Dancers at the Ermineskin powwow were dressed in their best regalia last weekend.
The event was held Friday, July 3 to 5 at Maskwacis Park and brought dignitaries such as the Assembly of First Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde, Alberta regional chief Craig Makinaw and Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson, explained organizer Nina Makinaw.
The theme of the powwow was a “Celebration of Life” and she feels the 495 dancers and 14 drum groups from around North America enhanced the theme of the weekend.
She said the powwow uplifts people’s spirits, which is another reason it is so popular. Among the drum groups that attended were two championship groups; Blackfoot and Northern Cree drum groups, who are recognized for their singing and drumming skills. Makinaw said attendees were exciting to see them in action.
Makinaw said on the July 5 grand entry, the youths, usually the last portion of the grand entry, were asked to enter first and carry the eagle staff into the centre dance area.
She says it gave organizers a chance to honour the youths and their Cree identity.
Prizes were awarded to the winning drum group and the dancers in a variety of categories.
Among the special honours of the weekend were Pendleton blankets to Mayor Iveson and to RCMP Cpl. Perry Cardinal, who has a strong community presence in Maskwacis.
The blankets are a high honour among Cree First Nations, said Makinaw, which shows respect and blessing to the recipient. She added that in the old days, a buffalo robe was provided to an elder to keep them warm and it was a life-giving present. The new blankets are a symbol of that old time gift.