The sound of the drum could be heard for many miles during the Samson Powwow held over the weekend of Aug. 7 to 9.
This year’s theme was a celebration of life and healing, said Holly Johnson, chairperson of the powwow committee. “Our theme was iyniw pimatasowyn, which is a Cree way of life. It’s the indigenous way of life,” said Johnson. “It’s the celebration of life.”
Singing and dancing were a big part of the weekend and Bear Park was full of dancers.
The powwow is a celebration, said Johnson, and is an inclusive event that sees many people attend from around North America. “It’s a healing ceremony and that’s one of the things I think we wanted to express and share.”
Bringing this theme to the powwow this year was important to organizers, said Johnson, who says many First Nations communities are experiencing large numbers of suicides. Rather than looking solely at these suicides, Johnson said this year’s powwow was focused on celebrating life, and dancing is a key part of that.
“The heartbeat of the drum, the healing and just celebrating life . . . giving that healing spirit to everyone,” said Johnson.
The powwow celebration had something for everyone; golf was held the previous weekend at the Wolf Creek Golf Resort and during the powwow weekend itself there was a parade from the Samson site to Bear Park. In addition to the dancing and parade, there was a 5 km/10 km run, a rodeo, hand games, a princess pageant and a slow pitch tournament.
Johnson believed there were thousands of people who attended the powwow. “We have visitors from all across North America. We’ve had visitors from Australia, San Diego, California . . . and many people visiting from the United States.”
“Any powwow is a good powwow,” added Johnson.
Dancers came dressed in full regalia showcasing their skills. Johnson said there were four categories for the men’s dancing: fancy dance, traditional dance, grass dance and the chicken dance.
In the ladies’ categories there was traditional dance, ladies’ jingle and the fancy shawl. There was also a tiny tots showcase. “We just give them an opportunity to dance and strut their stuff and some of the little ones are still in the arms of the mothers,” she said proudly.
Planning for the event takes many months and Johnson said organizers seek sponsorship as well as fundraising through community bingos.
“We do get a lot of support from the Wetaskiwin community and our industry partners,” said Johnson. “I am grateful for that.”
She added Peace Hills General Insurance and Peace Hills Trust provided large contributions to the event. Johnson added if people want to sponsor the powwow, they can contact the chief or the administration office.