ASAY holds third annual Aboriginal Awareness Day and Powwow


The Aboriginal Students’ Association at York (ASAY) will present its third annual Aboriginal Awareness Day and Traditional Powwow on Friday and Saturday at York’s Keele campus. The theme for this year’s event is “Honouring our Educators: Past, Present, and Future.”

Right: Dancer performs at 2002 ASAY Pow Wow

The Aboriginal Awareness Day events will begin Friday, March 4, with a roundtable panel discussion in room 140, Health, Nursing & Environmental Studies Building, from 10am to noon. Speakers include Barbara Riley, Anishinaabe elder and professor emeritus from Laurentian University, Shirley Williams, York alumna (MES ’96) and professor of traditional studies at Trent University (see story in April 28, 2004 issue of YFile), and Robin Cavanagh, professor of sociology at Glendon and ASAY faculty adviser.

Friday’s events continue with a workshop, 1-3pm, on “The Importance & Significance of Traditional Teachings Through Songs” with Marie Gaudet in room 140 HNES. At the same time there will be a dance workshop next door, in room 141 HNES, with Dwyane Manitowabi.

women drums

Left: Women hand drummers at 2002 ASAY powwow

The Traditional Powwow begins Saturday at noon in Winters Dining Hall and runs until 6pm. Opening with a grand entry at noon, the powwow features master of ceremonies Allan Manitowabi, and head veteran Mel King, elder Barbara Riley, head male dancer Bruce Smoke, head female dancer Liz Osawamick, host drum Biim Sko Nodin, guest drummer Morning Star River and invited drums, the Smoke Trail & Chippewa Travellers. The water drum will be the Grand River Gang and the women hand drum will be Spirit Wind. Following the powwow there will be a dinner at 6:15pm with the opening prayer by Barbara Riley.

There will be a general meeting of volunteers at 10am today in the ASAY office, 103 McLaughlin College. Interested members of the community are invited to come to the meeting or contact Randy Pitawankwat, Aboriginal Education Counsellor, at ext. 22607 or by e-mail at


Right: Musicians perform at 2002 powwow

This year’s event will also include two special performances by hip hop MCs Cherokee Kid and Lakota Jones, who will be “spitting a fresh new flow” during an intermission in the powwow, most likely in the middle of the afternoon. Niki Cooke, founder of the Cookie Factory, represents these and other up and coming Aboriginal hip hop artists and will be available to provide further information. The second performance, titled the Clown Showcase, will take place during dinner and will be presented by Jasmine Manning and other first-year students from Toronto’s Centre for Indigenous Theatre.