Rossbrook House has a 35 year history with the traditional pow wow. From the inception of the very first Rossbrook House pow wow to today, it is an annual event that includes community dancers and drummers. And everyone is welcome!
Fifty to seventy adult community-based dancers will take part in this year’s pow wow, as well as several veterans and drum groups. Many community kids will also show up to dance.
In the Spring of 1982, the first Rossbrook House pow wow was created as a thank you to the community for supporting the new alternative elementary school, Wi Wabigooni.
Sister Margaret Hughes (Sisters of Sion) was a volunteer at Eagle Circle who was determined to create Wi Wabigooni, and she did, in 1981. It began as an off-campus school of St. Ignatius Church.
With so many of the school children and Rossbrook House attendees being of First Nation or Métis heritage, it was important for Rossbrook House to create a pow wow of its own. And so, the very first pow wow began in the basement of St Ignatius Church, with a dancers from Wi Wabigooni and taped music played from the cassette player.
Since then, it evolved to include the Junior High School; Eagles’ Circle students, and Rossbrook House attendees. It moved to Rossbrook House and outdoors to the hill across the street. Fifteen years ago, it moved farther down the field and included the protective covering of a tent to inhibit rain outs. And just in the nick of time, as that year it not only rained but hailed!
Sister Margaret is involved to this day, over-seeing practices, organizing the regalia and making sure that pow wow goes off without a hitch! And of course she doesn’t do it alone. Rossbrook House is lucky to have a number of families and individuals who volunteer their time to organize this beautiful event!
Thank you Volunteers! We couldn’t do it without you!
Over the years there have been many people who have helped with pow wow practice, and regalia sewing, and coordination of the event. And we thank each and every one of you!
Patty Mousseau and her family have helped with the organization of the pow wow for many years, including leading practices and organizing community drummers and dancers.
In the early nineties a volunteer, who had been taught to sew his own regalia by his grandmother, helped to make the outfits for the boys and girls. Emil Her Many Horses, an Oglala Lakota from South Dakota, went on to be a curator of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. He is recognized today as an accomplished artist in contemporary bead work.
Rossbrook House supporter and talented seamstress Jeanne Maria Lawrence has also donated home-made outfits for pow wow!
Rossbrook House staff, like Program Manager Kerry Miller, work tirelessly to organize all of the finer details like tent rentals, the barbeque meal, and so much more!
The Vern Gray Award
This year the Rossbrook House group has 28 children dancing, 6 youth helpers and 4 adults as the main teachers. The children who showed up each week to practice, get to select their regalia from a gorgeous variety of outfits. They will also receive the Vern Gray Award for their dedication and love of pow wow.
Vern Gray was an inner city social worker and volunteer board member in the early days of Rossbrook who never missed a pow wow. This award was made in his name to honour his commitment to Rossbrook.
The youth who help each year receive the Vern Gray Showing the Way award.
The Rossbrook House pow wow is rich in history. And as you can see, it takes a community. A supportive, welcoming community.
And Rossbrook House couldn’t be more grateful!