Powwow about relationship building

Vincent Ball

By Vincent Ball, Brantford Expositor

Lt.-Gov. Elizabeth Dowdeswell was among the visitors to the Three Fires Pow Wow at the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation.
“It has been a great weekend,” said Stacey LaForme, Chief of the Mississaugas of the New Credit. “I think we had more than 3,000 people here on Saturday and that was probably one of our best days ever.
“It’s because of all the hard work we do to build relationships. When we build new relationships we get more visitors and we’re really glad to have seen so many people this weekend.”
LaForme was especially pleased to welcome Dowdeswell to the powwow.
“I think that it is important that she be here,” LaForme said. “When we’re talking about building relationships and reconciliation that includes everyone, especially the Crown.
Dowdeswell is a terrific speaker, he added.
This was the 31st anniversary of the event, which is a traditional powwow, not a competition. The event’s name – Three Fires – relates to the Mississaugas alliances with the Ojibway, Odawa and Potowatomi Nation.
Organizers lit three fires to start the powwow and kept them burning throughout the weekend.
In her remarks, Dowdeswell talked about her family history and acknowledged that she is an immigrant. She said events like the powwow remind her of fall suppers she enjoyed as a child growing up in Saskatchewan. The powwow, like those suppers, bring people together.
Dowdeswell noted, as well, that there were a number of non-Indigenous people at the event. She said that’s important because they have a chance to learn about another culture and share their experiences with others in their community, taking a step toward reconciliation.
Although 2017 represents the 150th anniversary of Canada, it’s important for everyone to recognize that Indigenous people have been here for time immemorial, said Dowdeswell.
Following her formal remarks, Dowdeswell was honoured by Indigenous veterans. She also spent time walking the grounds away from the site of the powwow to speak to people and learn more about the Mississaugas of the New Credit.
The grand entry of dancers on Sunday featured participants of all ages. Dancers K.C. Bomberry, of Six Nations, and D. J. White of Walpole Island, wore brightly coloured regalia that attracted a lot of attention.
There were also vendors selling Indigenous food, as well as arts and crafts.