty nice. It’s a nice day to be dancing.”
Still, just being back at an in person powwow was enough for Peekeekoot.
“It’s really nice to be dancing again,” she said. “I love the beat of the drums. Just go along with it as you dance. That’s what I do.”