June 14th, 2024

Pow Wow returns to Lethbridge after hiatus due to COVID-19

By Lethbridge Herald on February 21, 2022.

Herald photo by Dale Woodard Flag bearers, the honour guard, head dancers and dignitaries make their way onto the floor of the Enmax Centre at the grand entry of the International Peace Pow Wow and Festival Saturday afternoon.

Dale Woodard
Lethbridge Herald

After a year away, the International Peace Pow Wow and Festival returned to the Enmax Centre last weekend.

The COVID-19 pandemic cancelled last year’s event, but on Saturday and Sunday the dancing, drumming, celebrations and colourful dress took the floor, giving attendees a glimpse into traditional regalia, music and art.

“Since COVID we actually haven’t been performing or running this event,” said Fee Marule-McLean, event coordinator for the International Peace Pow Wow. “Our last one was right before the pandemic happened, so we couldn’t do it the year after that.”

But last weekend, the much-needed International Peace Pow Wow returned to the Enmax Centre.

While most of the crowd took in the grand entry and the music and spectacle it provided, vendors with a variety of crafts were also set up in the concourse to allow for a little shopping.

“We decided to do it because we really needed that togetherness and that celebration,” said Marule-McLean. “It’s been a long time for a lot of these dancers and these drummers and announcers.”

The decision to go ahead with this year’s International Peace Pow Wow was made Feb. 1.

“So we had two or three weeks to get everything together and we did it,” said Marule-McLean. “We worked with the Enmax for some time, so it was nice to see everyone again. We were so excited because this is the first in-person Pow Wow for us. So we’re all really excited. We were really happy to hear the concessions for food was lifted, because it’s no Pow Wow without food, right?”

A second grand entry was held Saturday night.

“There will be judging of dancers and drummers,” said Marule-McLean. “There will be a Blackfoot naming ceremony at the supper break with our new mayor, Blaine Hyggen. We’ll have a naming ceremony so everyone can see how that goes.”

The weekend also included the crowning of Miss Blackfoot Canada 2022 with Kyreese Mountain Horse, 2020 Miss Blackfoot Canada, handing over the honour.

Mountain Horse also performed a Chicken Dance special.

Marule-McLean said even more dancers came in for Saturday night’s grand entry.

“When you see it, you just can’t believe how beautiful it is,” she said of the event that has been taking place for over 20 years. “The Blackfoot Confederacy, our culture and our dancing, it’s a beautiful thing. It lets other people who don’t know about it, learn about it. The culture, language and traditions are important to our people. So to see this and see all these people here right now is a beautiful thing to see.”

In continuing to follow provincial COVID protocol, the Enmax Centre was set to half capacity 2,500 for the International Peace Pow Wow.

“If we could get 2,500, that would be awesome,” said Marule-McLean. “But 2,000 would be great. What we have now has been a great turnout.”

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