Aboriginal Awareness Days & Powwow start today

First Nations dancers in colourful regalia will open Aboriginal Awareness Days and Powwow at York University today, a three-day celebration that will feature traditional singing and dancing, dramatic performances, workshops and film.  

"Respecting and Protecting Our Mother Earth" is the theme for the seventh annual event, organized by the Aboriginal Students Association at York and the Office of Aboriginal Student Community. 

Right: Last year’s Powwow featured a variety of stunning performances by First Nations artists

Two new components have been added this year. At Aboriginal Youth Education Day, on Friday, Aboriginal high-school students from the Greater Toronto Area and surrounding First Nations communities will be on the Keele campus to experience the postsecondary environment and to gather information that will help them to make informed decisions about their future pathways. 

Also new is an Aboriginal Alumni Brunch on Saturday, March 7 at 10am preceding the annual Powwow at the Keele campus. The event will be an opportunity for Aboriginal alumni of York to get involved early in the University’s development of a campus strategic plan for the Aboriginal community. The brunch will be hosted by Professor Bonita Lawrence, program coordinator for York’s Race, Ethnicity & Indigeneity Program in the School of Social Sciences, Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies.  

Well-known Aboriginal leaders and activists will speak on Friday, including Ruby Montour (Six Nations), Haudenosaunee Men’s Fire and Bob Lovelace (Ardoch Lake). York’s Aboriginal Awareness Days & Powwow will conclude on Saturday with a traditional Powwow at Vari Hall. First Nations dancers of all ages will be performing various dance styles from men’s Grass and Fancy to women’s Fancy Shawl and Jingle Dress. The afternoon will also feature a special performance by world champion hoop dancer Lisa Odjig. 

Left: World champion hoop dancer Lisa Odjig performed at last year’s Powwow at York University

Native arts and crafts vendors will be set up in Central Square and Bear Pit areas during the three days.

The complete schedule of events can be found at the Aboriginal Services Web site.