Aboriginal Awareness Days & Powwow start today

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

“Inspiring the Next Generation” is the theme for the eighth annual event, hosted by the Aboriginal Students Association at York and the Office of Aboriginal Student Community.

Right: The 2008 powwow featured a variety of stunning performances by First Nations artists

Two components that were added to last year will continue this year. An Aboriginal Youth Education Day on Friday, March 5, will bring aboriginal high-school students from the GTA and surrounding First Nations communities to the Keele campus for the day to experience the postsecondary environment. While at York, they will gather relevant information to assist them in making more informed decisions about their futures.

Also new is the Aboriginal Alumni Brunch. Aboriginal York alumni will join participants in Chancellor’s Lounge in the York Student Centre on Saturday, March 6, at 10am for a light brunch prior to the powwow event. The University is in the early stages of developing a campus strategic plan for its aboriginal community and organizers of the Aboriginal Awareness Days are hoping the brunch will offer an opportunity for alumni to get involved in the process and to provide feedback on their own experiences at York.

Schedule of Events:

Thursday, March 4

  • 10am to 3pm – Aboriginal Youth Education Day in the Underground restaurant in York’s Student Centre.
  • 3 to 4:30pm – Opening ceremonies and powwow dance performances in York’s Student Centre.
  • 9pm – Free evening concert with Crooked Trail and Shawnee in the Winters Dining Hall, Winters College.

Friday, March 5

  • 10 to 11:30am – “Finding their Way” workshop with Shaneen Robinson, 2008 National Aboriginal Role Model, and Asivak Koostachin, 2009 National Aboriginal Role Model, McLaughlin Junior Common Room, 014 McLaughlin College.
  • 11:30am to 1pm – Motivational speaker Jolene John, subregional clinics operational manager for Tooksook Bay, Alaska, McLaughlin Junior Common Room.
  • 1 to 2pm – Lunch, McLaughlin Junior Common Room.
  • 2 to 3pm – Keynote presentation by Duke Redbird, First Nations poet, writer and television personality. The presentation will take place in the McLaughlin Junior Common Room. Redbird was born on Saugeen First Nation Territory.
  • 3 to 4:30pm – “Words of Inspiration”, a performance by hip-hop artist Chief Rock in the McLaughlin Junior Common Room.
  • 7 to 9pm – Free screening of the National Film Board movie Reel Injun in the Nat Taylor Cinema, N102 Ross Building.

Saturday, March 6

  • 12 to 5pm – Traditional powwow in the Vari Hall Rotunda. The Grand Entry will take place at noon and will be followed by a powwow feast at 5pm. An Iroquois Social will take place from 7 to 9pm.

Native arts & crafts vendors will be set up in the Central Square and Bear Pit areas during the three days. More information can be found on the Aboriginal Services Web site.