18th Annual All Nations Pow Wow at York University this weekend

The Aboriginal Student Association of York University (ASAY), in collaboration with the Centre for Aboriginal Student Services, will present the 18th Annual York University All Nations Pow Wow on March 7 in Vari Hall at the Keele Campus. As with previous years, the event is free, family friendly and open to the public.

Cezin Nottaway
Cezin Nottaway

The celebration will be preceded by a Métis Jig and Feast on Friday, March 6 at 12 p.m. in Vari Hall, followed by a screening of the Indigenous cuisine documentary Red Chef Revival at 7 p.m. in the Nat Taylor Cinema (Ross Building Room N102).

The pow wow will begin on March 7 at 11:30 a.m. with the grand entry lead by Bob Goulais and traditional elder Vina Simon. The host drum group will be Big Train Singers with co-host drum Smoke Trail Singers. Invited drums include Old Mush Drum Group, Women’s Hand Drum and Ogichidaa Kwe. The head dancers will be Kyle LaForme and Raven Morand.

The grand entry will be followed with entertainment by performers including hoop dancer Stryder Diabo-Tailfeathers and DJ NDN at 4:30 p.m. and a community feast with cuisine catered by renowned Indigenous chef Cezin Nottaway of Red Chef Revival. Indigenous arts and crafts vendors will also be at the pow wow.


Indigenous communities from across the province travel to York University for this event, which is one of the most highly anticipated and best attended pow wows of the year. Last year’s pow wow brought hundreds of participants to the Keele Campus and this year promises to be just as popular.

Anyone interested in volunteering at the pow wow should email the event organizers. Those looking for vender information should contact Lisa Maracle at the Centre for Aboriginal Student Services. More information on these events can be found by emailing ASAY.

More about the history of pow wows

Pow wows in North America have a long history spanning hundreds of years. The dancing and drumming featured at pow wows has a dual purpose, serving as entertainment and as a key role in conveying traditional teachings. Those who dance do so for not only those who are present at the event, but for those who cannot dance, the frail, the elderly and the missing.

Prior to the First World War, Indigenous peoples in Canada were not permitted to attend these demonstrations of culture and expression. In 1951, changes to the Federal Indian Act allowed pow wows to go ahead without interference. Contemporary pow wows advance expression of Indigenous culture, knowledge and healing.