First powwow a ‘reclamation’ of Indigenous education for school board in Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon

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Published May 28, 2024 at 4:23 pm

u of t mississauga powwow
The Peel District School board will host its first powwow on May 31, 2024. (Photo: Ron Graham-Becker)

Dancers, educators, vendors and more are preparing for the Peel school district’s first-ever community powwow with an invitation open to everyone in Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon.

It will be the inaugural event for what Indigenous educators hope will be many more community powwows featuring dozens of vendors, registered dancers and traditional ceremonies in celebration of First Nations, Metis and Inuit culture.

“It’s a time for us to honour our heritage and our traditions through dance and song and ceremony,” said Nicole Reynolds, Coordinating Vice-Principal of Indigenous Education at PDSB. “Powwows are inclusive of everybody, so both Indigenous and non-Indigenous folks can attend.”

With the theme of Honouring Our Youth, the day-long powwow runs on Friday and will feature traditional Anishinaabe dancers Tim McGregor and Kim Wheatly as Head Dancers, with host drums played by All Nations Jr., Charging Horse and Crazy Nation Singers.

Reynolds said there’s a deep significance to a school board hosting a powwow given Canada’s Residential School system which saw the forced assimilation of Indigenous Peoples by the federal government which has caused intergenerational harm to First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, their families, and communities.

“To us, on the Indigenous Education team, this powwow is an act of reclamation and resurgence of our identity, of our traditions, and who we are as First Nations, Metis and Inuit,” Reynolds said.

The event will also mark the first time the board’s Maawnjiding Wiigushkeng Centre for Indigenous Excellence and Land Based Learning will be accessible to the public since it opened in 2022 as a resource for teachers and students to learn more about Indigenous histories, ways of knowing, and understanding.

“It’s a great introduction to what we do here at the centre and hopefully (the powwow) will spark more opportunities to be able to share our culture,” Reynolds said.

The morning portion of the event will be for students from select PDSB schools but will open to the general public at 1:30 p.m. with free admission.

The PDSB’s inaugural powwow is this Friday at the Maawnjiding Wiigushkeng Centre for Indigenous Excellence and Land Based Learning, located at 13990 Mississauga Rd. The event opens to the public at 1:30 p.m. and will run until 8:00 p.m.

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