The grandma of the powwows returns with a welcome touch
WIIKWEMKOONG—The Wiikwemkoong Cultural Festival (aka the Wiikwemkoong Powwow) typically hosts a competitive powwow (known as the grandma of all powwows) as well as a host of cultural events and entertainment. learning opportunities. But in the spirit of welcoming visitors, dancers, drummers and vendors back to Thunderbird Park (Nimkii Bineshi Kaaning), this year admission is free and instead of competing for first, second and third prize, dancers and singers will each receive an honorarium.
The festival kicks off this Friday, July 29 with a welcome party hosted by the Wikwemikong Lands and Natural Resources Department which will include entertainment and a feast. Social activity aims to welcome vendors and powwow attendees to the powwow grounds at 9A Complex Drive in Wiikwemkoong, Wiikwemkoong Cultural Festival offers an amazing weekend of events and activities for all ages.
“The 2nd Annual Toke-ba Pre-Powwow Woodland Special is being prepared for Friday at the Wiikwemkoong Powwow grounds from 6-8 p.m.,” said Sheena Wassegijig, cultural events coordinator for the Wiikwemkoong Heritage Organization. The event calls on all dancers and scrubbers of the woods, with first, second and third place prizes and a small giveaway for attendees. “Classes of old-fashioned wood and brush of all ages are welcome. Snake Island Singers will host the specials.
The Mrs. Wiikwemkoong pageant also takes place on Fridays from 4-8pm, with Little Miss, ages 5-9; Miss Junior, from 10 to 14 years old; and Ms. Wiikwemkoong, ages 15-25 (with some exceptions) and the Brave category, ages 5-17 (also with some exceptions). The competition will include a dance competition, an interview and public speaking by the contestants. The winners will be presented around 10 a.m. on Saturday. Contact Tracy Cleland for details at 705-859-3016.
The host drum for the weekend will be Blackstone Singers and guest drums include Wassnodin Juniors as well as Snake Island Singers and Drum Split. The drums are sponsored by the Chase the Ace fundraising committee.
Master of Ceremonies duties will be shared by Ruben Little Head and Allan Manitowabi, David Trudeau will assume the duties of Arena Manager, U.S. Navy Veteran Wayne Pitawanakwat will be in charge of Veterans Leader duties. Sheldon Sundown will lead vocals for Smoke Dance, while Gerry Kaboni and Linda Eshkawkogan will serve as the weekend’s main seniors. Teresa and Darren McGregor will serve as female and male head dancers, respectively.
The powwow itself will see a grand entrance take place at 12 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday and 12 p.m. on Sunday.
There will be a wide variety of activities, including Fraggle Rock’s incredible DerRic Starlight and his puppets on Saturday, July 30 from 2:30-4 p.m. at the Cultural Pavilion and 5:30-6:30 p.m. on the Main Stage. Comedian, voice actor, director, author and professional wrestling promoter, Mr. Starlight is an aboriginal puppeteer whose passion for the art has only grown since he began performing for his nokomis in western Canada as a child.
A traditional men’s and women’s special, sponsored by Henry Eshkibok, will take place on Saturday and a drum call special sponsored by fundraising group Chase the Ace will take place on Saturday and Sunday. The Adult and Senior Special, also sponsored by fundraising group Chase the Ace Wikwemikong, will also take place on Saturday and Sunday. A Woodland committee special takes place on Saturday.
The Boys Grass 14 and Under Youth Special, sponsored by Pahquis Trudeau, will take place on Saturday and the Men’s and Women’s Smoke Dance Committee Special by fundraising group Chase the Ace Wikwemikong will take place on Saturday. and Sunday.
Buzwah Variety is sponsoring the Boys and Girls Teens Woodland Special Saturday and Sunday.
The Master of Ceremonies Special is sponsored by Wikwemikong Prevention Services on Sunday, as is a special Koogaanasawin “Caregiver Role” (Honor Song).
The Auntie—Niece Three Generation special will be held in memory of Helena Trudeau by Alanna, Tara and Niibishens Trudeau on Sunday and a Spectator Dance special hosted by Wikwemikong Tourism.
As the powwow unfolds, there will be plenty to see at the Cultural Pavilion with historical information workshops and drumming demonstrations. APTN cameras will be rolling throughout the weekend to capture vendors for one of their upcoming specials.