Virden’s 12th annual powwow last week was a loud and proud display of First Nations’ culture shared with about 900 school children and other attendees.
Lola Thunderchild, an educator at Virden Junior High, has been organizing the event since she held the first one at the school in 2007. It's only been getting bigger and better since moving first to Victoria Park and then to the arena at Tundra Oil & Gas Place.
“The key component,” says Thunderchild, “was to bring exposure to native culture and alleviate stereotyping, which leads to racism.
“Fort La Bosse School Division and Canupawakpa have been in partnership since the ‘60s so we try to maintain a mutual relationship of cultures, so all the students can be successful.”
This year, two drum groups - Woodenface from Whitebear, Sask, and Battling Horse of Canupawakpa Dakota Nation south of Virden - kept the beat for dozens of dancers who travelled in from various communities including Canupawakpa, Birdtail Sioux, Sioux Valley First Nation and Minnesota.
Thunderchild says a new vocal and drum group made up of boys from Canupawakpa also had their debut at the powwow.
On the 2nd level of the arena, a large exhibit of Dakota artifacts curated by Sioux Valley's Eugene Ross was on display. There was also traditional bannock on offer and interactive activities like the moccasin game that brought indigenous and non-indigenous kids together.
Thunderchild says, “Each year, the children get excited for the event, which makes us happy to know we are heading in the right direction.”