How To Have Your First Pow Wow Revel in in Ontario

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As any person dwelling on Turtle Island (what the Indigenous confer with because the continent of North The united states), we will have to have a greater working out of the land that we are on, and what higher solution to make this connection than through having your first pow wow revel in in Canada?

On this information, we’re going to dive into our stories on the Lawn River First Country Pow Wow in Sault Ste. Marie which used to be a part of our weekend travel to town curious about Indigenous stories. Via our first pow wow in Ontario, you’ll be able to get a excellent sense of what to anticipate.

Trace: It used to be superb!

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What’s a Pow Wow?

what is a pow wow demonstrated by this garden river pow wow grounds in sault ste marie ontario

Pow wows are particular occasions that grasp cultural importance as a result of it is the most important neighborhood collecting of First International locations to rejoice their wealthy ancestral historical past.

It is a collecting that is supposed to ignite your spirit and rejoice Indigenous arts, tradition, and tune with everybody that attends. It is sacred and is a spot of therapeutic as smartly.

As celebrations of Indigenous tradition, the development is deeply rooted in proceeding to hold on custom whether or not it’s thru dance, tale, and rite.

There used to be a time now not too way back when pow wows were not allowed and it used to be if truth be told unlawful for the First International locations to follow spiritual ceremonies, reminiscent of pow wows, in Canada. With reconciliation, it’s now allowed to commemorate, honour, and stay in Indigenous traditions.

Are pow wows in Canada open to everybody?

Sure, opposite to what you may suppose, any person can attend pow wows whether or not you are a native, traveller, Indigenous, or non-Indigenous.

First Pow Wow in Ontario – Sault Ste. Marie

agawa rock pictographs are one of the indigenous  experiences in sault ste marie ontario
Agawa Rock Pictographs in Sault Ste. Marie

To supply slightly of context, this summer time, we have been taking a look to extend our Indigenous consciousness, working out, and schooling in our house province of Ontario.

We seemed in every single place for the place lets cross and have been on the lookout for the next issues:

  • A lot of Indigenous-based companies, websites, and actions in shut proximity to each other.
  • Indigenous-owned companies that might be offering guided and academic stories for first timers.
  • Drivable from Toronto.

It turned into transparent in our analysis that Sault Ste. Marie checked all of those containers. Be sure to check out the unbelievable process town’s performed with growing Indigenous tourism. There are many concepts of the way you’ll be able to be informed extra about Indigenous tradition together with attending your first pow wow in Canada.

This is how we ended up construction a whole prolonged weekend travel to The Soo and landed on 11 of the most productive issues to do in Sault Ste. Marie, which integrated attending our first pow wow.

Making Your First Pow Wow Revel in Simple

thrive tours honour song in how to powwow tour

As a primary time attendee of a pow wow in Canada, I am certain you’ve gotten the similar apprehensions as we did.

How are you aware what to do and what to not do? How does a pow wow paintings? The place are we allowed to face? Are we able to take photos? Will I do know what is going down all the way through the pow wow? Are we allowed to head within the circle to bounce?

Those have been all questions that we had and we have been so grateful to be on a Be informed How To Pow Wow revel in with an Indigenous-owed excursion corporate, Thrive Excursions in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario all the way through the Lawn River Pow Wow.

I extremely counsel that you simply search for an area Indigenous excursion (if to be had) to lead you throughout the pow wow. It is not necessary however it indisputably is helping.

So far as we all know, Thrive Excursions is likely one of the few Indigenous-owned excursion operators that has a pow wow-specific providing.

What to Be expecting with Your First Pow Wow

tracy cleland fancy shawl dancer at garden river pow wow with her full regalia

Your first pow wow might be unbelievable, treasured, awe-inspiring, and overwhelming, all on the similar time. To lend a hand set the appropriate expectancies, the under is a chronological structure of the way a pow wow works.

One thing to bear in mind is that each pow wow is other and so we are coming at this from the lens of our revel in with Thrive Excursions on the Lawn River Pow Wow in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

This can be a pow wow that happened in mid-August within the Lawn River First Country Reserve and at the grounds of the baseball box.

Once more, the function of this information is to provide you with an concept of what to anticipate along with your first pow wow so to cross with self belief.

Finding out how one can pow wow

smudging ceremony with thrive tours at garden river powwow

The primary a part of your pow wow revel in will have to be about schooling and working out. With Thrive Excursions, you’ll be able to be informed the historical past of the Indigenous other folks and not unusual customs.

From there, you’ll be able to get a briefing of the way the pow wow works and likewise the correct pow wow etiquette.

Pow wow etiquette

  • Be respectful.
  • Conventional get dressed worn at a pow wow together with the dancers is named regalia.
    • It could now not be respectful to invite to take a photograph with regalia.
    • Ask for permission to the touch or take footage of regalia.
  • Ask sooner than taking a photograph of particular person dancers.
  • Workforce footage and footage of dancers within the circle is allowed as a result of your excursion information has requested the pow wow committee for permission. In case you are by yourself, it is a good suggestion to invite the committee for permission to wait.
  • Get dressed modestly.
  • Do not sit down in marked spaces or chairs/benches which were reserved with any person else’s blanket.
  • No medication, alcohol, or pets.
  • Grand Access can’t be photographed or filmed.
  • Stand and take away your hat all the way through Grand Access.
  • Pay attention to the Grasp of Ceremonies for directions particularly with regards to who’s dancing and when.
  • Do not pick out up any eagle feathers that fall, as this represents a fallen warrior and calls for particular rite.

You can additionally be informed concerning the importance of the drum. The usage of the grandmother drum, Brad and Amanda from Thrive Excursions will sing an honour track for the gang.

Following that, they are going to carry out a smudging rite. This can be a conventional cleaning ritual the place both cedar, tobacco, or sage is burned overtop a shell to create smoke.

With a transparent thoughts, the smoke is carried in opposition to you along with your palms and arms as some way of gaining coverage, blessing, and purify the frame and soul, whilst additionally repelling destructive power.

A must-do for first-timers

It makes a distinction as a way to revel in your first pow wow through being below any person else’s wing. If you will a pow wow in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, ensure that to take a look at Thrive Excursions and their sparkling opinions.

Honouring the sacred fireplace

Prior to heading to pow wow circle, you are going to make a prevent to the sacred fireplace. This can be a ceremonial fireplace that is lit sooner than the beginning of the pow wow and burns ceaselessly till its finish. Its flame is tended to through one or a number of fireplace keepers.

On the Lawn River Pow Wow, we adopted our guides to the sacred fireplace that used to be burning within a teepee. Outdoor, we greeted the fireplace keepers and made our manner within.

There may be usually a bowl of tobacco through the fireplace. You are going to pull the straws of tobacco and cup them along with your left hand. Stroll across the sacred fireplace in clockwise route, and with an honouring idea, you free up the tobacco into the fireplace and say chi-miigwech, that means “thanks very a lot”.

Grand Access

To kick off the pow wow, Grand Access is the outlet ceremonies. That is carried out each day of the pow wow.

Separately, the manager, Eagle Group of workers carriers from more than a few First Country communities, Flag Carriers representing particular reasons, adopted through dancers, are introduced and stroll into the circle to the access track.

With the Grasp of Ceremonies MC-ing, you’ll be able to revel in the real heartbeat of the pow wow with their thunderous beat and unbelievable vary of making a song.

To near the rite, a flag track is performed through a drum team and a procession of flags are positioned and the place they keep in place in the course of the pow wow.

All over Grand Access, you’ll be able to be requested to face, take off your hat, and chorus from taking footage and movies.


island times drum group at garden river powwow

The drum teams are on the very core of the pow wow and a unifying characteristic. This is why they play an overly important function and are held in top regard.

Pow wows usually have a couple of drum teams and in our case, there have been 3 – Undergo Creek, Island Occasions, and First Country. Each and every team takes its flip appearing songs for the pow wow, whether or not it’s for Grand Access, particular kinds of dance, honour or therapeutic songs, and intertribal dance.

With 5 or extra drummers sitting round a big grandfather drum, they strike the drum in combination and sing a track.

You can realize that there’s usually a lead singer that begins the track above the synchronous voices of the entire team. Because the track is going on, the main making a song rotates round in clockwise route which you’ll be able to inform through their upper pitched notes.

Intertribal Dance

intertribal dance at garden river pow wow

What you’ll be able to love concerning the pow wow is that now not simplest is the circle for the dancers competing for prizes however it is also for everybody there.

Proper after Grand Access and during the pow wow, the MC will announce the intertribal dance. That is the place any person from each background is invited to enter the circle and dance.

Getting in once more, clockwise route, you are able to strut your strikes to the beat of the drumming. Whilst there is not any judgement within the circle, most of the people will do their best possible 1-2 step.

It is tougher than it appears to be like!

Relying on how coordinated you might be, you are able to do the step and faucet strikes comfortably or in case you are like me, your ft gets out of rhythm in a flash. It is tougher than it appears to be like!

On the Lawn River Pow Wow, additionally they had a lot of spot dances. That is an intertribal dance the place as soon as the drumming stops, everybody remains of their spot and they have got any person stroll round to pick out the winner of a prize (usually financial).


All through the pow wow, you’ll be able to watch and really feel the power and beat of the dancers that input into the circle.

There are more than a few kinds of dances that you’ll be able to see – conventional, fancy, grass, and jingle. Each and every age team gets their flip to sing their own praises their talent and athleticism starting from junior boys and girls to golden age women and men.

garden river first nation powwow poster

In case you have a look the Lawn River Pow Wow poster, you’ll be able to see that there is a prize for the winners of the dance teams so it’s indisputably aggressive. Winners are introduced close to the top of the pow wow.

All over this core a part of the pow wow, you’ll be able to be unfastened to look at from any place within the circle, whether or not it is discovering an empty seat at the benches, at the grass, or status.

Your Thrive Excursion guides are to be had to questions all the way through this time however you’ll be able to even be unfastened to roam.

Assembly Dancers

meeting tracy cleland at garden river powwow a fancy shawl dancer

As your first pow wow revel in, it’s going to be a little bit formidable to manner dancers to mention hi and ask questions. That is the place Thrive Excursions are available in.

Since they know lots of the neighborhood individuals, they’re going to be capable of attach you with them in case you had any questions or simply sought after to talk.

From our revel in, everyone seems to be extremely pleasant and prepared to percentage.

Out of appreciate, there may be the Indigenous customized of providing tobacco, referred to as Semma, in a pouch in alternate for teachings and data that you would like to be informed. It is the thought of giving one thing to obtain one thing. In our case, we reward tobacco to recognize that the knowledge of our elders is a sacred alternate.

We had the chance to talk to probably the most Fancy Scarf dancers and with Thrive Excursions with us, that they had the tobacco reward able and fortuitously for us, she authorized.

All over our time along with her, she informed us her tale of the way she’s been dancing since she used to be 2 and used to be sort sufficient to head thru how her present regalia got here in combination over time.

Meals and distributors

garden river pow wow food vendor set up with tented eating area

With pow wows simply lasting from 1PM to 6PM or longer, you’ll be able to in finding your abdomen growling in the future.

Each and every pow wow is ready up another way however on the Lawn River Pow Wow, that they had meals stations arrange at the outdoor of the circle.

There are usually a lot of native meals stalls serving a mixture of primary dishes, dessert, and beverages.

chiblow fish food stall at garden river powwow

We had the chance to consume at Chiblow Fish and had their extremely recent and flavourful fish & chips (pickerel barbecue). It is run through Bob Chiblow, who additionally occurs to be the Leader of the Missisaugi First Country.

There are many choices to make a choice from and there are tables arrange out within the open for consuming.

TIP: Come ready with money as just a restricted choice of distributors settle for bank card. This additionally implies that they do not factor receipts both.

Across the pow wow are usually native distributors as smartly. That is your probability to fortify native artisans and companies. Each pow wow is other however anticipate finding a spread of conventional tools, clothes, drums, portray, jewellery, and extra.

Retiring of the Flags

To near out the pow wow, there may be the overall rite referred to as the Retiring of the Flags. That is when each and every of the flags flying all the way through all the tournament are taken down through their respective flag carriers one by one.

As a part of this last, there may be usually a give-away track the place presents are given to the neighborhood and everybody has an opportunity to take one thing house. At this level, members will be able to shake arms with the pow wow committee, dignitaries, and different individuals to mention chi-miigwech.

On the very finish, there is a travelling track to hope everybody a protected adventure house.

Best possible Tricks to Pow Wow in Canada Like a Professional

close up of a pow wow drum group

With the following pointers, you are able to cross on your first pow wow and feature an important revel in.

1. Do not omit Grand Access – That is the most important rite that showcases all the vital other folks in the back of the pow wow and the colourful colors of all of the regalia.

2. Ask for permission – When doubtful, ask permission to take a photograph or video of awe-inspiring regalia. In case you are fortunate sufficient to wait a pow wow with a information, do not be afraid to invite them what you are allowed to do.

3. Carry money – Likelihood is that, lots of the meals stalls and distributors may not take bank card so be sure you convey sufficient money. Purchasing a meal, distinctive crafts, or raffle tickets may be a good way to fortify the Indigenous neighborhood. Additionally, take a look at to look if there may be an attendance rate.

4. It will get scorching – Pow wows are in most cases in the summertime and out of doors. Except you are fortunate sufficient to sit down below a cover tent, you’ll be able to be baking below the solar so be sure you practice and re-apply sunscreen, put on a wide-brimmed hat like a Tilley Airflo LTM6, and put on an Arc’teryx solar hoody. Keep hydrated with a variety of water for your Hydroflask bottle.

5. Carry your individual chairs – If you wish to be sure you ensure your individual seat, convey a tremendous moveable tenting chair.

6. You’ll be able to come and cross – Whether or not your pow wow is a couple of days or you are simply there for one, do not really feel the wish to keep all the time. It is a lengthy day and the summer time warmth will make issues difficult so each time you’re feeling like you are prepared, you’ll be able to head out. You’ll be able to additionally depart and are available again later within the day or weekend.

7. Move with a information – You will not be able to do that at each pow wow however if you find yourself going to 1 in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, glance up Thrive Excursions and do their “Be informed How To Pow Wow” revel in. It’s going to make your first pow wow revel in really easy.


In case you are making plans a highway travel to the Soo and you are doing probably the most pow wows there, remember to atone for the opposite Indigenous and out of doors sights that you’ll be able to come with for your itinerary.

11 Implausible Issues to Do in Sault Ste. Marie

The place Can You Move To Pow Wows in Canada?

how to have your first pow wow experience at garden river first nation

There are pow wows in Canada once a year and the First International locations that experience them and their dates exchange so it is best to seek the advice of a couple of calendars to look the place you’ll be able to cross to revel in your first pow wow.

Nationwide Calendars

Pow wows through Province and Territory in Canada

The above is under no circumstances a radical record, however is a smart position to begin your seek.

TIP: We have now discovered that almost all lists of pow wow occasions don’t seem to be whole and so we propose that you simply take a look at a couple of sources indexed under and likewise Google as a result of many First International locations do not advertise outdoor of their very own web sites and Fb teams.

Regularly Requested Questions

Are you allowed to take photos and movies all the way through a pow wow?

You don’t seem to be allowed to take photos/movies of the sacred fireplace at anytime and likewise all the way through Grand Access or some other a part of the pow wow that the Grasp of Ceremonies particularly says to not.

Will have to it’s powwow or pow wow?

Each are used and you’ll be able to confer with it in both manner.

Are pow wows unfastened to wait?

The vast majority of pow wows are unfastened on the other hand there are some that do fee an admission rate for the day.

What number of days are pow wows?

Pow wows can vary from 1 day to a complete weekend (Friday to Sunday).

Are you able to fly a drone all the way through a pow wow?

In order for you to fly a drone, you are going to require particular permissions from the pow wow committee and the Leader. Thrive Excursions can lend a hand with this if that is one thing you’ll love to do.

The place is the most productive position to wait a pow wow?

Sault Ste. Marie is a smart position to look a pow wow as a result of you’ll be able to sign up for an schooling revel in with Thrive Excursions which can make your seek advice from relaxed, you’ll be able to know about what you are seeing, and you are able to connect to the locals in the neighborhood.

What you will have to learn subsequent

How To Have Your First Pow Wow Experience in Ontario

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