Heart of the Youth Pow Wow continues to grow in size

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald A Fancy Shawl Dance was just a part of the Heart of the Youth Community Pow Wow on Friday in Kinsmen Park.

The Heart of the Youth Community Pow Wow just keeps growing and the visitors keep expanding in scope.
The annual event returned to Kinsmen Park on Friday afternoon. Organizing committee member Nicole Matheis of Communities Building Youth Futures Prince Albert (CBYFPA) said it’s great to see the continued increase in numbers.
“The first Heart of the Youth Community Powwow was in 2017 and honestly it’s just grown in size and capacity in community members and schools attending. It’s amazing to see how much it has grown over the years,” Matheis said.
“Last year we had over 4,000 and we’re expecting the same this year. We’re so excited to be able to have so many people from the schools, Catholic School division, South River School division, as well as just community members stop in and be able to take part in this
community event.”
Matheis said one of the most important parts of the Pow Wow was that it was an act of reconciliation.
“We always say that reconciliation is at the heart of what we (CBYFA) do and this is a true display of reconciliation in the community of Prince Albert,” she explained. “We have everyone from all walks of life being here today. We’re just so thankful we’re able to put on
this event for everyone.”
Students from schools in the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division, Northern Lights School Division and Prince Albert Catholic School Division, among others attended Friday’s event.
Matheis said it’s amazing to see the community come together to make the event happen.
“We couldn’t do it without our sponsors,” she said. “We couldn’t do it without the committee. We couldn’t do it without the youth, so seeing it all come together on the last Friday of every May, it’s just incredible.”
This year there were also youth in attendance from Big River and Spruce Home, among other communities.
Heart of the Youth has several aims, but one of the biggest is helping First Nations and Metis youth get in touch with their culture.
“We always say that youth are our future and this event highlights the opportunity for youth
to connect with culture when maybe they haven’t before,” she added. “Youth from all over the Community, urban youth, and youth from outside of the community can come and dance in this powwow whether they have Regalia or not.”
The day began with a Grand Entry and speeches from PAGC Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte, Prince Albert Mayor Greg Dionne, Deputy Police Chief Farica Prince and several representatives from new sponsor TD Canada.
The day landed on the birthday of committee member Elder Liz Settee who had ‘Happy Birthday’ sung to her by the crowd before she received gifts from the committee.
“We were glad we were able to honour her after the grand entry,” Matheis said. “I know she means so much to so many of the children here, and they mean so much to her.”

They have now removed gender identifiers from dances, so they were simply shawl, traditional, Jingle or any other type of dance.
“We categorize this as a Two Spirit powwow where we’ve taken the gender titles out of all
the dance categories, so anyone can dance in any category they feel comfortable in,” Matheis said.
“We have a fancy shawl, jingle, traditional, we have a chicken dancer who’s here. We’ll have some dancers at lunch,” she added.
The biggest change year over year is the size according to Matheis.
“Every year we find that more and more people hear about it. More and more people are coming communities from outside of Prince Albert have been coming more and more throughout the years,” she said.
Matheis hopes to see the Pow Wow get bigger and become even more inclusive next year.