Get ready for a Nekaneet Pow Wow in Maple Creek this summer.
The celebration of indigenous song and dance is expected to take place at the Maple Creek Community Arena in early August.
So be sure to free up your summer calendar, for the Nekaneet have invited the whole community to attend and learn about their culture.
The last Thundering Hills Pow Wow occurred in 2019, attracting many people from all over Canada and the United States. More than $90,000 prize money was at stake.
The three-day extravaganza featured a Grand Entry dance competition, dance categories for boys and girls, men and women, and “golden age” dancers. There were also arts and craft vendors showcasing hand-beaded and handcrafted items.
News about plans for a Pow Wow in 2022 emerged at Tuesday’s Town Council meeting, which was attended by a Nekaneet delegation. It included Selena Taypotat (communications coordinator), Shauna Buffalocalf (Councillor), Irene Oakes (education support with Nekaneet First Nation), her daughter, Laryn Oakes, and Jessica Buffalocalf.
“We want to have it in town to benefit not only the town of Maple Creek, but to move forward from COVID,” Taypotat said. “We have to learn to celebrate again as people and continue with our way of life, with our culture, our dance and celebration.”
Taypotat said the Nekaneet believed the town of Maple Creek would be a better place for a Pow Wow than the reserve.
When the event was held at the reserve in 2016, many visitors got lost, feeling they were in the “middle of nowhere”.
“It is more central in Maple Creek,” said Taypotat.
She hoped Town Council would support Nekaneet’s plans for a Pow Wow.
Oakes wondered whether councillors had any ideas for increasing attendance at Nekaneet Pow Wows.
She suggested orientation sessions, workshops or shows could educate people about the historical and cultural significance of different facets of a Pow Wow, including the Grand Entrance and the dances.
“I would like to develop a strategy,” she said.
Michelle McKenzie, the Mayor, supported the concept of cultural awareness sessions
Councillor Len Barkman thanked the Nekaneet delegation for coming. He said he was keen to encourage Nekaneet culture and promote a partnership with the First Nations.
“The First Nations people have always been close to my heart,” he said. “I’ve worked with them over the years, and have dear friends and that. You guys are special to us. So we want to see what we can do to help you, to work with you. Again, thank you for bringing this.”
Councillor Cara Teichroeb was excited to think about the possibility of Pow Wow education sessions, which would help bring the community closer together.
Other councillors voiced similar sentiments.
“I do not see a reason why we could not have a Pow Wow here,” said Councillor Jill Roy.
Councillor Tina Cresswell suggested other local organizations, the Chamber of Commerce and the Cypress Hills-Grasslands Destination Area, could spread the word about cultural awareness.
Tony Goode, the Interim Chief Administrative Officer, said he had attended a truth and reconciliation session in Wetaskiwin, where he worked.
“It was so enlightening,” he said. “To hear first hand some of the stuff that went on is really powerful.”
As city manager in Wetaskiwin, Goode said he was involved in helping and supporting Pow Wows.
He said he and his staff would be happy to work with the Nekaneet band.
“Just keep in touch,” he added.
The prospect of the Nekaneet flag being flown outside the Town Hall has been warmly welcomed.
At Tuesday’s Town Council meeting, a Nekaneet delegation asked that the flag be flown as part of recognition of truth and reconciliation.
“We would like a ceremony for it,” said Selena Taypotat.
She pointed out the Nekaneet flag was now flying outside Maple Creek Composite School and Sidney Street School.
“I definitely think it’s time to have the flag up here,” said Shauna Buffalocalf, a Nekaneet councillor.
Jessica Buffalocalf believed flying the flag outside the Town offices was long overdue.
Councillors reacted positively to the request.
“I would be very honoured to work towards having the Nekaneet flag flown in front of our Town Hall,” said Michelle McKenzie, the Mayor.
Councillor Cara Teichroeb agreed that it would be an honour to have the flag flown.