This year’s Peace River Powwow and Aboriginal Gathering took place on June 22 and 23 at the Peace River Agricultural Grounds in Northern Sunrise County.
The 16th annual powwow and 24th Aboriginal Gathering was scheduled for June 33, but the organizers rescheduled the event due to hosting Paddle Prairie wildfire evacuees in Peace River at that time.
While the change in date resulted in some dancers and drummers being unable to attend the rescheduled event, the Aboriginal Interagency Committee who organize the annual powwow were rewarded for their sacrifice as both days of the event were blessed with sunshine, while most of the surrounding areas experienced rain.
Two Grand Entry parades took place on Saturday at 1pm and 7pm and one on Sunday at 1pm.
Representatives from municipalities in the region took part in the first Grand Entry including Mayor of Peace River, Tom Tarpey, Reeve of Northern Sunrise County, Carolyn Kolebaba, and members of County of Northern Lights and Grimshaw Council.
Todd Loewen, MLA for Central Peace-Notley participated in the Saturday evening Grand Entry.
Many of the municipal representatives had committed to attending the entire two-day event but the change in schedule conflicted with other commitments.
However, another positive outcome to the change in schedule is that the powwow and gathering happened on the same weekend as the dedication of a Treaty 8 monument in Riverside Park marking the 120th anniversary of the signing of one of the 12 adhesions to Treaty 8 at Peace River Landing on July 1, 1899.
The dedication of the Treaty-Eight bronze monument in Riverside Park on Friday saw the permanent raising of the Métis and Treaty-Eight flags at the park and served as a fitting opening ceremony to Peace River Pow Wow weekend 2019.
Treaty 8, incorporates a land area of 840,000 square kilometers that includes northern Alberta, northeastern British Columbia, northwestern Saskatchewan and the southern area of the Northwest Territories.
Edmonton based traditional dancer and storyteller Adrian LaChance who is from James Smith Cree Nation in Saskatchewan, emceed the event, which featured dancing and drumming contests with cash prizes in categories ranging from 55-plus to youth 6 to sixteen as well as the “tiny tots” class.
The powwow also presented Metis jigging and fiddle contests, Indigenous hand games, craft tables, food vendors and a free bannock and stew supper late afternoon on Saturday. Free onsite camping was also available at the Agricultural Grounds.
B.C. Métis Federation cultural facilitator, Beverly Lambert, coordinated the Métis dancing and fiddle events.
Like many annual events, no sooner was this year’s successful powwow over when planning and finding sponsors began for next year’s event, scheduled for June 6, 2020.