Heart of the Youth Pow Wow important part of reconciliation in Prince Albert

(L to R) Liz Settee and Janet Carrierre of the Prince Albert Indian Metis Friendship Centre at the Heart of the Youth Sponsorship Appreciation Lunch. Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald.

The Heart of the Youth Pow Wow has become a tradition in Prince Albert since it began in 2018.

The organizers recently hosted a Sponsorship Appreciation Lunch to recognize their organizations and volunteers who support the event, which packs Kinsmen Park each May.

The pow wow is an inclusive gathering that provides youth in Prince Albert and the surrounding communities with an opportunity to engage in the powwow tradition without the pressures of competition.

Elder Liz Settee of the organizing committee said the event was simply a nice way to pay tribute to their numerous sponsors.

“Without the sponsors, we could not pull this together,” she said. “There would be no pow wow without the sponsors. For each and every organization that’s bringing people today, we just want to recognize what they do for not only the youth, but the parents and the community.”

Settee said the Heart of the Youth was created to be an inclusive event. They have now removed gender identifiers from dances, so they were simply shawl, traditional, Jingle or any other type of dance. Settee said this was because everyone is welcome in the circle and has gifts and talents.

Organizers estimated the 2023 event had 4,200 people in attendance. Schools from Prince Albert and area attend the event each year.

Drummers travelled from as far away as Stanley Mission to perform at the event, and Calvary United Church brought guests who were in Prince Albert for a provincial conference.

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald. (L to R) Superintendent Jennifer Hingley, Liz Settee and board chair Darlene Rowden of the Saskatchewan River School Division at the Heart of the Youth Sponsorship Appreciation Lunch.

Committee member Delphine Melchert said hosting the pow wow each year has played a role in reconciliation.

“We certainly see this as an element of reconciliation,” Melchert said.

“Plus, we see it through the eyes of youth, and I think that that’s a really important element. If you’re looking at reconciliation and change and respect, (and) if it comes through the youth, the youth will carry on and bring it forward and changes will happen.”

“(It’s) inward and outward,” Settee added. “We get our knowledge from our ancestors that came before us and we’re passing that knowledge on to the young people so that they in turn can bring it forward. It’s focused on the youth because the goal is to have the youth running this and have the youth … get comfortable at being at the pow wow.

“It might spark their spirit into wanting to dance or wanting to drum. Taking the knowledge that they learned and passing it on maybe to their family at home that couldn’t make or it’s going to have a generational effect.”

The Pow Wow was cancelled in 2020, then went virtual for one year before coming back in person in 2022 and 2023 to growing crowds. Settee and Melchert said it was great to have the energy back in Kinsmen Park so much time away.

“There’s a freedom there (and) you can see it in the youth, just how free they feel, to come and join,” Melchert said. “How many of those youths would never have an opportunity to dance other than the pow wow?”

Melchert added that their goals are to continue to grow as an event. As long as the community is they’re to help, the organizers will make sure it happens again in 2024.

“We do rely on the community. Our goal is to make this a sustainable event,” she said.

Settee encouraged everyone to come out for 2024 and return to Kinsmen Park.

“I think if you didn’t have the chance to come out and check it this year, May 31, 2024, forms are all ready,” Settee said.

Both Melchert and Settee said that it was important to note that the City of Prince Albert is a strong supporter.

The Heart of the Youth Sponsorship Appreciation Lunch was on Sept. 15 and took place at My Place Bistro in the Second Floor Meeting Room.