2016 Powwow Circuit

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The term powwow comes from the Algonquin word “pauwau” meaning “spiritual leader.” As the last of the lake and river ice melts away and Goose Break comes to a close, First Nations across Quebec, Canada and the rest of the continent can look forward to these summer cultural celebrations for an opportunity to get back to their roots.

Here is an overview of some of this year’s powwow offerings across the province, elsewhere in Canada and the United States – in chronological order – where you can immerse yourself in Indigenous ceremonies and share timeless traditions with other Aboriginal communities.

Kitigan Zibi Traditional Powwow

The Anishinabeg of Kitigan Zibi are holding their 2016 powwow June 4-5 in memory of Karen Buckshot, a long-time organizer of the event who passed away earlier this year. The theme is Odidise kidji Gigeng (“a time for healing”) and all the activities will be held at the Kikinamadinan School on the Kitigan Zibi reserve near Maniwaki. Hosted by the Redtail Spirit Singers and Black Bear with Eagle River, Pikwaganagan Traditional Drum, Northern Voice and Akwesasne Water Drum rounds out the roster of traditional percussion. Elders Thomas Louttit and Rose Wawatie-Beaudoin as well as head dancers Jason Mullins and Sarah Decontie will preside over the ceremonies that include sunrise ceremonies, multiple grand entries, drumming contests, youth games, giveaways and a closing feast.


Peace River Powwow

For those who like to travel, the Dane-zaa of Peace River host their 21st annual Aboriginal gathering and 13th annual powwow June 4-5 on the Peace River Agriculture grounds in northwestern Alberta. Daily grand entries, entertainment, a jigging and fiddling contest, hand games, display tables, children’s activities, dancing and hand-drum groups are planned as part of the festivities.


Métis of Maine Annual Powwow

On the American side of the border, the Métis of Maine celebrate their annual gathering June 4-5 at the Yellow Feather Cultural Center in Dayton, about a five-hour drive outside Quebec and near Old Orchard Beach. On the schedule are a noon grand entry, drumming, intertribal dancing, Native songs and flute, craft trading, an auction, a raffle, storytelling and a tipi village.


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Powwow Pikogan

On June 10-12, the Abitibiwinni First Nation will be hosting a powwow on the Pikogan reserve in Abitibi-Témiscamingue just outside Amos. Honour dances for men and women, inter-tribal dances, traditional foods, cultural celebrations and Aboriginal artisans are all on the schedule.


Wollomonuppoag Indian Council Powwow

The Wollomonuppoag Annual Powwow takes place June 11-12 at the Lasallette Fairgrounds in Attleboro, Massachusetts. For more info contact Mark Brintnall at 508-680-6354.

Drums Along the Hudson

On Sunday June 12, Drums Along the Hudson: A Native American and Multi-Cultural Celebration kicks off at 11 am in New York City’s Inwood Hill Park. Bringing together dancers, percussionists and storytellers from cultures around the world, the one-day event celebrates international traditions and honours environmental and humanitarian efforts.


Unamen Shipu en fête

For the more adventurous powwow enthusiasts, the Innu community of Unamen Shipu (also known as La Romaine) presents Unamen Shipu en fête June 17-21. Unamen Shipu is located approximately 400 kms northeast of Sept-Îles and is accessible only by plane or boat.

Opitciwan Powwow

The Atikamekw community of Opitciwan hosts their powwow celebrations June 18-19 in Obedjiwan, just north of the Gouin Reservoir.

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Ottawa Summer Solstice Aboriginal Festival

On June 17-20, the Summer Solstice Aboriginal Festival takes over Ottawa’s Vincent Massey Park to showcase Indigenous arts and culture and host a competition powwow. The Ghost River Singers will be this year’s host drummers with William Constant as MC and there are cash prizes for traditional, jingle, grass, fancy shawl and fancy bustle dancing in junior, teen, adult and elder men and women’s categories.


National Aboriginal Day

June 21 marks National Aboriginal Day and special events are planned at various locations in Quebec. The Native Friendship Centre in Val-d’Or recently announced their 7th annual outdoor show with an all-female presentation to honour Indigenous women, featuring Diane Tell, Melisa Pash, Chantal Archambault, Kathia Roch and Laura Niquay. Arts and craft kiosks and traditional food tasting are also planned with the grand entry scheduled for 7 pm. The Screaming Eagles from Lac-Simon will be performing along with traditional dancers Jerry Hunter, Steven Trapper-McKenzie and Charity Lacroix all under the overarching theme “IKWE – A Tribute to Love”.

Ekuanitshit Powwow

About halfway between Sept-Îles and La Romaine (Unamen Shipu) along Highway 138 lies the Innu First Nations reserve of Ekuanitshit (known in English as Mingan). A member of the Mamat Innuat tribal council, Ekuanitshit has their annual powwow planned for June 21.

Wendake International Powwow

The Wendake powwow promises activities for the whole family as Aboriginal dancers gather to compete in tests of ability, grace and endurance against Indigenous talent from around the world. Taking place June 24-26 on the Huron-Wendat reserve just outside Quebec City, the celebration blends Native and Catholic traditions and featuring spaces for crafts and artisans, youth activities and traditional cuisine as well as a variety of workshops and special ceremonies.


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Return to Our Lands Powwow

The community of Nezaadiikaang is holding their 9th annual powwow June 24-26 at the Savanne River Resort just off Highway 17 in Upsala, Ontario (one hour west of Thunder Bay). Warm-up will be June 24 with the first grand entry happening at 1 pm June 25 followed by a feast that evening.


Oakleaf Campground Powwow

Running June 25-26, the Oakleaf Campground Powwow in Chepachet, Rhode Island, combines powwow celebrations with an outdoor camping experience and also hosts a potluck and trade blanket. Check out their Facebook event page by searching Annual Oakleaf Campground Powwow.

Odanak Powwow

The Abenaki First Nation of Odanak is located near the Saint-François River in the Centre-du-Québec region between Drummondville and Trois-Rivières. Celebrating their annual powwow July 1-3, Odanak offers Abenaki specialties such as smoked fish, sagamite and bannock, soup and traditional bread along with all of the usual craftwork, drumming, dancing and Native song.


Echoes of a Proud Nation

Kahnawake’s annual Echoes of a Proud Nation Powwow happens July 9-10 and is a massive event for merchants, traditional dancers, First Nations and tourists. Aboriginal dancers compete for cash prizes in a variety of categories including traditional, fancy, jingle, grass and smoke dancing and the grand entry, feasts, celebrations and other activities all take place on the Island of Tekakwitha just outside Montreal.


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The Great Gathering of First Nations of Mashteuiatsh

Focused on perpetuating age-old traditions and promoting cultural exchange, the Innu First Nations of Mashteuiatsh will gather July 15-17 on the western shore of Lac Saint-Jean for their annual powwow. Along with inter-tribal dancing, traditional foods and spiritual ceremonies, the Mashteuiatsh festivities also host live music, art demonstrations and traditional athletic competitions.


Essipit Powwow

The event takes place July 21-24 in Essipit, Quebec.


Lac-Simon Powwow

The powwow takes place July 23-24 in Lac Simon, Quebec.


Queen’s County Farm Museum 38th Annual Mid-Summer Powwow

New York City’s oldest and largest powwow is hosted by the Thunderbird American Indian Dancers and is planned for July 29-31 at the Queen’s Country Farm Museum’s apple orchard in Floral Park. Over 40 First Nations will be represented and the event promises quality Native American art, crafts, jewellery and food alongside traditional powwow competitions. For more info, contact Louis Mofsie at 718 347-3276.

Festival Innu Nikamu

Located adjacent to Sept-Îles, the Innu community of Mani-Utenam hosts the annual Innu Nikamu festival August 4-7. Innu Nikamu is a celebration of the arts and Innu traditions that brings together dancers, musicians, Elders, artists, families and tourists in northern Quebec.


Listuguj Annual Traditional Powwow

The event takes place August 4-7 in Listuguj, Quebec.


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Chisasibi Powwow

The powwow takes place August 5-7 near the Chisasibi band office. More info will be announced soon.

Pessamit Traditional Powwow

The event takes place August 5-7 in Betsiamites, Quebec.


Manawan Powwow

The Manawan powwow is back for a sixth year August 5-7 and will feature the traditional dance, art and music of the Atikamekw and other First Nations. Tourisme Manawan offers a “Teepee/Powwow” package that gives visitors the chance to spend two nights in a traditional dwelling on an island in Kempt Lake and includes food, ferry, equipment, activities and admission to the main event.


Festival du conte et de la légende de l’Innucadie

A blend of oral traditions, music and culture, the Innucadie festival brings together Native and non-Native storytellers for 10 days of live entertainment in Natashquan, 350 km east of Sept-Îles on Quebec’s lower north shore. The festival runs August 5-15 and features a variety of local, regional and professional artists.


Gesgapegiag Mawiomi Powwow

The Mi’kmaq Gesgapaegiag Powwow runs August 12-14 near New Richmond on Quebec’s Gaspé peninsula. For more info, call 418-759-3442.

Rassemblement de la route des Sauvages

Located in the small town of Cacouna in the Rivière-du-Loup region of Quebec, the First Nation of Viger is the smallest reserve in Canada and home of the Maliseet. Their annual powwow celebration takes place August 13-14 and combines Cacouna’s Festival Historique with the Maliseet’s Route des Sauvages gathering. It offers an opportunity for cultural exchange and a weekend getaway on the edge of the Saint Lawrence River.


Oujé-Bougoumou Powwow

OJ’s powwow happens August 13-14 and will be hosted by Cree Confederation. Everyone is welcome, vendors have an open invitation and there will be specials for the men’s traditional dance and women’s fancy shawl. The exact location has yet to be determined as this year’s event may be held indoors. Anyone looking for more information can contact Redfern Mianscum via Facebook or by phone: 418 514-8128.

Mistissini Powwow

Mistissini and Oujé-Bougoumou will be working together to plan their respective gatherings this summer as they are scheduled on consecutive weekends. Keep an eye on the Mistissini Powwow Facebook page and contact Luke MacLeod at 418 770-8680. Mistissini’s event will be held August 19-21.

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Wôlinak Powwow

One of the former seven First Nations of Canada, the Abenaki First Nation of Wôlinak hosts its annual powwow August 19-21 near Trois-Rivières. A family event, this gathering promises dancing, singing, recounting of legends, showcasing of traditional crafts, music and fireworks.


Timiskaming First Nation Powwow

The event takes place August 27-28 on the Timiskaming reserve in Quebec.


Kanesatake Traditional Powwow

A short drive from Montreal, Kanesatake’s annual Traditional Powwow will be held August 27-28. Craft vendors, First Nations song and dance, entertainment, exhibitions and workshops are all on the program. For info, call 514-892-8731.


Wemotaci Powwow

Held September 3-4 in Wemotaci, Quebec, a variety of First Nations will gather for traditional dancing, artisan tents and trading and tasting of traditional foods.


Akwesasne International Powwow

The Mohawk Nation of Akwesasne has planned their annual international powwow September 10-11, when many First Nations folks from Canada and the US arrive for dance, drum and smoke dance competitions and traditional craft and food vendors. This year features the Tlacopan Aztec Dancers and all events take place on Cornwall Island near Cornwall, Ontario.


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