Introducing youth to Indigenous culture was the focus at Red Deer International Powwow on Friday afternoon.
Co-organizer Patrick Mitsuing said youth and educators from local schools were invited to meet with elders and participate in sessions about the teepee, the Cree language and Indigenous dance.
“A lot of Indigenous education is hands-on and it’s experiential. It’s not at a chalkboard, sitting at a desk. You have to experience it. You have to hear the drums. You’ve got to feel it,” Mitsuing said.
“We’re teaching them by doing. That’s how you truly learn. They might not remember the words said, but they’ll remember the feeling when they leave here.”
He said it’s a slow process to reunite Indigenous youth with their culture, but events like the youth program at the powwow will help.
The Red Deer International Powwow runs from Oct. 22-24 at Westerner Park’s Exhibition Hall.
People from across Canada and the U.S. are expected to attend the first international powwow to be held in Red Deer in 20 years.
About 500 dancers are expected with their traditional, colourful regalia. They will be competing for prizes in seven dance styles and various age categories, from “Tiny Tots” (under age six) to “Golden Age” (55-plus).
The powwow runs on Saturday from noon to midnight and Sunday from noon to about 6 p.m.
Mitsuing encouraged both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to come out to the powwow, which is a family-friendly event. The pandemic has been difficult, and the powwow promotes mental, physical and spiritual healing.
“Come on out and come experience. For many, it’s their first time. We welcome everyone here.”
For more information, including admission prices, visit pwtpowwow.com.