Aboriginal community celebrates culture in Hobbema

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One of the main priorities for the elders at the Aboriginal Day Powwow was teaching aboriginal children about their ancestry.

One of the main priorities for the elders at the Aboriginal Day Powwow was teaching aboriginal children about their ancestry.

ADAM JACKSON/Ponoka News

Muskwachees Park in Hobbema was more colourful than usual on June 21, as communities from the area descended upon the park for their annual Aboriginal Day powwow.

The powwow celebrated its fifth anniversary and a change of date for the event.

The powwow normally runs on the eve of Aboriginal Day, which is June 21, but since it was funded partially by the Government of Canada, the event was rescheduled for the national observance.

“The summer solstice plays a huge part in our tradition,” said Louis Bull Band Coun. Bert Bull. “It’s the beginning of powwow season.”

“It’s also a great opportunity to learn about us as people and celebrate our past, as well as build for the future.”

The event drew crowds from the host Ermineskin Cree Nation as well as surrounding nations.

The nearly 200 spectators were treated to traditional Cree fancy dancing as well as drumming groups to entertain the crowd.

The RCMP also had a presence at the event, but it was for more of a nostalgic reason. Const. Clay Bird helped out with the treaty payments made available at the powwow.

“We’re here as a part of tradition,” said Bird. “Traditionally when treaty payments were made, there was always a representative of the Queen, so that’s why I’m here today.”

Bird also commented that having an RCMP presence will help with relationship between the aboriginal community and the police.

The event also experienced record attendance, but that was no surprise to organizer Jeraldine Hill.

“It has been growing steadily since it started, mostly with word of mouth,” said Hill. “It’s an event that brings alive the community spirit.”

Planning for the event started in January 2011 with many volunteer directors.

“It’s a great day for all aboriginal people,” said Hill. “It’s a day of celebration of who we are.”