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Pow Wow in Virden

Hundreds of elementary school children and their teachers from schools of Fort La Bosse School Division (FLBSD) attended a Pow Wow on Friday, June 11.

Hundreds of elementary school children and their teachers from schools of Fort La Bosse School Division (FLBSD) attended a Pow Wow on Friday, June 11.

Students, and children from a Virden daycare also filed into Tundra Oil & Gas Place arena, to sit on the floor. An audience, including seniors from Virden, gathered in the stands.

Two large teepees had been set up. Dancers were accompanied by drummers and singers.

In furs, feathers (some dyed brilliant colours), silks, and fancy bead work, dancers exhibited different styles of dance.

Lola Thunderchild, a Virden Junior High educational assistant, organized this well-run event. Virden mayor, Jeff Mc- Connell brought greetings, as did Barry Pitz on behalf of FLBSD.

The Pow Wow dancing peaked with a fast and furious men’s dance, followed later by a dance of women and children.

Members of the audience were invited to join First Nations dancers in a Friendship dance, circling with simple dance steps.

To conclude the afternoon, those in native dress and regalia formed a reception line. School teachers and others moved through the line shaking hands, greeting dancers and even tiny children.

Noella Eagle is a teacher of native culture at Virden Collegiate Institute. Dancing since she could walk, she has danced Fancy, Traditional, and Jingle, but calls herself a Northern Traditional Dancer.

Eagle wore an outfit made by her cousin and gifted to her about 15 years ago. “This is a very old outfit. We try to keep them as clean as we can.” Every five or six years, the fringes are replaced.

Part of her regalia is dentalium seashells. “Actually, this was part of the intertribal trading that took place. Centuries ago, before the Europeans came, the tribes had their own trading system. So we find dentalium on the plains, although they actually come from the ocean.”

Eagle also wore a coral coloured necklace of horse figurines. “I recently got my Masters in Education degree out of Brandon University. This was a gift from my very dear cousin.”

As an educator, Eagle says the Pow Wow promotes understanding.

“It’s very key for our young people to have that respect for each other and our cultures. We do want young children, whether they are aboriginal or non-aboriginal, to experience and understand... who we are as a people. That’s why we do what we do.”

The Pow Wow was hosted by Schools of FLB and Canupawakpa Dakota Nation with support from Manitoba Tourism, Culture, Heritage, Sport and Consumer Protection.