SADDLE LAKE - She has gathered several accolades over the years – including a Juno award – and for the next four years she will add another title to her list of accomplishments as Fawn Wood takes on the role of Saddle Lake Cree Nation Powwow president.
The annual Powwow is set for June 23-25, just two days after National Indigenous People’s Day. In recognition of both upcoming events, Lakeland This Week asked Wood to share some information with the public regarding one of the Indigenous culture’s most prominent celebrations.
What do you think people should know about Powwow that they might not be aware of?
“The powwow celebration is an event open to everyone. It’s a chance to showcase song and dance, and be immersed in the whole cultural experience. Another thing I’d love people to know is that in these particular events, we celebrate various styles of song and dance that come from numerous different tribes throughout the US and Canada. Our Saddle Lake Powwow has been a renowned celebration throughout native country, and we take a lot of pride in bringing people together.”
Why is powwow an important piece of Indigenous culture?
“Powwow in particular is important because, I believe, it represents not just our community but the culture of all Indigenous people throughout Turtle Island. It’s a way for us to showcase and celebrate who we are, as well as the richness of our culture and shows the essence of our people as a whole.
“All this is done through music, dance, camaraderie and community. I think a lot of people who may not have had any knowledge or exposure to Powwow don’t realize how widespread it is and how long it’s been around.
“People take a lot of pride in how our community hosts, and how we can invite and make welcome to people of all different backgrounds and corners of North America. It truly is a way of life. We have whole families that have been a part of this for generations, and who have travelled to every corner of this continent for these events.
“It really is a beautiful experience to witness and be a part of.”
What would you tell someone who has never been, but is wanting to attend a powwow?
“I would say, come and enjoy it. Don't be shy. Don't be afraid to ask questions, and take it all in. Again, we pride ourselves in hosting and opening it up to anyone who is interested in enjoying the afternoon or the whole weekend just being immersed in culture. There’s so much to enjoy from food, to entertainment, and meeting new people.”
Why is Powwow important for you personally?
“Powwow has played a huge part in my sense of community and family. I was lucky enough to be brought up in this lifestyle. If I were to compare it to anything, I would say it’s close to growing up around the rodeo circuit. Both my parents were singers, dancers and they really made sure that me and my siblings were exposed to this beautiful way from the moment we were born.
“We grew up singing, dancing, travelling, making regalia, and just enjoying being able to express ourselves through Powwow. I’ve also been fortunate enough to see many people from the Saddle Lake Cree Nation accomplish great things they’re singing and dancing. We have so many talented people that have come from of our community and were able to represent us on international platforms and stages through this style of music and dance.”
How did you become involved in being powwow president for the next four years?
“This year we have a whole new committee that was selected by the committee prior to keep our wonderful event going, and in a good manner I was lucky enough to be picked by the former president, Ben Cardinal. We look forward to continuing the legacy of our celebration, and hopefully see some of our neighbouring communities - both Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike, join us.”
Wood concluded by saying that creating space for everybody through events like the Powwow allows people to connect, learn and celebrate.
“We hope to see you all at this year‘s Saddle Lake Cree Nation annual powwow.”