ASAY holds fifth annual Aboriginal Awareness Days & Pow Wow

The Aboriginal Students’ Association at York is hosting its fifth Annual Aboriginal Awareness Days & Pow Wow, from Thursday, March 1 to Saturday, March 3, at York’s Keele campus.

The theme of this year’s event is "Honouring Our Women" and will feature a film screening, lectures, demonstrations, workshops, Aboriginal arts & crafts vendors and performances.

The weekend’s events begin on Thursday with opening ceremonies and traditional pow wow dance performances with the Toronto Native drum group MorningStar River. Following the opening ceremony, there will be a screening of recent York MFA graduate Pamela Matthews’ thesis film, A Shot in the Dark, about Ipperwash and the death of Dudley George.

Right: Pamela Matthews

On Friday, Dawn Lavell-Harvard will provide a workshop titled "Until Our Hearts are on the Ground: The Ongoing Struggle of Aboriginal Mothers to Remain Aboriginal". Lavell-Harvard, a mother of two children, is president of the Ontario Native Women’s Association and a full time student currently completing her PhD in Education at the University of Western Ontario. She is also the first Aboriginal person to receive a Trudeau Scholarship. Her research addresses the epidemic of low academic achievement and high drop-out rates among Aboriginal populations in Canada. She and her mother, Jeanette Corbiere-Lavell, are editors of the book Until Our Hearts Are on the Ground (2006).

On Friday afternoon, the Turtle Gals Performance Ensemble with Jani Lauzon, Michelle St. John & Cheri Maracle will perform a selection of dramatic works. Founded in 1999 by veteran theatre professionals Jani Lauzon, Monique Mojica and Michelle St. John to produce original ensemble performances, Turtle Gals Performance Ensemble is an artist driven company that is committed to work that reclaims the living history of the Aboriginal people of the Americas

Left: The Turtle Gals Performance Ensemble

Saturday’s traditional pow wow will take place in Vari Hall. The event begins with a Grand Entry at noon. Various Drum Groups from the GTA and surrounding First Nation communities will provide the songs for male and female pow wow dancers of all ages. Dancers in their colourful regalia will perform various dance styles such as men’s and boy’s traditional – fancy and grass – and women’s and girls’ traditional shawl and jingle dress dances. Hoop dancer Nicole Shawana will attend the pow wow and other invited participants will include Haudenosaunee (Water Drum) Singers and a Women’s Hand Drum Group.

Right: Traditional shawl dancers

Aboriginal arts & crafts vendors will be on hand to showcase and sell their homemade crafts, jewellery, paintings and carvings in Central Square and the Bear Pit on March 2 from 10am to 4pm, and during the pow wow event on Saturday, March 3. Following the pow wow will be a feast with many traditional Aboriginal foods.

Everyone is welcome to this free event. For more information visit