After a slight detour in recent years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the powwow trail once again leads to Flying Dust First Nation.

“It is a traditional powwow and we are back to having it take place for three days instead on only two,” explained FDFN powwow committee chair Melinda Morin when speaking of the event scheduled for Sept. 2-4. “Friday night has been added back in, and the first grand entry will be that evening at 7 p.m. That makes camping day the Thursday beforehand (Sept. 1).”

With COVID-19 restrictions no longer a concern, the powwow, as Morin stated, will return to its traditional roots. However, there will be some changes when it comes to some aspects of the event compared to past years.

“We’ve had to find some new staff, firstly because the late Howard Walker (the long-time powwow announcer) is gone,” Morin said. “We’ve had to look around and see who would best fit our needs, and we do have some younger people coming in. One of our own committee members, Sarah Bear, is also interested in learning announcing duties and is eager to take part in that too. That is exciting.”

Joining Bear in the booth this year will be Sanford Strongarm and Jackson Tahuka. Serving as arena director will be Adrian LaChance while the role of drum boss will be shared by Thomas Isaac and Blake Derocher.

“Other committee members are also interested in various roles and will be shadowing the staff we have hired,” Morin said. “The ultimate goal is to have our own Flying Dust band members fill the roles we would normally hire out for. We have kind of lost that along the way and are trying to bring it back to our community – how to direct a powwow, how to be a drum judge, that kind of thing.”

Morin went on to say this will breathe new life into the local powwow.

“Yes, as I said, we want to bring back what we lost many years ago,” she said. “We want to be self-sufficient in running our own powwow and not have to depend on outside people. We will have that knowledge and will be able to pass that knowledge on to future generations.”

Powwow participants and spectators, however, are still expected to come from near and far to take in the event and to showcase their skills and traditions.

“We are expecting even more people this year because, while the powwows were happening last year, we had to cancel ours,” Morin noted. “We are expecting more people, more dancer than ever. We have increased our prize payouts, we have increased our specials – we have more specials for the dancers and the singers. The money has just been sitting there and building up, so we have a little bit more to work with. That should entice more people to come and participate in our powwow as well.”

In closing, Morin spoke about the importance of the annual powwow and what it means not only to Flying Dust but to surrounding communities as well.

“I feel the powwow is one of the most important events in our community in terms of promoting healing and bringing people together,” she said. “We can all socialize now, we can all celebrate our culture and be welcoming ambassadors to the outside people who come in. It showcases the joint relationship we have with Meadow Lake, and we can showcase our beautiful reserve and all the hard work we have put into local development. We get to taste the foods again, see our neighbours again, visit, see the beautiful regalia. And, listening to that beat is something else.”

In addition to Friday’s grand entry at 7 p.m., grand entries will also be held Saturday (Sept. 3) and Sunday (Sept. 4) at both 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.

“Everybody is welcome to attend,” Morin concluded.

by Phil Ambroziak