Hundreds of dancers donned their regalia for the annual pow wow of the Ermineskin Cree nation over the weekend of July 4-6, during which two important events were also marked by the chiefs of the Maskwacis Cree nations.
This year’s pow wow stood out in importance for the signing of the Turtle Lodge Treaty by the four Cree nations of Maskwacis area, essentially declaring their determination to join other First Nations of Canada in pursuing higher learning through a base of knowledge outside the framework of the Western culture.
Before the signing ceremony, Vincent Steinhauer, the president of the Blue Quills First Nations College, said in a short speech that the treaty was about “protecting our future.”
“This is about us being us,” he stressed.
He added that the treaty was about the First Nations’ rights to pursue education based on the knowledge systems of Aboriginal communities and not through Western norms of education.
With their membership of the treaty, the Maskwacis Cree will have the ability to cooperate with other First Nations in North America to develop higher learning methodologies and institutions.
Steinhauer was among the educational leaders who first established the treaty, which was first signed in Canada by several First Nations in Manitoba in May 2013.
During the Saturday portion of the pow wow, the 40th anniversary of the Maskwacis Cultural College was also celebrated with many founders, former graduates and teachers coming together for a special grand entry at the pow wow grounds with the chiefs the four Cree nations of Maskwacis or their representatives joining them.
The pow wow also saw the initiation of three young Cree dancers who took up pow wow dancing for the first time and their blessing by the elders.