| Aug 28, 2008

Feature Article - August 28, 2008

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Feature Article - August 28, 2008 Pow Wow at Silver Lake: a real eye openerBy Julie Druker

Silver Lake Pow Wow participant, traditional dancer and vendor Robert Donahue of New Brunswick

The 14th Annual Silver Lake Traditional Pow Wow took place this weekend at Silver Lake Provincial Park, near Maberly.

As the event brochure states, “The Pow wow is a spiritual legacy and is a link to the past that helps maintain heritage.” One organizer summed it up as, “a community gathering to show other communities what our community has to offer.”

The event attracts aboriginal people from various tribes and bands through out the province and country.

The event came about 14 years ago as native families in the area decided that it was time to organize an event as a way to keep their native traditions alive. Treasurer Trudy Knapp recalls, “The Pow Wow started basically as a way to get the community back involved in their native heritage.”

The Knapp family has been an integral part of the event since its inception and continue to run and organize the event today. “

Trudy Knapp is the Treasurer; sisters Ann Marie Wilson and Margaret Bilow and first cousin Danka Brewer, the MC, are all coordinators of the event. Another sister, Pat Crawford, runs the feast, the kitchen facility that provides meals for all of the dancers and drummers.

The site consisted of a central circular arbour built of log poles with a protective covering that housed the drums, drummers, singers and the EmCee.

Off to one side and surrounded by logs was the fire, lit and kept alight through out the event for the community and tended to by fire keeper, Martin Rennick.

Martin explained its significance. ”A number of community members use the circle to come and say prayers and for spiritual healing. Some will put tobacco on the fire and the smoke carries the prayers to the creator’s lodge.”

“Smudging’, is a form of spiritual cleansing where the individual cleanses him or herself with the smoke of the fire before prayers are made. Fire is an important part of native culture, representing “the spark of life”.

There are a number of special ceremonial events that consist of drumming, singing, and dancing, all of which are forms of prayer.

The drums represent the heart beat of mother earth and all of the events and beautiful regalia worn by participants have particular significance. For these reasons the EmCee states that no photographs or recordings are allowed. Pictures can be taken of individuals only after the ceremonial events and only with their permission.

One ceremony that took place was the gifting of a pipe to head veteran Willie Bruce by the surviving family of a veteran who recently passed away in May.

Many ceremonial dances took place throughout the day. Penni-Dawn Kernot performed the “Hoop dance”, a dance that incorporates roughly 30 hoops that she dances with and manipulates into various configurations, which represent spirit animals or guides and that are offered to observers of the dance who have a connection to that animal or guide.

The women’s “jingle dress dance”, is danced by women donning dresses hung with 365 metal cones and it is a ceremonial dance of healing.

Mitchell Shewell of Sharbot Lake has been the head dancer at the Pow Wow for a number of years and it is his first year as spiritual advisor. He was responsible for doing the opening and closing prayers for both days and for answering any questions from participants and observers.

Perhaps surprising to some observers was a Canadian Forces recruiting booth set up on site and the presence of many aboriginal Canadian Forces members in uniform, participating in the ceremonies.

Officer cadets and members of the first ever Canadian Forces Aboriginal Leadership Orientation Year program (ALOY)

Head Veteran and flag carrier of the Pow Wow Willie Bruce explained the relationship of the military to the aboriginal community.

“One of the things our culture has always respected is our warriors whose job it is to defend the community and those people who are least able to defend themselves. That’s why the military has a certain appeal to aboriginal people. Because we are born with that sense of responsibility for other people.”

Sgt. Kurtis White, an Ojibway and a 27-year veteran of the Canadian Forces, was present to participate in the Pow Wow and also to represent the Canadian Forces and provide information about the four programs the Canadian Forces presently offers to aboriginal people who want to get involved in the Forces.

The Pow Wow has been growing steadily in size and popularity since it began and attracts both natives and non- natives from all over the province and country.

Anyone who would like to volunteer, donate or make suggestions for future Pow Wows at Silver Lake can contact Trudy Knapp at 613-375-6356.

For those who missed the Silver Lake Pow Wow, next weekend offers another opportunity to learn about a culture that has existed for thousands of years and continues to exist here in the Frontenacs. The Ardoch Algonquin First Nation will be holding their annual Pow Wow in Plevna on Saturday & Sunday, August 30 & 31, and they extend a cordial invitation to the community to join them.

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