Aboriginal Awareness Days and Pow Wow starts today

First Nations dancers in colourful regalia will open Aboriginal Awareness Days and Pow Wow at York University this afternoon, a three-day celebration that will feature traditional singing and dancing, dramatic performances and workshops, including a reading by alumnus and 2008 Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning author Joseph Boyden (BA Hons. ’91).

“Reclaiming our Identity through the Arts” is the theme for the ninth annual event organized by the Aboriginal Students Association at York and the Centre for Aboriginal Student Services.

Today is also Aboriginal Youth Education Day, featuring two invited guest speakers – Miss Universe Canada second-runner-up Ashley Callingbull (Cree) and Native flute player and traditional dancer Jacob Pratt (Dakota/Salteaux). Aboriginal high school students from the GTA and surrounding First Nations communities are invited to spend the day at York to experience the postsecondary environment and gather relevant information that will assist them in making more informed decisions about their future pathways.

On Friday, Boyden’s (Métis) reading and reflections will be followed later in the evening by comedian Ryan McMahon (Ojibway/Metis). Aboriginal Awareness Days and Pow Wow will wrap up on Saturday with a traditional powwow held in the rotunda of 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 host drum will be the Chippewa Travellers, winners of the Best Pow Wow Album Traditional category at the 2010 Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards. The head dancers will be John Hupfield and Deanne Hupfield.

Native Arts & Crafts vendors will be set up in Central Square and Bear Pit areas during all the three days.

The complete schedule of events is as follows:

Thursday March 3

  • 10am to 3pm – Aboriginal Youth Education Day – Student Centre Underground
  • 3 to 4:30pm – Opening Ceremonies in the Student Centre. Elder and alumnus Jacqui Lavalley will open the event with a traditional prayer and song followed by welcoming remarks from event hosts and invited guests. Immediately following this will be powwow dance performances by Tall Pines Singers and Dancers

Friday March 4

Workshops and presentations will take place in the McLaughlin Junior Common Room, 014 McLaughlin College, Keele campus.

  • 9 to 11am – Storyteller – Jim Adams
  • 11am to noon – Art Show – Erin Konsmo
  • 12 to 1pm – Lunch Break
  • 1 to 2pm – Dancing – Deanne Hupfield
  • 2 to 4pm – Readings & Reflections – Joseph Boyden
  • 7:30 to 9pm – Comedy Night with Ryan McMahon at the Underground Restaurant, Contact Room, Student Centre

Saturday March 5

  • 12 to 5pm – Traditional powwow in the Vari Hall Rotunda
  • Grand Entry at noon
  • Feast at 5:30pm

For more information, visit the the Aboriginal Services website or contact Randy Pitawanakwat, coordinator of Aboriginal Student Community, at ext. 22607 or 416-788-3401or rpitawan@yorku.ca.