The theme of this year’s 10th Annual Aboriginal Awareness Days & Pow Wow, “Knowledge in Sharing Stories,” encouraged storytelling by people from various walks of life and backgrounds.
The event provided a holistic opportunity to discuss past and present issues that have affected and continue to impact the storytellers and Indigenous people. It was presented by the Aboriginal Student Association at York (ASAY) and the Centre for Aboriginal Student Services (CASS).
Right: Pow wow head dancers
This was the first time ASAY also held a student-led conference. Presenters from post-secondary institutions, such as Ryerson University, the University of Toronto, Queen’s University, as well as York University and the Greater Toronto Area came to share their stories.
The main topics looked at Education & Knowledge Transmission, Aboriginal Feminism(s), and Breaking Barriers: Urban Aboriginal Perspectives. Speakers included York Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES) student Robin Cavanagh, as well as York students Peter Dawson, Megan Bertasson and Janine Manning, and students from area universities – Natash Stirret, Tamara Pokrupa-Nahanni, Tannis Nielsen, Denis Campbell, Aimee Louw, Deborah Vincent.
The two-day conference also incorporated works of art from two York MES students Antoine Mountain, member of the Dene First Nation, and Erin Konsmo, a Cree-Metis artist. The speakers, presenters, organizers and participants contributed their input, dialogue, and musical and artistic talents, opening the eyes, ears and hearts of everyone in attendance.
The one-day Pow Wow in the Vari Hall Rotunda saw the addition of a second Grand Entry in the evening. Dancers of all ages, arts and craft venders, and onlookers jammed out to the drum beats of Host Drum and Chippewa Travellers and swayed to the voices of the young Morning Butterfly Singers, a women’s hand drum group originating out of the Native Women’s Resource Centre of Toronto.
Left: Female dancer at pow wow in Vari Hall
The menu for the feast for this ever growing event was provided by the Underground Restaurant. Also assisting in the orgainzing were ASAY Executive Council members Megan Bertasson, Janine Manning, Jessica Cook and Sarah Yankoo, the Pow Wow Committee, volunteers, coordinators, partners and sponsors, as well as the Centre for Aboriginal Student Services, Calumet College, the Centre for Human Rights, the York Federation of Students and Seneca College.