The annual Rossbrook House Pow Wow is not taking place this month.
We have so many great memories from the last (almost) 40 years.
In the early 1980’s Millie Stonechild began to work with a group of students at Eagles’ Circle, sharing teachings and culture. In the process the students began to learn pow wow dancing. The first Rossbrook House Pow Wow was held in 1982 in a church basement with taped music playing on a cassette player. Wi Wabigooni students joined with the Eagles’ Circle dancers for that pow wow.
Sister Margaret Hughes, the teacher at Wi Wabigooni, created the very first Pow Wow as a thank you to the community.
From those beginnings, the involvement grew to include Rossbrook participants and community dancers. In recent years the event has been held outdoors, under a tent, in the field across from Rossbrook House.
The children and youth from Rossbrook House and the schools learn about their Indigenous culture, learn how to Pow Wow dance from experienced dancers, and share their culture with the public.
A new generation…
The participants and students of Rossbrook usually begin practicing in March to be ready for this annual event that happens every May. Practices were led for many years by former student/participant Patty Mainville. Today Patty is a principal and is still involved with Rossbrook House. Her son, Matthew, has taken over Pow Wow practices.
Some of the children and youth are dancing in their very first Pow Wow. Others, like Drayton Perrault, are a little more experienced.
“I dance because it’s part of my culture. I love to dance. It gives me a chance to express myself,” Drayton said.
Drayton has been Pow Wow dancing for years. He learned from watching others dance and through a variety of Pow Wow clubs. “He dances with his heart,” his mother Shannon Allard said.
“Dancing represents me and my family,” he said. “I like getting ready for the Pow Wow with my friends at Rossbrook.”
Pow Wow dance also shows Drayton how to be a leader. It instills confidence and knowledge about his culture.
Drayton’s regalia is his own creation, his vision, and was made for him by his mother.
The regalia usually worn by many of the Rossbrook dancers are a part of the legacy of the Rossbrook House Pow Wow, worn for generations of children and youth. They were first crafted by the students of Wi Wabogooni and a volunteer named Emil Her Many Horses, an Oglala Lakota from South Dakota.
The Rossbrook House participants learn to bead and make accessories for their outfits.
Fifty to seventy adult community dancers usually take part, as well as several veterans and a number of drum groups. Many community and city leaders lead the dancers in the Grand Entry.
It’s a spectacular event.
We look forward to sharing the power of this beautiful dance, and the Indigenous culture of so many of the Rossbrook House participants and students once again at a future time.